The live-action Mulan is paying homage to the original animated movie in a number of ways, including with the character Cricket. Jun Yu is playing Cricket, the human version of Cri-Kee, Mushu’s beloved cricket sidekick. In the live-action film, Cricket is a fellow soldier-in-training alongside Mulan. HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Jun about his role and clearing up any questions you may have about the character.
“People are confused. I totally get it,” Jun told HollywoodLife. “They assume that it’s my face on this bug body or they CGIed me. But Cricket is an actual human. He speaks in this one. He’s basically this kid who’s like the mama’s boy, and he’s really not fitting into this world of war. He’s just super sweet and very kind. He pretty much embodies what Cricket did in the animated movie, and it’s just shared within a person.”
Jun admitted that he watched the 1998 animated movie before he started filming to get a better sense of Cri-Kee. “It’s just a bug hopping around, but you see his innocence,” Jun continued. “I think that is the most important thing for Cricket to have. When I went in, I tried to be this very innocent kid, and then it worked out. That’s pretty much what I took from the animation.”
Jun, alongside Yifei Liu, had to do three months of intense training before filming started. “We did stunts, we did horseback riding, we did archery training, we did conditioning, we did it all. Everything you could ever think of we trained for,” he said. Working with Yifei was an incredible experience for Jun. “Yifei is probably the hardest-working woman I’ve ever seen in my life,” Jun raved. “She is so dedicated. She was always reading the scripts and just bringing it. Honestly, that motivated everybody, even the veterans. She took this so seriously, and she worked her butt off. It was phenomenal. She was so inspiring.”
Given the fact that Mulan is now live-action, fans have been wondering if there are going to be any other major changes. Jun noted that there are “some changes, but nothing too crazy. Everything from the animated is embodied in this one. This one’s just told in a very beautiful, beautiful way. It’s so different. It’s more of a serious tone, but everybody can watch it.”
Being a part of Mulan means so much to the young actor. He’s gone from being a fan to an important part of this world. “I actually was born around the time when Mulan originally came out, and I remember it being the first Disney animation that I’d ever seen — any animation period — where someone looked like me,” Jun told HollywoodLife. “That was just so insane to me. Mulan was my favorite Disney movie growing up, so to be a part of something that I saw so young and now I’ve gotten to work with people that I’ve admired for so long, it’s just a blessing. I’m so thankful for the opportunity.”
Mulan was originally supposed to be released in March 2020, but it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The movie will premiere on Disney+ on Sept. 4. You can exclusively stream the movie with Premier Access for $29.99 and a Disney+ subscription. In the months he’s been in quarantine, Jun has been staying busy working on his artistry. “I’ve been taking online classes for acting with my coach and just everything like that. I’ve been keeping very healthy,” Jun said. The future looks incredibly bright for this one.