If there was ever a week where Hollywood had to decide whether to be pessimistic or optimistic it was this week. Hot on the heels of Tenet performing well at box offices in countries where cinemas have re-opened came the news that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Robert Pattinson had tested positive to Covid-19 temporarily suspending the productions they were working on – including the blockbuster The Batman.
It would be enough to make any Hollywood producer wonder whether or not they should just give up on 2020 completely. One thing that happened this week was probably enough to make them realise there was still hope though – that was the smile on Yifei Liu’s face as she fronted the media about her new film Mulan.
It was obvious from that smile that Liu doesn’t mind the fact that the Disney epic is opening in cinemas in some countries and on Disney+ in others. She is just happy that a film that she is incredibly proud of is finally going to be enjoyed by film lovers right around the world. After all isn’t that why a film is made in the first place?
“I wanted to see how much more I could do as an actress,” the young Chinese star says when she is asked why she wanted to play Mulan in a film destined to become one of this year’s highest earners. “I wanted to see what my abilities were and I wanted to discover more and more and more. I wanted to learn more skills and I wanted to feel more. And I knew that she is facing extreme circumstances that not everybody every day could experience. I really did think I had the passion to explore that.”
From the trailers that had been shown to cinema goers over the past twelve months it was obvious that Disney alongside director Niki Caro wanted to expand on the originally animated version of Mulan and make this film an action spectacular with a solid character journey. That is something that Liu agrees with. “She is on a journey… she is discovering herself,” explains Liu going more in-depth about the title character. “That is not really on the surface, that is deep inside. She thinks that the perfect her in other people’s eyes might be that way but you do eventually realise that you can be that and you can be more than that.”
Of course alongside Liu in the film are some of the biggest names in Asian cinema including Donnie Yen and Jet Li, both of which Liu says was a joy to work with. “I think everybody was perfect for their role,” she says smiling. “I have to say that Jet, I worked with him ten maybe twelve years ago and it was so good to see him again. He was perfect to play the Emperor and Li Gong oh my God she is my Goddess… I am such a fan. I could not believe that I got this opportunity to work with her. So I was just so excited and on set I just wanted to always chat to her but I had to remind myself that I had to focus on my work.”
Whether you are lucky enough to watch Mulan on the big screen or whether you to get to watch it in the comfort of your own lounge it is obvious talking to the cast and crew that this is a film that has been made with complete dedication and love… and that is what we need from cinema right now.