Cultures clashing in rom-com
Lavish movie set in Singapore
LIFTING the lid on the lives of Asia’s rich and famous,
Crazy Rich Asians is one of the most highly-anticipated romantic comedies of the year.
Based on Kevin Kwan’s best-selling novel of the same name, the film tells the story of New Yorker Rachel Chu, who struggles to find acceptance after discovering her boyfriend’s family are the wealthiest developers in Singapore.
Actor Constance Wu talks about bringing her character to life and working with the likes of Michelle Yeoh and Awkwafina.
Q: Had you read the novel before beginning work on the film?
A: A few years ago, an agent told me to read the book because it was so popular that it was inevitable that it would be adapted into a film. A few years later, I learned that (director) Jon M Chu and (producer) Nina Jacobson were going to make the film. I had a meeting with them about it, but I couldn’t do the film because I was filming (the TV series) Fresh off the
Boat for most of the year. A short time later, I reconsidered, thinking that if I don’t express what this film means to me, I am going to regret it. So, I emailed Jon: ‘Hey, I understand that the timing doesn’t work out, but I want you to know that if you wait for me, I will put my entire heart into this project because it means so much to me’. I didn’t think anything would come of it, but then they waited for me (laughs).
Q: How did you approach the character?
A: From the beginning, my goal was to bring as much depth as possible to Rachel. I do that with every role, but it particularly matters to me with Asian-American characters. We didn’t want Rachel, or the film itself, to be just fun and cute. We had to do some real work to make sure it also had guts and emotion and heart. I spent a lot of time exploring those aspects of Rachel.
I also appreciated how Rachel is the portal into the story and its world, for the audience. Her mum was a waitress and a single mother. Everything that Rachel has was earned through hard work, and she’s remained humble and appreciative.
Q: What does Henry Golding, a newcomer, bring to the role of Nick?
A: Henry was terrific. The second he walked on the set, he was Nick. Henry kind of just had to be himself because, like Nick, he is so charming and lovable that people will fall in love with him. I love Henry’s natural charm and dashing British accent. I also love that while he grew up in England, he made the choice to live in Singapore where our story is set. So, he really understands that culture.
Q: What was it like to work opposite Michelle Yeoh, who plays Nick’s judgemental mother Eleanor?
A: Michelle did not disappoint at all. She embodies dignity, respect, grace and professionalism. I really enjoyed working with her. I compare working with Michelle to a tennis player being coached by Roger Federer. What Michelle offers impacts you in such a way that it really improves your work.
BIG LAUGHS: Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding and Constance Wu in a scene from Crazy Rich Asians.