“Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu sees his error in casting brown actors in subservient roles.
While promoting his new film “In the Heights,” Chu told Insider that he should have made the South Asian characters in “Crazy Rich Asians” “more human” and that he “totally gets” the criticism.
The 2018 rom-com hit centers on the relationship between Chinese American professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and history professor Nick Young (Henry Golding). He takes her home to Singapore for the wedding of his best childhood friend (and the event of the year), where Rachel comes to learn about Nick’s obscenely wealthy family.
As the Young family matriarch, Nick’s grandmother holds numerous, lavish events at her estate that is guarded by top-tier security. And though Indians are the third-largest ethnic group in Singapore, they are only seen as working armed guards. Chu said South Asian actors were at the party as guests, but admitted he didn’t elevate their presence in any way.
“They’re just sort of there,” Chu said. “I don’t give them the space to be there.”
“That’s a lesson that I did not understand until it happened,” he went on. “I was like, this is a book that exists, and I’m making this book into a movie. I can’t add a new character into this book.”
“Hearing it from people, for me, it was a learning experience,” he added.
Chu will get to put this experience directly to use in the “Crazy Rich Asians” series as the director of the sequel, “China Rich Girlfriend.” Book author Kevin Kwan recently told Variety‘s Marc Malkin that both sequels (the third being “Rich People Problems”) are “deep in development.” It’s been nearly three years since the first movie hit theaters, but Kwan insisted that the sequel needed to be as good as the first, if not better.
“We are one of those unicorn movies so there will be a lot of pressure to not disappoint the fans and to perform really well,” Kwan said. “I can’t wait till there are so many more movies like this that the pressure will be off us.”