Finding Mulan: Liu Yifei's Audition Tape and the Other Chinese Celebs Who Were Mulan Hopefuls

Finding Mulan: Liu Yifei's Audition Tape and the Other Chinese Celebs Who Were Mulan Hopefuls
We only ever see the finished product of films and dramas on the screen, but very rarely do we also get a peep at the audition tapes of stars who at one point were also unknowns in the industry. And while actress Crystal Liu Yifei isn’t exactly a green horn in entertainment, it’s still fun to see her audition tape for the part before we even see her kicking arse as Mulan!

Mulan director Niki Caro popped a short video on her Instagram today of a fresh faced Liu Yifei in character performing a few lines about chasing rabbits whilst riding a horse. The director also captioned it with a short background and how impressed they all were with her performance despite the jetlag from flying 14 hours from Beijing to the US for the audition.







A short clip from Yifei’s first audition scene. Also the first day I met her. She had traveled from Beijing the day before, and had not slept due to the punishing jet lag between China and US time zones. We needed to see her do four scenes, one of which had five pages of dialogue. All in her second language. The audition took 2 hours, and then she went for a physical training session for another 90 mins. She was deeply exhausted, but never asked for a break, was totally focused, committed, and consistently brilliant. I saw the depth of her talent, her physical strength, her artistry and her undeniable spirit. I knew I’d found a partner, a collaborator, and a warrior. We loved her so much we delayed the shoot 6 months to wait for her to become available. Best decision we ever made. 🌸#mulan #disney #yifei_cc #warrior #loyalbravetrue
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In previous interviews, Niki had mentioned that in order to find their Mulan, production had to scour the world and audition more than a thousand hopefuls before they found her. So what made Liu Yifei stand out from the rest? Niki said that to make her disguise as a man convincing, whoever lands the character of Mulan should be able to hold her own while training together with the army. That meant that actresses auditioning for the role not only had to read for the part convincingly, they also had to undergo an exhaustive 90 minute physical assessment which involved some cardio tests and weight exercises as a requirement before getting the part. Liu Yifei clearly won everyone over to the point that the shoot was delayed for 6 months to accommodate the actress's busy schedule. 



While we’re on the subject of audition tapes, here are some clips of the other Mulan hopefuls who could’ve nabbed the coveted role had Liu Yifei not been in the picture. 

As it turns out, there were quite a few familiar faces that include Chinese actresses Lyric Lan Yingying who most recently played Jin Dong's leading lady in The Best PartnerOra Yang Caiyu who is best known for the coming-of-age film Youth as well as Shang Yuxian and Zhang Yishang who were both part of the Detective Chinatown franchise. Chinese singer-songwriter Leah Dou who is the daughter of musicians Dou Wei and Faye Wong also auditioned for the part. 

Source: 1





13 comments:

  1. She got picked because she’s LYF. Simple as that. Need the support and popularity to market the movie.

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  2. There are so many undiscovered Chinese talents here in the US, but they had to go with someone already well-known. It's a bit sad. I agree LYF got picked because she's already have a successful career...

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    1. I think so too. No matter how much Niki tries to say Crystal is perfect for the role, evidently she still got picked cause she’s popular in China and they want that China money.

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  3. If she has no talent I would complain but she really does have everything to be honest. She had proven records of total delicateness in The Return of Condor Heroes and Forbidden Kingdom. Her aesthetic Kungfu moves are super good. Her along with Liu Shi Shi have dancing background and they performed their Kungfu the best, all other actresses near their age couldn’t replicate the same thing and just use excessive slow-motion effect with tons of CGI. Furthermore, she’s one of the rare actresses who still look good when her makeup are all washed away, so that must have make life easier for her cosmetic artist. Instead of painting her entire face to look like a man or look dirty every time, she can use most of her natural skin and easily adjust a few quick effects. Her English isn’t the best but who else can speak like that AND have the talent altogether. They are expecting a super woman. If anyone check out the footages of ROCH 06, it is nothing like today’s drama. That crew went to real caves and waterfalls, they jumped and fly from real buildings and real indoors, not the green screen. I don’t think Disney would want to risk with a new actress who they don’t know if she can withstand such hard tasks like that, plus learn horse riding too, and perform Chinese martial arts with precision. Easier said than done, they interviewed thousands.
    It’s sad that she complied with the C-govt to make a social media post, and in the end they betrayed her and forbid any actors with non C-citizenship to act. Out of topic, Kris Wu has Canadian citizenship so is he still filming The Hairpin? It does look like that law is still ineffective, or maybe he has too many fans to protest for him but who knows about the others.

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  4. I like LYF, but I wish Disney could have cast a different and fresh face. LYF is talented, and I wish she could have allow other non-popular actress that is as talented as her to play Mulan. Well, nothing can do now. Hopefully Mulan won't disappoint.

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    1. No idea if this movie is going to be good or not.

      But I highly doubt if there is anybody as talented. Not everyone can ride a horse. She doesn't know true martial arts like Donnie Yen or Jet Li but her dance background built her up with more muscles and she can learn the movements perfectly than most people. If those two martial arts masters are not involved in the movie too, I think any new actress will do since they won't showcase traditional Chinese martial arts. It will be easier. Since the guys are involve, I'm expecting the fight to be at the level of something like Forbidden Kingdom again. That will be challenging. Chinese wire hanging is different from American, I think they are using both styles. She had experience in that too.

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  5. People like her are the reason why we can't have nice things. Definitely not paying money to see this movie when I would've gladly for a POC woman leading the entire movie. What a damn shame.

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  6. No hate to Yifei but imo she only got picked because she is a more popular actress in China who can actually speak English fluently. There are tons of Chinese actresses who can speak English as well but Niki only picked her because she is more popular. I thought Disney liked casting new actors?

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    1. Yep so true, the director is BSing...it’s so obvious ...they want the Chinese market...

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  7. Nah who cares about haters? Sounds like some anti fans wish their Chinese idol to be like her. But she is being the big hurdle on the way. That doesn't make her untalented, talent is not something others can take away from another, especially by simply sending out a water army to disgrace someone online. :P
    If someone is untalented, no mater what her fans say online that she is, everyone can tell she's relying on water army already.

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  8. Some crazy anti fans picking on Liu Yifei. Then should Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Gong Li, etc. all be switched out because there should be new faces to promote? All of them were chosen for their talent.

    Why on earth did Jet Li starred in so many American films when he should only do 2-3? My goodness he was supposed to let other guys have the same opportunities like him too, he so greedy to take them all. And all those directors always used him because he's already so popular. (Sarcasm)

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  9. I personally don't understand all the hate towards LYF. I'm not a huge fan of hers but I was really happy when I heard she got casted. So what if she's already an established actress? She didn't get special treatment; she had to do the audition like the rest of them.
    Complaints would be valid if she was a horrible actress who only relied on her looks but she isn't. She's very talented when it comes to action scenes, her acting isn't bad, and she's fluent in both Mandarin and English.
    I look forward to seeing this film when it's released!

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