The filmmaker (and USC alumnus) behind the first studio movie in 25 years to feature an all-Asian cast opens up about Asian male stereotypes and the troubling lack of Asians in Hollywood cinema.
Jon M. Chu knows there’s a lot riding on the success of Crazy Rich Asians.
Though the 38-year-old filmmaker is himself a proven commodity, having helmed the box-office hits Step Up 2, Step Up 3D, GI Joe: Retaliation and Now You See Me 2, with the latter two films grossing a combined $710.6 million, this one’s a horse of a different color: the first studio movie since 1993’s The Joy Luck Clubfeaturing an all-Asian cast.
“This is a fairy tale that can inspire a lot of young people and tell them we are on the same level, and that we could have been in all of those classic movies, we just weren’t given the opportunity,” he tells The Daily Beast.
It is to Asians what Black Panther is to the black community: a beacon of representation, as well as a big, shiny middle finger to all those in Hollywood who say it can’t—or shouldn’t— be done. And Chu, the child of two Chinese immigrants, didn’t buckle under the considerable pressure, delivering a wonderfully entertaining romantic comedy with broad appeal.
Based on the bestselling 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians tells the story of Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), an NYU economics professor from a working-class Chinese-American family who’s faced with the daunting task of meeting her boyfriend Nick Young’s (newcomer Henry Golding) in-laws in Singapore. Little does she know that the Young family is filthy rich, and its matriarch, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), will do everything in her power to protect its legacy.
The Daily Beast spoke with director Jon M. Chu about his groundbreaking film and so much more.
Excerpted from ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Director Jon M. Chu Is Out to Change Hollywood: ‘Our Time Is Now’ by Marlow Stern