As recently as 2014, Simu Liu was working as a stock photo model, picking up $120 at a time for his efforts as he struggled to find his way into the industry. After several guest spots in TV shows including Nikita, Taken, Orphan Black and The Expanse, it was sitcom Kim’s Convenience that first brought him some mainstream attention.
Of course, the 32 year-old’s career is just about to rocket towards an entirely new level thanks to the upcoming release of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The early reactions have praised Destin Daniel Cretton’s martial arts fantasy blockbuster as one of the franchise’s best-ever origin stories, and Liu’s performance is being singled out for particular praise.
The leading man was first announced as Shang-Chi at 2019’s San Diego Comic-Con, and almost immediately followed it up by going viral after it was revealed he’d semi-jokingly pitched himself for the role on social media a long time beforehand. In a new interview, Marvel exec Victoria Alonso said that once Liu had tested for the part, nobody else even came under consideration to bring the character to life.
“There was never a plan B with him, he was it. The passion that this man has for the character is incredible. It’s one of those things where you look at it and you go, ‘Wow, yes, he exudes Shang-Chi. He is the best one to play it’. And, you know, to have someone like that be a part of the MCU, what a pleasure and what an honor to have it be the beginning of what Shang-Chi is.”
Calling it a star-making and career-changing gig might be an understatement when you consider that Liu only has two feature film credits under his belt, and one of them was as an uncredited extra in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim. He’s now headlining a big budget superhero epic from the most commercially successful multi-film series in the history of cinema and drawing strong notices for his work, so it’s safe to assume that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is just the beginning of much bigger and better things to come in his future.