Actor Jun Yu speaks to FanSided about being in Mulan and more!
This is an interview that’s been in the FanSided vault for some time. I spoke to actor Jun Yu on Thursday, March 12. Yu appears as the character Cricket in the live-action version of Mulan from Disney, which, at that time, was scheduled to come out on March 27, 2020. The Hollywood premiere had already taken place on March 9, so just enough people had seen it before the inevitable happened. Only a few hours after the interview took place, Disney postponed the movie indefinitely.
After getting a mid-summer released date, and then getting pushed back once again, Disney finally settled on giving Mulan a VOD release — meaning the movie will finally be available for fans to watch on Disney+ beginning Sept. 4 for a premier fee.
And because the movie is finally approaching a release (once again), I’m excited to finally share this interview with Yu. For this young actor, he’s already got a promising career ahead of him, just seeing how he’s in one of the biggest movies of 2020. Yu got the role of Cricket in the movie while still studying at the University of Southern California, and it was certainly a life-changing role for him indeed. But also, in his spare time, he has a love for music, especially hip-hop and rap — his favorites range from Jay-Z to Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, and he even plans on starting his own music career.
Read on below the trailer for the full interview with Yu as we discuss Mulan, his budding rap career, and much more.
Interview with Mulan’s Jun Yu
FanSided (Mia Johnson): What did it mean for you to be cast in a Disney movie as your first role?
Jun Yu: It meant everything. I, like, bawled so hard when I got the call. I fell to the ground. It was incredible. It means everything to me because I watched Mulan when I was so young and, you know, it was the only Asian Disney film. And that was it — that was my jam.
And you play the character Cricket. What can we expect to see from your character?
So Cricket is a young boy — because I know in the animation, he’s a bug — but this one, he’s a young boy who pretty much is chosen by his family to go to war. And everything the animated cricket embodies, I took on in this film, and Cricket in this film embodies it as well.
So are you along in the battles with Mulan?
Yes! So when she arrives and meets us, we pretty much stick together and become like a family. That’s pretty much where we all stand.
Okay, you know, because I didn’t recall seeing an actual cricket in the trailer!
Yeah! I think it’s confusing to most people for sure, especially if people are big, big fans of the animated [one].
What can you talk about as far as the differences in the animated film compared to the live-action one? How did you feel about some of the new exciting changes?
I loved it. Absolutely loved it. This film, I think, is extremely special, and they’ve done this live-action remake beautifully. And although it’s the same story, it is so different in terms of tone. I really think this one is going to be amazing. I think it’s gonna really touch a lot of hearts, really inspire a lot of people. This one is very special, I think.
Also in the trailer, I saw there were lots of battle scenes and the likes. What was it like on set getting to film a movie of this scale?
It never — or any single [one] of those days — for me felt real. So, locations: we were at these huge sets that actually look real. It’s insane. I could not have dreamed– I could not have wished for a better first job. This was insane, and it really blew my mind every single day. But yeah, getting to work with everybody was just so, so, so, so great!
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What would you say was your most memorable moment on set?
Probably the most memorable were scenes in the palace — and there’s a palace. But that was our, like, last day. And so for me when, you know, they were like, I’m done. I cried so, so hard because, I mean, we’d been working on it for so long, and it was just tears of joy, and it was so many things. It was just, it’s just phenomenal. That’s probably my most memorable memory on set.
I wanted to kind of go back because you did mention a little bit about representation in this film. I want to hear if you had any more to say about what this means to you. You know, especially, it seems like slowly but surely diversity is appearing on screen more. What does it mean to you to be a part of this predominantly Asian film and to push representation forward?
Growing up, for me personally, I did not see a single person that looked like me on screen. So it was very hard for me to be like, “I want to be like him” or anything like that. But for this film, I just think it’s really special that I get to, I don’t know, I get to be seen and all these kids get to see people that look like them and be proud. Because especially, I think, as an Asian American growing up in the States, personally, when I was super young, I resented that I was Asian because I felt that I was different or whatnot.
And now I’m at an age where I’m so, so proud. And I want that to be bestowed upon the younger generation to be proud of who they are. And I think that’s the most important thing for me.
I think that’s an awesome answer! I believe this movie is gonna mean a lot to many people.
I also read that you’re a bit of a musician, or more specifically, a rapper?
Yes, yes. I wouldn’t say that I’m a rapper or even trying to be a rapper. But I do love music, and it just happens to be rap. We’re working on a little something, probably, I’m not going to release anything any time soon. Probably within the next year, I’ll probably release an EP. But I want people to know that I’m taking this very seriously. That this is not just like, “Oh, I want to be a rapper!” Like, I love music and this is who I am. And I just want to share pieces of myself with others. I don’t really have the expectation of, you know, going big or nothing. I just want people to know me — or to hear and to understand my place.
Who would you say is your biggest musical influence?
I’d probably say J. Cole. J. Cole, for me, lyrically has really taught me a lot through music.
Speaking of music, did you get to flex that music muscle and sing any tunes in Mulan?
Oh man, honestly, in Mulan, if we had singing in it, I would definitely not have been cast. So I am very grateful because I can’t hold a single tune! And that’s why I like rap because you don’t really gotta hold tunes.
And finally, is there anything else you want to add about this whole experience or whatever else you’ve got going on?
Just keep looking out for me. I’m just trying to continue to do good work and show people that no matter what you look like… you could do anything you want in this life.
You can look out for Jun Yu in Mulan, which begins streaming on Disney+ on Sept. 4 for $29.99. And for more, follow the Movies category on FanSided.com.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.