Mulan director explains how she got the original Mulan voice actor to cameo

(Image credit: Disney)

Mulan may not have been a direct adaptation of the ‘90s animated Disney classic, but it still found time to squeeze in some references – including one major cameo that acts as a passing of the torch.

Spoilers for Mulan follow…

Speaking to IGN, director Niki Caro has opened up about the moment that sees original Mulan voice actor Ming-Na Wen have a cameo appearance at the end of the movie.

There, her character – the “esteemed guest” – introduces Mulan to the Emperor after her victory over Bori Khan.

So, how did that come together? “[I] asked her respectfully,” Caro said. “Her participation is one of the ways I got to honour the animation that I love so much. It was such a privilege that she came to play with us and I love the way she introduces Mulan – one Mulan into another.”

All in all, it’s a nice callback, one that gives the right amount of reverence to a movie many fans grew up with, while also acting as a nice little wink for those who recognised Wen in the scene.

One thing that Mulan doesn’t feature, however, is the smack-talking, fire-breathing dragon, Mushu. Voiced by Eddie Murphy in the original, Mushu didn’t make the cut in the live-action version, his role effectively replaced by a phoenix.

Caro told USA Today of the change, “Mushu, beloved as that character is in the animation, was Mulan’s confidante, and part of bringing it into the live-action is to commit to the realism of her journey, and she had to make those relationships with her fellow soldiers. So there was certainly a lot to work with in that department.”

So, no Mushu – but a more touching nod to the original Mulan is a fair trade.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.