MIN­ING A RICH STORY

Aus­tralian-Sin­ga­porean co­me­dian Ronny Chieng chan­nelled his days at law school to play a snobby cousin in Crazy Rich Asians, the new ro­man­tic comedy strik­ing a chord with cin­ema fans around the world

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - NEWS - SEANNA CRONIN

Australia can lay claim to funny man Ronny Chieng, who first found suc­cess as a stand-up comic here be­fore his in­ter­na­tional break­through on The Daily Show in the US.

But the co­me­dian and ac­tor re­turns to his child­hood home of Sin­ga­pore in the hit film Crazy Rich Asians.

Ronny plays Ed­die Cheng, the suc­cess­ful and very snobby cousin of cen­tral char­ac­ter Nick Young.

The film, based on the best-sell­ing book of the same name, fol­lows Nick as he in­tro­duces his un­sus­pect­ing Amer­i­can-Chi­nese girl­friend Rachel (Con­stance Wu) to his wealthy fam­ily, in­clud­ing his dis­ap­prov­ing mother (Michelle Yeoh).

“The book was on my radar be­fore the movie was an­nounced. I come from Sin­ga­pore and my par­ents live there, and it’s not very of­ten a Sin­ga­pore story blows up in Amer­ica,” Ronny says.

“One of the great things about the film is that it shows Sin­ga­pore as a char­ac­ter in the movie the way New York is a char­ac­ter in a Woody Allen film.

“It’s not just show­ing the very gen­uine wealth in Sin­ga­pore, but also the more down-to-earth scene at the New­ton Hawker Cen­tre. I used to eat there as a kid.

“Usu­ally when Hol­ly­wood does go to Asia it’s be­cause James Bond is go­ing there, but we stay in Sin­ga­pore. We show what makes it cool and such a wealthy coun­try.”

Ronny says his stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Mel­bourne, where he grad­u­ated with de­grees in com­merce and law, helped to in­form his per­for­mance in the ro­man­tic comedy.

“I went to law school so I was sur­rounded by a lot of th­ese Type A per­son­al­i­ties,” he says. “Th­ese are very am­bi­tious, ma­te­ri­al­is­tic peo­ple who come from very well-todo back­grounds.

“It was not hard for me to tap into that. It was also a lot of fun to play.

“The char­ac­ter is in­her­ently quite funny al­ready.

“The tone of the story is a ro­man­tic comedy, so the comedy came very nat­u­rally.

“Jon (M Chu, the di­rec­tor) re­ally gave us a lot of cre­ative free­dom to fig­ure out the char­ac­ters and fig­ure out the comedic tim­ing, and the free­dom to do di­a­logue. There was a lot of cre­at­ing magic on the day.”

Ken Jeong ( The Hang­over), Awk­wa­fina ( Ocean’s 8), Australia’s Remy Hii ( Marco Polo) and Nico San­tos ( Su­per­store) also pro­vide some hu­mour in sup­port of ro­man­tic leads Con­stance Wu and Henry Gold­ing.

The film is al­ready a suc­cess in the US, where it topped the box of­fice in its first two weeks on cin­ema screens.

“Ev­ery­one played to their strengths and it feels awe­some peo­ple are en­joy­ing it,” Ronny says.

“Whether in Asia or Australia or the UK, I’m cu­ri­ous to see what ev­ery­one thinks about it.”

The Malaysian-born co­me­dian hopes the film con­nects with Australia’s di­verse pop­u­la­tion of first, sec­ond and even third­gen­er­a­tion im­mi­grants.

“There’s some­thing in there for peo­ple who feel out of place,” he says.

“Rachel vis­its Asia for the first time and she’s re­con­nect­ing with her her­itage even though her par­ents are not from Sin­ga­pore.

“Her jour­ney is some­thing a lot of sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion im­mi­grants can re­late to – be­ing born in a Western coun­try, want­ing to fit in, then get­ting older and re­dis­cov­er­ing their roots.

“Any im­mi­grant can re­late to that feel­ing of not be­ing ac­cepted.” Crazy Rich Asians is in cin­e­mas na­tion­wide now

Co­me­dian and ac­tor Ronny Chieng had a lot of fun play­ing his suc­cess­ful and ex­tremely snobby char­ac­ter in Crazy Rich Asians.

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