Disney's 'Mulan' finds its star

Chinese actress Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu, is set to play the lead in the live-action adaptation directed by Niki Caro.

After a yearlong worldwide search, Mulan has been found.

Chinese actress Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu, is set to star as the title woman warrior in Disney's live-action adaptation of the classic Chinese tale.

A team of casting directors visited five continents and saw nearly 1,000 candidates for the role, which requires credible martial arts skills, the ability to speak English and the most ineffable requirement of all: star quality. In deference to cultural accuracy, the studio focused on locating an ethnically Chinese young woman to play Hua Mulan, who disguised herself as a man to take her father's army conscription in fifth-century China.

In Liu, Disney found the complete package. Nicknamed "Fairy Sister" by the Chinese public for her pure and innocent looks and image, she has been one of the country's most popular actresses of the current generation since breaking out with a series of hit television dramas in the mid-2000s, while she was still a teenager enrolled in the Beijing Film Academy. She is fluent in English, having lived in Queens, N.Y., for part of her childhood, and acted in English in both 2008's The Forbidden Kingdom, alongside Jackie Chan and Jet Li, and 2014's Outcast, opposite Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen. She also starred opposite Emile Hirsch in Danish auteur Bille August's period romance The Chinese Widow, which opened the Shanghai International Film Festival in June.

Liu, who has served as a brand ambassador for Dior, Tissot, Garnier and Pantene, most recently starred in the fantasy romance Once Upon a Time, which earned $82.3 million in China this summer. Her other credits include 2012's The Assassins, which earned Liu her first major acting award (at the Macau International Movie Festival), Never Gone and The Four trilogy. She recently signed with WME and continues to be represented by Chinese manager David Chen.

Niki Caro, who most recently helmed The Zookeeper’s Wife, is directing Disney's live-action Mulan, which is produced by Chris Bender, Jason Reed and Jake Weiner and eyeing a 2019 release. The 1998 animated version, voice-starring Agents of SHIELD's Ming-Na Wen alongside Eddie Murphy and B.D. Wong, earned $304.3 million worldwide as well as Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations.

Disney Live Action Movies in Production

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Disney Live-Action Movies in Production
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Disney Live-Action Movies in Production

Donald Glover will play Simba in the upcoming live-action adaption of "The Lion King," and James Earl Jones will reprise his role as Mufasa (!!!). According to Disney, the film is on the "fast track" through production and may arrive sooner rather than later. Jon Favreau will direct -- he also directed 2016's "The Jungle Book," so he's sure to crush it!

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Now this is interesting: Disney is developing a story centered on Prince Charming (either from "Cinderella" or "Snow White"). There's a lot of work to be done there since the original men weren't exactly riveting characters.

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Your childhood crush is coming to life. The new "Aladdin" will reportedly be a brand-new take on the beloved story and is expected to seriously deviate from the original plot. In March 2017, Disney announced open casting calls to find their perfect Aladdin and Jasmine. They're looking for Middle Eastern actors, and shooting begins this summer.

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We've seen remakes of "Peter Pan" before, but the magical story is slated for another upcoming live-action reboot. It's difficult to cast because not too many actors have pointed elf ears.

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What's Christopher Robin up to now? The upcoming "Winnie the Pooh" adaption will show us: In this version, he'll be all grown up.

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The live-action "Mulan" is currently in pre-production, and the actress taking on the title role hasn't yet been announced. It's scheduled for a 2018 release.

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Disney is working on a real-life "Little Mermaid," and she better still be a redhead.

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Emma Stone will play the evil Cruella in the 2018 flick. You've gotta assume she received offers for "The Little Mermaid," too, and she was like, nah, I know what I'm about.

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"The Sword in the Stone," released in 1963, is making its return! The story features King Arthur before he reigned supreme: He was an orphan who received special lessons from Merlin the wizard.

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Tim Burton is directing the live-action "Dumbo," which means it may not be quite so cheery as the original.

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The new adaption of "Pinocchio" will reportedly be only loosely based on the original story.

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After the smash success of 2016's "The Jungle Book," it was no surprise that Disney decided to move forward with a sequel.

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Angelina Jolie will return as Maleficent in a sequel to the 2014 film.

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"Snow White," originally released in 1938, is getting a much-deserved remake. 

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Did you know Snow White has a sister? Neither did we, but apparently her name is "Rose Red" and she's getting her own live-action movie. She hangs out with the dwarves after her Snow White meets her poisonous (temporary) end.

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