When they announced Disney’s live-action Mulan was moved to the Tang dynasty, I think many of us had suspicions (and I was definitely hoping) that the film was aiming to diversify its cast to include other races to recreate the melting pot of Tang-dynasty China.
The fillm has already announced Indian-American actor Utkarsh Ambudkar will join the cast of Liu Yifei, Gong Li, Donnie Yen, and potentially Jet Li. The latest casting call for extras pretty much confirms there’ll be people from all across the Silk Road in the film (Aladdin and Jasmine cameo, please!). In addition to people who are fighters and riders, they’re especially looking for traditional Chinese calligraphers, dancers, drummers, and traditional Chinese or Indian musicians, which means there’ll definitely be music and dance. I’m a little concerned they’re not asking for Middle Eastern musicians because what Tang dynasty dance party would be complete without the Sogdian Whirl. Interestingly, there’s no call for Southeast Asians even though Xana Tang, the actress for Mulan’s sister, is a New Zealander of Chinese-Vietnamese descent and there were definitely SE Asians in Tang-dynasty China.
I’m excited that they’re going to depicting a more diverse China that people don’t usually think about. I don’t think any of the other live-action Disney adaptations have done major cities, so hopefully they’ll do Tang-dynasty Chang’an justice. That road Mulan’s army comes back on better be 150m wide and not one meter less.