“Mulan” made a villain out of Jason Scott Lee. Lee enjoyed playing the central antagonist in Disney’s new live-action adaptation of 1998 animated classic.
“It’s fun because you can break through a lot of the barriers of having to play the hero,” Lee, 53, said. “There are some darker places and some deeper areas that you want to play in that you don’t get to when you play the hero. … Putting on that mask of being the villain and carrying it through was exhilarating.” A fresh identity to his “Mulan” villain, and introduced a complex character who’s motivated by the death of his father. “For me, Bori Khan was about representing his culture. … It was a culture that was kind of being stomped on by the Chinese Empire and being pushed out from their native lands,” Lee explained. “For me, Bori Khan’s quest was not only to avenge his father, but also to avenge the land that was taken away, and reviving and empowering his own people.”
“Knowing that it was ‘Mulan’ and Chinese culture … I was begging to do it, actually,” Lee said. “Just knowing the legacy of some of the live-action remakes, I wanted to be a part of that.”
Lee, 53, was surprised how ripped director Niki Caro and trainer Bojan Mladenovic, wanted to make his Böri Khan for the live-action remake now streaming on Disney+. “Bojan said to me, ‘Hey, can we make an agreement? I think you can get down to 4% body fat,’ “Lee recalls with a laugh, speaking by telephone from his Hawaiian home.” “I said, ‘Holy cow! You know I’m in my 50s.’ But he said age doesn’t matter. We shook hands, Deal. That was the end of the old me.”
“Then I was tortured to death every day,” adds Lee. “I was walking crooked for months.” “If they wanted that Shan Yu-type imposing, they would have gotten another actor,” says Lee. “They wanted me to be really lean and stripped down. A sinewy, snaky character.” Even during the Covid-19 quarantine, the actor kept himself in shape. He was thrilled to show his friends how he rocks in “Mulan.”