Fans of Disney's original animated Mulan were delighted to find a cameo by the voice actress for Mulan in the original animation, Ming-Na Wen, in the live-action reboot near the end of the film. However, as Wen revealed to New York Times, she almost had a bigger role in the film until scheduling conflicts got in the way.
"I was going to be the potential mother-in-law for the matchmaker scene, but because of the weather, they needed me to be out there for a month just in case. The producers of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. just threw up their hands: "We can't lose you for a month!" I totally understood, and I'm always very Zen about this stuff. I said, "Look, if it was meant to me be, it was meant to be. We all tried, and it's too bad."
At the time when filming for the Mulan reboot was underway, Ming-Na Wen was busy finishing work on the last season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., in which the actress plays the role of Agent Melinda May. Although Wen had given up hope of being able to play a part in the new Mulan, the film's creative team found a way to work around her scheduler by giving her a new role.
"We sort of let it go, and then Jason and Niki [Caro, the director] came up with this great idea where instead of shooting an entire scene, I'd just make a cameo at the very end to announce Mulan to the emperor. I thought that was very appropriate and just wonderful, a little Easter egg where I could pass the baton. And this time, they only needed me there for a week. So it all worked out!"
The role that Wen finally played in the movie was that of a royal courtier who introduces Mulan to the emperor after she has saved the Imperial Army and revealed her true identity. As Wen remarked, the scene acted as a symbolic passing of the baton from the former Mulan to the new Mulan, and even though Wen's character only appears in that one scene, the actress has created a backstory for how she came to be a part of the narrative.
"She was probably one of the relatives of the emperor, whether she married into that high status or not. I had a week to come up with something - it was a whirlwind. I remember I was joking around with Donnie Yen and I said, "Hey Donnie, you've done a lot of these period pieces, right? What would be an appropriate way to bow?" And he was like, "I don't know!" So I had to summon all my memories of growing up watching these incredible, epic movies that my mom would take us to in Chinatown, when I lived in New York."
Featuring a lead cast of Liu Yifei, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Gong Li, Yoson An, Tzi Ma, Rosalind Chao, and Jet Li, Mulan is available for streaming via Disney+ Premier Access. This news comes from New York Times.