Hollywood Boulevard is no stranger to movie premieres. In fact, it practically coined the phrase.
But on Tuesday, August 7 of 2018- something felt different, and it wasn’t the shattered Hollywood star of Donald Trump just a few steps away from the TCL Chinese Theatre. The street had been shut down as luxurious cars pulled up and the star-studded cast of Crazy Rich Asians arrived in their best attire. The screams of fans could be heard as each member of the cast exited out of their ride.
Crazy Rich Asians is the first movie in 25 years that has an all Asian cast. The last film was The Joy Luck Club. This is history in the making. And the cast is so diverse and more importantly was found quite literally WORLDWIDE. It is too often that in films, we see the same minority actors in supporting roles. But there are so many prospective actors out there, we just have to search a little. And that is what happened with Crazy Rich Asians. There was an open casting and this really was a breakthrough for many of the film’s stars. Even the leads aren’t recognized by many. They aren’t high grossing actors, but they were individually and carefully picked for these roles, and it shows. They were made to play these characters.
Henry Golding, who plays Nick Young appeared with a blue suit, bow tie, and a smile from ear to ear. This is his first film. “This place is legendary,” said Henry Golding about the TCL Chinese Theatre,”I’m so excited to be here.” As he spoke, there was an undeniable charming nature to him. It wasn’t unlike the charismatic character that he plays. Even more so, as the director was on a quest to find the man to perfectly play Nick Young, it turns out he didn’t even have to search far. As Golding was in Singapore (where the film takes place) sitting, almost awaiting for destiny to take its course. Golding eagerly shared with The Knockturnal what he loves about the film,“People are going to love that it’s the story that comes first. We’ve been rooting for this “Asian-ness” but Jon has done a phenomenal job in including everybody, especially with the themes that run true. It’s all about love. That’s what we gotta bring it back to, it’s the storytelling.”
Constance Wu didn’t have to travel far for the premiere as she resides in Los Angeles, but is originally from Richmond, Virginia. “I’m really lucky. I never would have dreamed that this would come true. To be with such a talented cast and such a great director it’s the privilege of a lifetime.” Wu first made her first big debut in ABC’s Fresh off the Boat. “I hope people love the glitz and the glamour of it. I kinda felt like I was in The Great Gatsby,” said Wu.
Singapore is a prominent character in the film. Director Jon M. Chu said, “Singapore is a city of the future, I loved the warmth of Singapore. I always think of it with the buildings and the amazing architecture. But really, it’s about the people. All ethnicities together. Families walking together on the boardwalk, everything was beautiful and warm.” The storyline itself isn’t exactly distinct from a story that we have seen before at first glance. However, the unique culture that is displayed is unlike what many people have seen in films. The characters are all so layered. It stands out from anything Hollywood has seen in years. And that’s the point. The Crazy Rich Asians director and author turned down a very generous offer from Netflix in order for the film to be seen in theaters. And even though it hasn’t hit theaters yet, it’s got everyone talking.
And what are people going to love when it makes its long-awaited arrival in theaters? “It’s a feel-good movie, at the end of the day it’s about love, it’s about family,” said Michelle Yeoh. We also spoke with Nico Santos, who plays Oliver T’sien,”You’re going to love how visually stunning it is and the fashion. I don’t know about you, but I just love an old-fashioned romcom!”
“I never thought I’d be here,” said Santos. When Santos first read Kwan’s book, he said he felt the part of Oliver was perfect for him. “I call him the fixer of this movie. I don’t know if you ever have watched Scandal but he’s kinda the Olivia Pope of the movie,” said Santos.
The energy and excitement surrounding Crazy Rich Asians is so dramatically apparent. Even in the film, as you’re watching you can feel the difference. You can feel the change that this movie has launched. “It’s been 25 years since we’ve seen an Asian American be the number one star of a film. And we’ve had so many great actors in the last 25 years but they haven’t been given their own vehicles. And I hope that this movement creates more vehicles for all those talented Asian men and women. For people to see their story and see their work. And that goes for any Asian internationally. It’s about time people see how awesome they are,” said Wu.
This is the representation that is simply long overdone. It’s a movie of identity that doesn’t display Asians as a token character or stereotypical “nerd” but instead is one that brings real depth, and a background we haven’t seen. Jon M. Chu so perfectly described the film and said: “this isn’t just a movie, it’s a movement”.