A year of searching and auditioning nearly 1,000 candidates later, the Walt Disney Studios has found its Mulan in Chinese actor Liu Yifei who will play the warrior in the live-action epic from director Niki Caro.
The 30-year-old, who is also known as Crystal Liu, is well known in China as a model, actress and singer, but. She has appeared in films like The Forbidden Kingdom with Jackie Chan and Outcast with Nicolas Cage.
Disney says the story will be inspired by the animated film from 1998 and The Ballad of Mulan. Bill Kong, who has produced films like House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the executive producer of the film.
The film is expected to hit theatres in 2019.
More about Liu Yifei
Liu, who just turned 30 in August this year, already has a portfolio filled with Chinese period dramas. Her ethereal looks in those dramas have also earned her the nickname “Fairy Sister”.
Liu is dubbed as one of the New Four Dan Actresses alongside Yang Mi, Huang Shengyi and Wang Luodan. She has gained a strong fan base since joining showbiz in 2002 at the age of 15, starring in The Story of a Noble Family.
Liu made her Hollywood breakthrough in 2008 with The Forbidden Kingdom, co-starring with kung fu veterans Jackie Chan and Jet Li. The film, loosely built on the Chinese classic novel Journey to the West, was directed by Rob Minkoff. Liu was cast in another Hollywood blockbuster, Outcast, in 2014. She starred alongside Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen.
Apart from being an actress, Liu also had a brief singing career. She signed with Sony Music Entertainment and was sent to Japan for a year-long singing and dancing training programme. She has released one Chinese album and a Japanese album.
Liu has a strong fan following, with over 53 million fans on Weibo. Her relationship with K-drama star Song Seung-Heon is being closely followed by fans and paparazzi. The couple met on the set of the romantic comedy, The Third Way of Love (2015), and started dating soon after.