The cast of Disney’s live action take on Mulan is shaping up, as The Mindy Project’s Utkarsh Ambudkar and Marco Polo’s Ron Yuan have joined the cast of the Niki Caro-directed film, which is expected to hit theaters in early 2020.
Ambudkar and Yuan will join Chinese actress Liu Yifei - who is set to play Mulan - in the live-action adaptation of the 1998 animated Disney film, itself based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan. Mulan continues Disney’s recent releases of live-action adaptations (and re-imaginings) of their animated films, beginning with 2010’s Alice in Wonderland and continuing with last year’s Beauty and the Beast. While whitewashing criticisms plagued Mulan's early casting choices, it appears that the spec-script that caused the kerfuffle was merely a jumping-off point and that the film will feature a Chinese cast. Additionally, despite the fact that the original film was a musical, Caro’s Mulan is expected to have musical elements but not to the extent of the previous film or even Beauty and the Beast and, instead, be more in the vein of a historical epic.
Deadline reports that Utkarsh Ambudkar will a con artist named Skath, with Ron Yuan playing Sergeant Qiang, the second in command of the Imperial Regiment. These two roles were not in the original film, suggesting some of the changes that screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) have made to the story. Ambudkar and Yuan also join previously announced actors Jet Li, Gong Li, and Donnie Yen.
While not household names, Ambudkar and Yuan have had already impressive filmographies. Utkarsh Ambudkar most famously played Mindy’s brother Rishi Lahiri in The Mindy Project, but also has had roles in Pitch Perfect, the short lived Showtime show White Famous and, most recently, portrayed Raj in Brockmire. Ron Yuan, meanwhile, has worked as a stunt performer and coordinator on a number of films including Olympus Has Fallen and Red Dawn before being cast as a series regular on Netflix’s Marco Polo and recently on Freeforms’s Siren, playing Aldon Decker. He also did a stint on FX's Sons of Anarchy.
Niki Caro has carved out a family-oriented filmography since bursting onto the scene with 2002’s Whale Rider, as her two films McFarland, USA (also produced by Disney) and last year’s The Zookeeper’s Wife were well-reviewed family friendly films. She is joined by executive producer Bill Kong, who has produced a number of notable Chinese films including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers, which shows the amount of care going into this production in regards to cultural understanding. Filming is expected to begin this August, though Mulan doesn't release in theaters until March 2020.
- Mulan (2020) release date: Mar 27, 2020