White-washing Be Damned: 'Crazy Rich Asians' Gets an Asian Director in Jon M. Chu

Taking on Kevin Kwan's hilarious novel may be the spectacle director of 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation.'

Getty/Frazer Harrison

There are two places it’s hard to find people of color: Trump rallies, and Hollywood movies. But amid the white-washing controversy that’s overshadowed productions like Ghost in the Shell and Marvel’s Doctor Strange, director Jon M. Chu, who previously helmed G.I. Joe: Retaliation and the upcoming Now You See Me 2, is said to be closing in on the film adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s novel Crazy Rich Asians.

Released to critical acclaim in 2013, Crazy Rich Asians is a character-driven comedy about a wealthy Chinese family who attends a lavish wedding in Singapore. THR reports the film will star a predominantly Asian cast in a story about contemporary Asian life, which is a rarity in modern Hollywood. The book’s themes deal with changing social values, the clash between old and new money, and cultural identities, all universal subjects.

In an interview with THR last year, Kwan said another producer previously showed interest but wanted to turn the book’s lead character, named Rachel Chu, into a white character. “I tell that story to book clubs in suburban middle America and they go crazy,” he said. “‘Why does Hollywood think we would want to see this movie with white people?’ They don’t need every film to be chock-full of the latest stars.”

He continues: “There are so many missed casting opportunities in Hollywood. It’s still very much a challenge, but I have faith in the talent pool not just of existing actors, but also of actors coming out of film schools in England, in Australia, who are Asian. My hope is that there will be equal representation in terms of Singapore stars, Hong Kong stars, Asian American stars, mainland Chinese stars — I would love for it to be like a dream team cast.”

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