Date set for live-action 'Mulan,' Disney will reportedly cast Chinese actress

Disney is planning to release a live-action version of its animated movie 'Mulan,' in 2018 and is reportedly seeking a Chinese actress to take on the role.

Walt Disney Pictures/AP
The original 'Mulan' Disney film was released in 1998. A new live-action version is planned for 2018.

The Disney animated movie “Mulan” will be the newest film from the studio to be adapted as a live-action movie, and the studio appears to be attempting to cast a Chinese actress in the lead role.

The studio has announced that the live-action “Mulan” film will be released in 2018. It will be preceded by, for one, a live-action take on the Disney animated classic “Beauty and the Beast,” which will be released next spring. 

“Mulan” tells the story of a young Chinese woman who disguises herself as a man and joins the army so as to prevent her father from having to serve. 

The original movie stars Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, BD Wong, and Pat Morita.

According to Hollywood Reporter writer Pamela McClintock, Disney is starting “a global casting search” for a Chinese actress who can take on the title role. 

There have been controversies lately over the casting of, for example, actress Scarlett Johansson, who is playing a character in the movie “Ghost in the Shell,” which is based on a Japanese manga. Actress Tilda Swinton being cast as the originally Asian character the Ancient One in the upcoming Marvel movie “Doctor Strange” also displeased some. (Marvel stated the character is being depicted in the film as Celtic.)

“Given Hollywood's tragic, systemic and apparently addictive history of casting white actors to play characters of Asian origin, this sort of thing is nothing new,” Los Angeles Times writer Marc Bernardin wrote of these two casting decisions. “…If we all can agree that representation matters, then white people are impossibly well represented – while seeing an Asian face in the movies is bordering on the impossible. And apparently it's getting more impossible every day.”

Many industry observers seem glad that Disney is reportedly searching for a Chinese actress for this “Mulan” role, with A.V. Club writer Esther Zuckerman writing, “Though hiring a Chinese performer to take on a Chinese character should be a given, the Hollywood tradition of whitewashing, or hiring a white actor to play a nonwhite character, makes this commitment cause for relief.” 

Mic writer Miles Surrey agreed, writing, “While the casting news might appear unsurprising, it's an important assurance from Disney, considering the plethora of traditionally Asian roles that have recently been whitewashed in the industry.”

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