Kristen sat down to talk Magic & Mulan with Jimmy Wong, who stars as Ling in the new Disney live action movie. They discuss Ling, Lockdown, and Livestreaming. Mulan premieres on Disney+ on Friday, September 4th. 

As a Magic fan, it’s exciting to see a household name like Jimmy Wong in a blockbuster movie. Though Jimmy’s portfolio is broad, Magic players can truly appreciate how cool it is to see him on the big screen. While you might be more familiar with seeing him alongside co-host Josh Lee Kwai on the The Command Zone, Magic is just one of the many exciting projects Jimmy works on.

I sat down to chat with Jimmy about Mulan, life on set, and how things have had to change due to lockdown.

Jimmy on the final day of production. Courtesy of @jfwong

Disney’s Mulan

Hey Jimmy, great to have you here today. Let’s kick things off with Mulan.

What was it like to get called up for Mulan? You’ve worked with Disney before, did that help at all?

Hey Kristen!

It was an incredible honor to be considered for a movie like this. When I heard I got an audition, I was screaming with happiness—this remake was one that I had been looking forward to since I saw the live-action Cinderella. Even though I’ve hosted a show on DisneyXD in the past, and done smaller shoots here and there, a movie like Mulan is its own project. I told my manager that this was my dream project—and it ended up becoming a reality!

I can only imagine! So, tell us what your character Ling is about? How has he changed since the last time we saw him in the animated original?

Without revealing too much—you gotta see the movie to find out more!—my character Ling retains some memorable characteristics from the original. I’m not exactly the most elegant warrior—in the trailer, you can see me try my best to fire an arrow . . . and fail miserably—but I am still a romantic at heart.

Disney GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

We’re all close friends with Mulan and we live and fight for each other. There was a lot of camaraderie between all the actors on set, and I think it will show when you watch the film!


Can you tell us a bit about the training process? Did you have to do any specific diets or training routines? Was it difficult?

I got to set two months before we began principal photography, and we spent those two months training nearly every single day to get our bodies and minds prepared for the shoot. We went through lots of physical conditioning, learning stunt choreography, and horse riding training. There was a little bit of everything—and it was a challenge to learn just so much physically, but more importantly mentally. I can’t tell you the number of times that my mind told myself to just give up, take a break, or stop trying! We were so very fortunate to have world class trainers all around—they helped mold us physically as well as mentally and we learned so much about what it means to push beyond the boundaries you set for yourself.

Have you picked up any habits that have now found their way into your daily routine?

The main thing that I took away from the training process was a deep knowledge of my own personal limits—and more importantly how those limits are often self-imposed. I pushed myself really hard during training, and was able to do so safely because of the professionals that were helping us along the way. I already had a fair amount of self-discipline going into the process, but learned just how much further along that path I could take myself. 

That’s something that everyone could do with learning to implement in their lives.

Yeah! It definitely has pushed me in my day to day life to be able to challenge myself further and with more confidence.

You have some action scenes—did you do your own stunts?

We trained extensively before we began principle production, and a lot of that training involved learning martial arts choreography and stunt work. I’m really proud to say that we did the vast majority of our own stunts in the movie. We had some of the best teachers in the world, and the entire process was really professional and safe throughout. I’ll let the movie speak for itself though—you should see us out on the battlefield soon enough!

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 09: (L-R) Crystal Rao, Chen Tang, Nelson Lee, Jimmy Wong, Rosalind Chao, Yoson An, Jet Li, Yifei Liu, Director Niki Caro, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Tzi Ma, Ron Yuan, Jun Yu, Doua Moua, and Xana Tang speak onstage during the World Premiere of Disney’s MULAN at the Dolby Theatre on March 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

The Cast

What was it like working with such an amazing cast? 

We had an amazing cast and crew for the movie, filled with some absolutely legendary actors. Being able to share the same room with people I grew up watching was mindblowing for me. The thing you tend to take away from these situations is just by watching how these veteran actors worked in different environments. Are they taking notes from the director? Adjusting a take on the fly? Or preparing for the next scene? Acting is such an all-encompassing job when it comes down to it, so being able to learn from the collective experience of everyone on set was really awesome.

Did you have any fond memories or funny stories from your time in filming?

Amongst the less veteran actors, we definitely had our fair share of goofing off on set. I particularly remember throwing orange peels at each other in the green room to pass the time.

Did any of your co-stars know about Magic? Did you teach any of them? 

Most of them had certainly heard of it, we had a couple of Hearthstone players as well, but there was only one other cast-mate who had played before—Chen Tang (who plays Yao). We ended up scraping little fun decks together from the leftovers of a prerelease and some drafts and playing in our off hours. It was a lot of fun to be able to partake in other hobbies when we weren’t working—it definitely helped bond Chen and me together!

Jimmy Wong & co-host Josh Lee Kwai on The Command Zone

Magic Away from Home

What was it like taking a lengthy break from the podcast with Josh? Had you ever stepped away before for a length of time?

This was the first time in 4 years that either of us had to leave for an extended period of time, so I’m really grateful that we were able to keep the podcast going at the same high level we strive towards. Having DJ being able to fill in was really crucial—he’s a great long-time friend of the show and an absolute Commander fanatic. Thankfully, after having done the podcast for nearly 4 years at that point, Josh and I have it down to a science. So replicating that formula and keeping the content fresh wasn’t a huge challenge—but it was definitely one that we knew we could tackle.

You have a really strong team back home for sure!

Did you take any magic decks with you? Did you get a chance to visit an LGS?

I personally don’t like traveling on airplanes and especially overseas with Magic decks, since my fear of losing or damaging cards is very high. I personally really love borrowing people’s decks when they let me and playing the game through their eyes. I visited a few game stores while I was filming, and I even released a vlog on the Command Zone YouTube channel when I took a few of the background soldier actors to play at some local prereleases.

There’s a vibrant Magic the Gathering community in almost every part of the world, and it’s always a joy being able to find and connect with new players over a shared hobby.

Adapting to Pandemic Life

I remember when we first sat down to talk about Mulan—it feels like forever ago! Since then, we’ve all had to change how we live due to COVID-19.

How has the pandemic affected work for you? What changes have you had to make? 

We’ve had to be really flexible and smart about how we continue our podcast and shows in this new environment. We were completely Work From Home for a while, and when California slowly started opening up again, we implemented strict protocols to ensure that everyone was being routinely tested and sticking to all guidelines for PPE and social distancing. Fortunately, testing has been easy and quick to do for everyone, and Los Angeles has been, for the most part, adhering to safety guidelines. Minimizing our risk is a priority.

For sure. It’s definitely been a challenge to change how I live. Fortunately the people closest to me have the same attitude, so that’s made it easier. Have any cool new opportunities emerged from the way we’ve had to adapt our approaches?

I’ve noticed that there are a lot more brand deals and implementations across the board for Twitter and Instagram, so it’s been very interesting to see how everyone is keeping their head afloat in different ways.

How has home life been with the pandemic? What’s been the toughest challenge?

It’s fortunately been very simple and peaceful in my apartment. I get to hang out with my wonderful girlfriend and two very cute dogs, so the real day-to-day challenge is finding ways to still “get out of the house” and not feel cabin fever, all while being safe. We’ve been taking short roadtrips around the city at night or helping a family member catsit since they’ve been stuck in Europe since the quarantine began. Really, anything that reminds us that our apartment isn’t the only place on earth has been really helpful.

Obviously Mulan has been delayed a lot this year, but we’re all relieved, and quite hyped, to see a release on Disney+. It’s a strong move from Disney to put Mulan on Disney+. Do you think they’re in a unique position with having a platform ready to roll compared to other publishers/producers?

It’s definitely going to be a defining moment for streaming platforms as many eyes will be watching the release and tracking how well it does. Disney certainly has a leg up that they’ve got millions of current subscribers to the platform, so we’ll see just how it plays out when it’s released. Fingers crossed that as many people get to watch the movie as possible!

Photo Courtesy of Jimmy Wong

Looking Ahead

With Wish Dragon on the horizon for you too, would you say you’ve got the fire for more ambitious acting roles now?

I’ve been acting and hosting and making content in Los Angeles since 2011, so the fire to be in bigger and better stuff has always been there. Acting is a peculiar career because you’re often waiting around for someone to need you, as opposed to the proactive lifestyle that I’ve become accustomed to with making YouTube videos for 8 plus years, and a podcast for 5. My hope is for projects like Mulan and Wish Dragon to help bring new opportunities to the table for the projects I’m already working on.

For sure. I think it’s easy to forget that anyone in the industry likely has a much bigger, and busier, portfolio than you know. Do you have anything else coming up you’d like to share?

There are a few things in the pipeline that I absolutely can’t talk about, but I am very excited to announce them when they come to fruition. It’s just a matter of time—so keep an eye out!

I don’t expect even if you did put more time into that side of things you’d ever truly step away from Magic, right?

Magic is one of my core interests and hobbies, and is something I’ve been playing since Ice Age. I ran the single largest website and forum for another CCG back when I was in high school, so you might say that my instinct to make content for a gaming community is strong. I’m sure that wherever I go, this game will always be close by.

Ah, nice! Forums were such a cool thing back in the day. I think the one I ran was a phpBB oneI miss forums as a way to connect. We have reddit and social media now, but is there anything you miss from that era of the internet that we don’t really have anymore?

Back when I used to raid obsessively in World of Warcraft, we would have our Teamspeak or Ventrilo servers always busy with players from around the world. Unfortunately those programs don’t exist as strongly anymore, but they have been replaced by Discord, which I still use every day to interact with friends and fans. One thing I do miss are the old AOL Instant Messenger chatrooms or IRC chatrooms that I used to hang out in. The amount of craziness you could get up to was always endlessly entertaining to me as a kid!

Wrapping Up

You’ve most recently been working on VENN; most of us will have seen some of your brilliant clips on The Download and other segments dropping some great truth bombs. Tell us what you love about VENN and what it’s been like working on this project!

Thank you so much! VENN was an opportunity that arose back in April, and I’ve been blessed to be able to come on board the team as a creative developer and host talent. It’s been a wild ride launching a full network during a global pandemic, but I am working with some incredible people and they’ve taken every precaution to make this work environment a safe and welcoming atmosphere. Livestreaming and live TV is a huge part in how this world is shaped, and I am so excited to be a part of that world and bringing our programming to the masses.

Finally—how does it feel to know you might one day be immortalized into a Kingdom Hearts game? The potential is definitely there!

All I can say is that if it happens, it’ll finally be the first Kingdom Hearts game I actually sit down and finish. I feel like I’ve started the first 3 hours in almost every game of the series, but just have never had the time or interest to play it through.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat to us today, Jimmy. It’s been a blast! I can’t wait to see Mulan, and I’ll be sure to let you know once I have. 

The pleasure is mine! Take care!

Disney’s Mulan releases Friday, September 4 on Disney+ through premier access. Once purchased, users can view as many times as they wish for as long as they remain a subscriber. As other outlets report, though a strong move by Disney, this is unlikely to become the norm. You can watch the final trailer below.

Based in the UK, Kristen is a lover of both Limited and Commander, and can most often be found championing the Boros Legion when called upon to sit down and shuffle up.

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