Zhang and his team started seeking cast members in 2007. As The Flowers of War is set in 1937 Nanjing, Zhang hoped to find a native actress to star in his film. Ni was eventually chosen, and became a new "Mou girl" like Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi. She received acclaim for her performance in the film and rose to fame. Producer Zhang Weiping spoke highly of her: "Born in 1988, she is young, yet her grasp of the figure is definitely accurate."