Liu Yifei on Overcoming Challenges to Play Mulan
After boycott threats and a delayed-release, Disney’s live-action Mulan finally made its premiere on September 4 through Disney Plus and theaters in countries without the available service. Despite the high media coverage, the film got stung with poor reviews and is pained by another round of boycott after viewers learned that filming took place in China’s Xinjiang province, where the government is known to be abusing the human rights of about 1 million Uighur Muslims. Heavily hammered by critics and netizens online, lead star Crystal Liu Yifei (刘亦菲) is eager to remain positive. In an interview, the actress shared how she prepared for the titular role, as well as how she overcame the challenges that came with it.
Working Under Pressure With No Martial Arts Skills
As the animated Mulan (1998) film is a well-known classic, there will inevitably be insurmountable pressure to live up to expectations of a remake. Working under such high pressure, Yifei shared, “I only had three months to train. Every day, I would have speech lessons and physical fitness, horse-riding, and military-style team training. I also learned how to dive, even though I didn’t have to do that in the film.”
One would think Yifei possesses some form of fighting skills since she landed this martial arts character, but the actress frankly expressed, “I don’t have any martial art skills, but I felt very powerful every time I immersed myself in the role. I don’t think these skills are very difficult as long as you work hard to practice them.”
Self-Preparation Was the Hardest
Barely challenged by the action scenes, the actress said the toughest part was reading the script and preparing herself for the character. When asked if she had to take English lessons for the role, Yifei explained, “I don’t speak English too well, but I thought if I was told to act in a French or other foreign play, then I would request for some time to train if I like the role offered. I just think that as an actor, even if you speak your native language in front of a camera, it will be different, and it will still have its own drama value.”
As for what she gained from taking these lessons, Yifei continued, “It enabled me to perform without thinking about pronunciation. On top of that, since the production team prefers to use standard English with a slight Chinese accent so that it aligns with the characters, I learned it by listening and imitating.
To sum it up, Yifei felt very honored to play such an important and legendary character. The process was not much different than performing in Chinese films, but it was very pressuring, according to Yifei. “Heavy pressure can sometimes be good, but it can also hinder the ability to express ones’ emotions. As such, I think it’s important to know yourself and don’t let yourself be distracted by other thoughts,” she said.
This article is written by Minna for JayneStars.com.