Hong Kong director Jingle Ma thinks mainland actress Zhao Wei is perfect for the role of folk heroine Hua Mulan.
Cast member Zhao Wei promotes the upcoming film "Mulan" at a press conference in Beijing on February 10, 2009. [ent.sina.com.cn]
"Zhao Wei has the qualities necessary to cross-play," Ma told the Beijing Times on Tuesday at a press conference for the film "Mulan", where he announced the start of filming.
Previous media reports suggested that Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh and Liu Yifei had all been considered for Hua Mulan, a young girl from ancient China's Northern Dynasties, who joined an all-male army to fight the enemies in place of her ailing father.
But the role eventually went to Zhao Wei, whose notable works include "Red Cliff" and "Painted Skin".
The character Hua Mulan was popularized in the West by the 1998 animated Disney film "Mulan".
But director Ma thinks the Hollywood Mulan doesn't match his impression of the heroine. "Zhao Wei's appearance is closer to that in my imagination," Ma says.
Last year, Ma took the directing baton of "Mulan" from Stanley Tong, who was reportedly hoping Zhang Ziyi could play Mulan.
There has been no statement from the film's investors explaining the change in directors.
In the upcoming film, actor Chen Kun will play Mulan's lover. Child actress Xu Jiao will play the young Mulan, and Russian pop singer Vitas is set to make a cameo.