Hollywood has been in the spotlight lately for all the wrong reasons.
The casting of Scarlett Johanssen as the originally Japanese character of Major Motoko Kusanagi in the Ghost In The Shell film adaptation sparked a firestorm of debate over Hollywood’s practice of white-washing – casting a white performer to play the role of someone of colour. This comes just two years after the very white Emma Stone was cast as “quarter Chinese” Allison Ng in the comedy Aloha.
It’s a practice that hasn’t gone away since its inception in the early 20th centuries, limiting non-white actors to supporting – or worse, typecast stereotypical – roles.
Which is why this casting announcement comes as a desperately needed breath of fresh air.
Earlier this year, the lead roles for the Crazy Rich Asians movie were announced. Constance Wu (best known for her role in American sitcom Fresh Off The Boat) will star as Rachel Chu, an Asian-American economics professor from New York, with our very own Henry Golding making his feature film debut as her boyfriend. Fellow Malaysian Michelle Yeoh will play his disapproving Singaporean mother.
Now, the rest of the cast has been announced, and we are thrilled to see that director Jon M. Chu has stayed true to his promise to cast only Asian actors in his adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s best-selling book.
The impressive ensemble cast includes British actress Gemma Chan (Humans, Sherlock), Australian actor Chris Pang (Marco Polo, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon), Japanese actress and model Sonova Mizuno (La La Land), American rapper Awkwafina, and Johor-born comedian Ronny Chieng (The Daily Show). The cast also features a number of Singaporean actors, including Pierre Png and Tan Kheng Hua who previously played married couple Chu Beng and Margaret (oh nostalgia!) on the popular Singaporean sitcom, Phua Chu Kang.
According to a Warner Bros. statement, filming has commenced and will be shot entirely on-location in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. So keep your eyes peeled in case you come across any film shoots!
Before you go stalking through the city, here are some announcements from the cast themselves!
Yay! The news is out! I am sooooo honoured to be part of the movie Crazy Rich Asians, written by Kevin Kwan @kevinkwanbooks and directed by Jon Chu @jonmchu . Am going to be playing Kerry, the mother of lead actress Constance Wu’s @wonstancecoo character Rachel. We have some lovely scenes together. And in fact, i start filming tomorrow in KL. As any Singaporean would say – SO DAMN SHIOK lah, this year! Acting. Producing. Story Development. 365 days of love, love, love. #crazyrichasiansthemovie Havent forgotten my current baby in her last week. Catch @tropicanathemusical before it ends april 30! Do it now!