Kwan wants film embraced
Culture All-Asian cast in adaptation is a long time coming: Author People are really eager to see if Hollywood keeps its promise and rolls out this movie the way we want it to. Thursday, August 31, 2017
Kevin Kwan believes America will embrace the Crazy Rich Asians movie, which is based on his bestselling novel of the same name. The novelist was in Hong Kong recently to promote Rich People Problems, the last book in his Crazy Rich trilogy.
His first book, Crazy Rich Asians, released in 2013, is the story of an Asian-American girl, Rachel, accompanying her boyfriend, Nick, to Singapore for a wedding, only to learn about Nick’s family wealth and power after stepping off the plane. The book provides a glimpse into the decadent and opulent lives of Asia’s ultra-rich. Its popularity gave birth to a sequel, China Rich Girlfriends.
It didn’t take long for Hollywood to notice the success of Kwan’s books and buy the rights to make Crazy Rich Asians into a film.
Kwan served as an executive producer on the Crazy Rich Asians movie, and said it was a long time coming for Hollywood to make a romantic comedy with an all-Asian cast.
“I think it’s huge,” he said. “It’s really the first time .... I’m sorry it hasn’t happened earlier.
“People are really eager to see if Hollywood keeps its promise and rolls out this movie the way we want it to.”
Hollywood came under heavy criticism for so-called “whitewashing” last year when Tilda Swinton was cast as a character that was originally Tibetan in Doctor Strange and Scarlett Johansson played the cyborg protagonist in the Japanese anime remake Ghost in the Shell. More recently, British actor Ed Skrein was cast as a Japanese-American character in a reboot of Hellboy. After a backlash, Skrein announced that he had withdrawn from the film.
Kwan said that for Crazy Rich Asians, he and the film’s director, Jon M. Chu, insisted on an all-Asian cast.
“It’s really been a dream come true, you know,” Kwan said. “Because even from the very start, when Hollywood was first interested in adopting it, I was thinking, Michelle Yeoh would be perfect, Constance Wu would be perfect. All these people, the fact that the dream sort of all came together.”
Wu, the breakout star from the sitcom Fresh off the Boat, plays the unassuming Rachel, while Yeoh plays her boyfriend’s disapproving mother. The dashing, rich Nick is played by newcomer Henry Golding. Others in the cast include Hangover star Ken Jeong and Harry Shum Jr. from Glee.
With racial tensions on the rise in the United States, Kwan said he remains confident that Americans will embrace Crazy Rich Asians.
“They have a history of multiculturalism in the industry, but over the last few years, it’s really, I think, the corporatization of Hollywood, the fact that it’s owned by these big huge corporations, where they just want to see profit, profit, profit,” Kwan said. “They take a lot less risks and a lot less artistic risks. But I think that’s changing, it really is, because the audience is demanding it, not just the Asian audience, the American, white audience is demanding it.”
When asked if his Crazy Rich trilogy glorifies the lives of the top one per cent in Asia, Kwan’s answer was a definitive “No.”
“My books are satires, you know, they are really comedies of manners,” he said. “So I think most of my readers, when they read it, I don’t think they’re really seeing this world through these rosy lenses.
Novelist Kevin Kwan
novelist Kevin Kwan says casting these actresses for the film adaptation of his breakout novel crazy rich asians has been a dream come true: constance Wu plays rachel whose boyfriend’s mother, played by michelle yeoh, disapproves.