As fears over the coronavirus outbreak consume her native China and force the closure of the country’s 70,000 movie theaters, Mulan actress Liu Yifei doesn’t just have a lot of stake on a professional level; there’s a personal connection, too. Liu, who will play the title role in Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of its 1998 animated film, hails from Wuhan, the Hubei province capital where the first coronavirus cases were reported.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, however, the 32-year-old remained circumspect when discussing the health crisis. Liu, also known as Crystal Liu, moved from Wuhan at age 10 and told the publication that she has no close friends or relatives personally impacted by the virus.
“It's really heavy for me to even think about it," she said of the WHO-designated global health emergency. "People are doing the right thing. They are being careful for themselves and others. I'm so touched actually to see how they haven't been out for weeks. I'm really hoping for a miracle and that this will just be over soon."
THR described the star — who sparked backlash and calls for a Mulan boycott last summer when she expressed support for the police amid protests in Hong Kong — as “cautious in the extreme” when asked to elaborate.
"I think it's obviously a very complicated situation and I'm not an expert," she responded. "I just really hope this gets resolved soon.
“I think it's just a very sensitive situation,” she added.
The Chinese government has been accused of mishandling the coronavirus, with officials reportedly punishing health officials who raised the alarm early on. Given the controversy her pro-police post kicked off in August, the actress, perhaps understandably, opted to take a more guarded approach this time around.
But she did acknowledge the challenges facing the film given the mass cinema closures in China. Though Mulan has an international release date of March 27, it’s uncertain if theaters in the country that inspired the film will be up and running by then, a possibility that Disney president of production Sean Bailey told THR would be “a huge blow for Disney.”
Liu, however, is trying to not be distracted by the headlines.
“It would really be a loss for me if I let the pressure overtake my possibilities," she told the publication.
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