After a yearlong search on five different continents, The live action version of Mulan has finally found its star. Chinese actress Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu, is set to play the titular character. Nicknamed the “Fairy Sister” for her pure and innocent image, Liu has become one of China’s biggest actresses. She has starred alongside Jackie Chan in 2008’s The Forbidden Kingdom, and alongside Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen in 2014’s Outcast.
The Hollywood Reporter reported that the filmmakers were dedicated to finding an ethnically Chinese young woman in deference to the story that Mulan is based on. The casting team saw nearly 1,000 candidates for the role. The ideal star had to have credible martial arts skills, the ability to speak English, and star quality. Many fans were hoping that Iron Fist’s Jessica Henwick would be chosen for the role because of her experience with martial arts.
The film will be directed by Niki Caro (who recently directed The Zookeeper’s Wife) and is eyeing a 2019 release.
In a statement, Walt Disney Studios said the film will be “inspired by both the legendary ballad and the Disney animated classic.” Both are about a young Chinese woman, Fa Mulan, who disguises herself as a man to fight the Huns. They went on to say that more announcements about the film will be coming soon.