Following a worldwide talent search and multiple auditions, Disney has finally found its lead star for the upcoming live-action Mulan remake.
The studio announced the major casting news on Wednesday, revealing that Chinese actress Liu Yifei (aka Crystal Liu) will play the titular heroine in the upcoming adaptation, which will be directed by Niki Caro.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, a team of casting directors went on a global quest to find the ideal candidate for the role, which requires credible martial arts skills, proficiency in the English language, and “ineffable star quality.” The studio, which reportedly wanted to focus their energy on finding an “ethnically Chinese young woman” to play Hua Mulan, saw almost a thousand candidates from five continents before settling on Liu, who is already a popular movie star in her native country.
The IMDb page for the 30-year-old actress details some of the greatest achievements of her career so far. At the age of 15, the multi-talented star was accepted into the Performance Institute of Beijing Film Academy, with her feature film debut in Love of May coming in 2003, three years prior to her graduation. Throughout the 2000s, she appeared in various television shows and also starred in a number of English-language movies such as The Forbidden Kingdom with Jackie Chan and Jet Li, and Outcast alongside Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen.
The dark-haired beauty, who is nicknamed the “Fairy Sister” in China as a result of her sweet and innocent image, is fluent in both Chinese and English.
Fans of the original animated movie have taken to Twitter to share their approval and voice their excitement over the news, with many showing a favorable reaction to Disney’s decision to remain faithful to the beloved character’s cultural roots.
We’ll just be here celebrating over the casting of a Chinese actress in a Disney film as the lead character????
— c-drama tweets (@dramapotatoe) November 29, 2017
— DON wants Snyder’s Justice League Director’s Cut! (@muddyboots26) November 29, 2017
— keaton (@keatonxxgrant) November 29, 2017
It’s a little heartbreaking how happy I am that Disney cast a Chinese woman to play a Chinese woman. #Mulan
— neen (@the_ns) November 29, 2017
Mulan is being directed by Niki Caro and produced by Chris Bender, Jason Reed and Jake Weiner from a reworked script by Jurassic World writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. The movie will serve as the latest in a long line of Disney animated pictures that have been given the live-action treatment in recent years, joining the likes of Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast.
The trend is set to continue too, with even more reboots reportedly in the works at the House of Mouse, including new versions of Aladdin, The Lion King, and Dumbo, the latter of which has Tim Burton in the director’s chair.
The live-action Mulan remake is expected to hit theaters in 2019.