BD Wong, who starred as the speaking voice of Chinese army captain Li Shang in 1998's animated Mulan, says he feels "no ownership" over the cherished Disney film that inspired a coming live-action remake. The 1998 movie co-starring Ming-Na Wen as the titular warrior and Eddie Murphy as her dragon guardian featured a primarily Asian cast, including the voices of Freda Foh Shen, James Hong, James Shigeta, George Takei, and Pat Morita. Wong is "very proud" to have starred in the original Mulan, and the star is looking forward to the coming re-imagining starring Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Gong Li, Yoson An, Jason Scott Lee and Jet Li.
"I’m interested in it. I feel no ownership over the original movie," Wong said on EW's Couch Surfing. "I’m very proud to have been in that movie. It was one of the last movies they made where they actually drew the pictures, it was at the frontier of a time when Asian-American actors claiming Asian roles in voiceover became a thing. In a way that was really foreign to people before that, to have so many of the lead parts in that movie be played by Asian actors."
"That’s meaningful to me," Wong continued. "So I’m into that."
"Just don’t eff it up," Wen said when asked what advice she'd give the new Mulan actress during a convention appearance. "But I’d like to think that the animated Mulan still holds a special place in people’s hearts, you know? Me and Lea Solanga [Mulan’s singing voice] created this beautiful image with the animators and Disney back in the day, before even CGI was a big thing ... I’m very proud of the continued legacy. I hope that they do it justice."
In 2018, Wen told EW she was "excited" Mulan was the latest animated Disney classic to be translated into live-action following blockbusters Maleficent, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.
"Asians are really hot right now in Hollywood — thank goodness — because of Crazy Rich Asians," Wen added of the 2018 hit film that starred Constance Wu, Awkwafina, Henry Golding and Michelle Yeoh. As for the heroine of Chinese folklore, Wen said it's "great to keep an incredible character and story of Chinese folklore going in any form."
Acclaimed filmmaker Niki Caro brings the epic tale of China’s legendary warrior to life in Disney’s "Mulan," in which a fearless young woman risks everything out of love for her family and her country to become one of the greatest warriors China has ever known. When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father.
Walt Disney Pictures releases the live-action Mulan into theaters March 27.
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