Jet Li reveals he only starred in live-action film Mulan for daughters' sake

PHOTO: YouTube/NengLiang Media Official Channel

Jet Li fans, if you're excited to see his return to the big screen soon, you have his daughters to thank.

In a recent Chinese TV interview, the martial arts star said that he accepted the role only because of a rare request from his daughter.

He had turned down a role in Disney's live-action adaption of Mulan because of the script and pay.

Then, his 15-year-old daughter Jada asked him if he lacked money.

When he replied no, she said: "When a company like Disney wants to make a movie about Chinese culture, why don't you take part in it?"

Jada's elder sister Jane agreed.

With that, Li agreed to play the Chinese emperor in the movie which is slated to be released in 2020.

The 55-year-old actor, best known for his roles in the hit 90s gongfu movie series Once Upon a Time in China (Huang Feihong) and the more recent Fearless (Huo Yuanjia), also revealed that he had turned down numerous movie offers over the years.

The most notable ones were sci-fi classic The Matrix and martial arts hit Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

Li said that by taking on the role of Seraph in The Matrix sequels (2003), his gongfu moves would be recorded in a digital library.

The retired Wushu champion did not like the idea that the skills that he had painstakingly developed over a lifetime would become the intellectual property of a US company.

There was also a possibility of them being recycled for other movies, he said.

At the height of his acting career, Li also rejected a role in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000) to honour a promise he had made to his wife Nina Li Chi.

He was originally cast as Li Mu Bai in Ang Lee's film but he had promised his wife that he would not work while she was pregnant with their first child.

Li admitted that he struggled with his decisions to give up such great opportunities at the time, but has since ceased his pursuit for fame and fortune.

And the shift in his life perspective showed.

Instead of his usual 100 million yuan (S$20 million) roles, he played the father of a young man with autism in Chinese-Hong Kong drama film Ocean Heaven (2010) and was paid a token one yuan.

In recent years, Li has also stepped out of the limelight and turned his attention to philanthropy.

He founded the Chinese non-governmental organisation One Foundation in 2007 which focuses on disaster relief, children's welfare, training of public welfare professionals, and funding grassroots charities.

ALSO READ: Jet Li: I'm doing great and feeling great!