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'Nobody else could have played Mulan,' director says of her live-action star

Yifei Liu as Mulan in the live-action remake of Disney's Mulan.
Yifei Liu as Mulan in the live-action remake of Disney's Mulan. (Image credit: Disney)

Disney's Mulan is a lot of things. It's been an animated movie, of course. And now it's a live-action feature. It's an epic story that goes back hundreds of years. It's also a showcase of star Yifei Liu's talents.

Finding her wasn't easy, though.

We spent an extraordinary amount of time looking for Mulan all over the world," director Niki Caro says in a new featurette ahead of the movie's release on Disney+. "We searched every village. And once I was in the room with Yifei, I realized that I found my warrior."

Yifei says the role fit her like a glove, too.

"I feel a strong connection between me and Mulan," Yifei says. "She's very present, and focused."

"Focus" is a word you here a good bit when talking about Yifei and Mulan. Tzi Ma, who plays Zhou in the film, says as much. "Yifei fits this roll to a T. Her generosity, her focus — she is Mulan."

But just because the role was perfect for Yifei doesn't mean the actor coasted through the production. Quite the opposite, Caro said.

"Yifei was training every day. She is an accomplished martial artist. She can wield a word. She can ride a horse. Nobody else could have played the role of Mulan."

The live-action Mulan will finally be available on Sept. 4, having been forced out of theaters due to the global pandemic. It's the first film to be released under the Disney+ "Premier Access" system, which requires subscribers to pay $29.99 — on top of their usual Disney+ subscription fee — to watch the movie.