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Marvel’s ‘Shang-Chi’ star Simu Liu used to be a stock art model

Some said it couldn’t be done.

Simu Liu, the star of Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” is celebrating his record-breaking success with followers on social media by revealing a little-known fact about his long-awaited Hollywood come-up.

The premier of “Shang-Chi,” which crushed Labor Day weekend box office records by racking $140 million, brings MCU’s first Asian superhero.

Despite his doubters, as well as those who decried Disney for weak promotion, the Canadian actor, stuntman and expert martial artist never stopped believing. But Liu did what he had to do to make ends meet before getting cast as Marvel’s latest lead, including the oft-mocked (yet economically stable) job of stock photo modeling.

“Me laughing at the people who thought we’d flop,” Liu, 32, tweeted Monday, alongside one example of his portfolio.

The attached photo features Liu and two other stock models, available via services such as Getty Images and iStockphoto. It depicts a grinning Liu seated in front of a laptop, pointing at its screen as a pair of male and female colleagues hover on either side, both apparently mid-chuckle.

Simu Liu celebrated his success as Marvel superhero “Shang-Chi” by revealing some of the humbling steps it took to get there.
Getty Images/iStockphoto
Group of business people meeting together, featuring Simu Liu
Canadian actor and expert martial artist Simu Liu also previously worked as a Hollywood stuntman.
Getty Images

More than 241,000 fans gave the tweet a boost, including a few who went digging for more of Liu’s greatest stock image hits.

“Marvel looking at the box office numbers,” one responded, next to an image of Liu seated at the head of a board room table packed with smiling associates.

“We did it,” another wrote, tied to an image of an Asian family, featuring Liu, enjoying a film at the movie theatre.

Indeed, it was a long time coming for Liu who had vied for the role since he effectively submitted himself to the superhero studios in a 2018 tweet, urging them to bring the singular character to the big screen: “OK @Marvel, are we gonna talk or what #ShangChi [?]”

Those close to the production recalled to the Hollywood Reporter that Liu “nailed” the many rounds of auditions. “He really earned it,” said Marvel casting head Sarah Finn. (Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige meanwhile maintains he never saw Liu’s challenge on Twitter ahead of casting.)

Several months later in 2019, he responded to the tweet, following the news that he’d ultimately been cast as the star. “well s- -t,” the humbled actor wrote.


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