Disney's Live-Action 'Mulan' Casts Lead Role

Disney's upcoming live-action Mulan has cast Chinese actress Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu, in the lead role of Fa Mulan. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news.

Liu Yifei
(Photo: Liu in Once Upon a Time — Credit: Alibaba Pictures Group)

Nearly 1,000 actresses from five continents tested for the coveted role, which required star quality, the ability to speak English and credible martial arts skills.

Liu, who spent part of her childhood in Queens and is fluent in English, acted in English in The Forbidden Kingdom with costars Jackie Chan and Jet Li and Outcast, with costars Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen. Liu most recently starred in Chinese romance films The Chinese Widow and Once Upon a Time.

China has dubbed Liu "Fairy Sister," citing her "pure and innocent looks and image," per THR — making her a fit for the live-action take on a character belonging to the Mouse House's "Disney Princess" line.

Mulan is the latest traditionally animated Disney film to be re-imagined in live-action: Disney previously found success in Maleficent (a spin on the classic Sleeping Beauty tale), Cinderella, The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast, which is currently the highest-grossing movie of 2017.

Niki Caro (The Zookeeper's Wife) directs from a script by Rick Jaffa (Jurassic World), Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin. Caro said the movie will be based on the classic Chinese ballad as well as Disney's 1998 animated Mulan, which starred Ming-Na Wen (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) in the titular role.

Like Beauty and the Beast and its animated predecessor, Mulan will be a musical.

Mulan is aiming for a 2019 release.