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

StarMetro Calgary - - CULTURE - The As­so­ci­ATed press

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

AP/getty im­Ages

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.

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