Little known on this side of the Atlantic, he has been chosen to play the new Marvel hero in the film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. But who is Simu Liu?
“Ok @Marvel, are we going to talk or what #ShangChi”! It was with this tweet that the actor Simu Liu called out to Marvel, in December 2018, at the time when the firm announced that it was preparing a film dedicated to the superhero, master of martial arts, Shang-Chi. An initiative that has borne fruit since in July 2019, during the Comic-Con, Marvel announced that Simu Liu would play the lead role in the film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the first film in the franchise with an Asian hero.
But who is Simu Liu? Although he is not well known on this side of the Atlantic, the actor is a real star at home in Canada. Born in China, he was only five years old when he joined his parents who had emigrated to the country with the maple leaf flag. An only child, he grew up with his parents in Erin Mills, Ontario. He graduated from the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School in 2011 and went on to work for the multinational Deloitte, from which he was laid off. A bad thing or a good thing.
A practitioner of Taekwondo, Wing Chun and gymnastics, Simu Liu decided to embark on a career as an actor and stuntman. After appearing in the series Nikita (2012), he made his first appearance on the big screen as an extra in Pacific Rim (2013) by Guillermo Del Toro. After a few appearances in series such as Heroes Reborn, he got a recurring role in the series Blood and Water (2015-2017), the first series produced for Chinese Canadians.
Since then, he has been playing a series of roles on the other side of the Atlantic (Kim’s Convenience, Taken, Orphan Black…). A notoriety that earned him the nomination by Hello! (a kind of British “Public”), among the “50 Most Beautiful Canadians” and the “25 Hottest Bachelors” in 2017 and 2018. In May this year, he even became the first Asian to grace the cover of Men’s Health magazine since Jet Li in 2010.
So no, casting Simu Liu as Shang-Chi is no accident. And this story of being cast thanks to a tweet is beautiful, incredible. So incredible that it was humorously qualified by Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, during the film’s promotional campaign: “Unfortunately, Simu, it’s not your ability to tweet. It’s your acting skills and your constant professionalism and the many meetings and script readings that got you this role.
However, the Marvel Studios President leaves a bit of room for fantasy by indicating that he had no idea if the casting director had seen Simu Liu’s tweet…