Ah, Disney. Whether you love their classic films or hate them, there’s no denying their outsized impact on pop culture ― and surely even the most diehard Disney hater has to hand it to Mulan, right?
I mean, it’s got everything. From its adorable sidekick to the iconic sword haircut (which I HOPE I’m not alone in trying to recreate with a ruler aged about 11), the film’s plot line might be bested only by its perfect soundtrack.
But, if you listen closely to Li Shang’s singing parts, you might be more than a little surprised by what you hear.
That’s because, while BD Wong voiced the speaking parts of the role, the general’s singing parts were crooned by none other than Donny Osmond.
I know! The actor wrote about his role in the movie in a 2019 Instagram post.
“Many people are surprised when they find out that I was Captain Li Shang’s singing voice for the song ‘I’ll Make a Man Out of You,’” he (correctly, to be fair) said.
“I still remember the epic night when Debbie and I took the boys to the Hollywood Bowl premiere. We watched the movie on an incredible screen that was 5 stories high. Although the setting that night was phenomenal, nothing will ever beat my sons’ expressions as they heard Captain Shang’s voice booming through the amphitheater,” he added.
He even went so far as to say that “Captain Shang finally made me a cool dad in their eyes.”
Well then... anything else?
Yep, a couple of things!
Firstly, the actor who voiced Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) was in her mid-thirties when she was assigned the roles. Producers picked her because they liked her narration in The Joy Luck Club.
And Mulan touched her hair a lot in the movie because Ming-Na Wen touched hers during recording (d’aww).
Also, the film was originally a kind of romcom in which Mulan got married to Li-Shang, who she’d never met. but a screenwriter named Chris Sanders brought it closer to the original myth (you did know the movie is based on an old poem, right?).
While I have you, loads of Disney movies are based on unexpected sources. The Pirates of the Caribbean movies were based on a ride, for instance; the idea for Toy Story came from an Oscar-winning short film called Tin Toy, in which a toy named Tinny reluctantly let a baby play with him to stop the child crying.
You learn something worldview-shifting every day, I guess...