‘Crazy Rich Asians’ director regrets casting South Asians in stereotypical roles


Jon M. Chu is apologising for how the 2018 hit romantic comedy portrayed South Asian characters. Photo: Reuters

The director of Crazy Rich Asians has regrets about stereotypical depictions in the international blockbuster movie.

Jon M. Chu is apologising for how the 2018 hit romantic comedy portrayed South Asian characters.

During a recent interview with Insider, the auteur — who was born in America but is of Taiwanese and Southwest China lineage — addressed the controversy over casting South Asian actor in stereotypical roles, such as domestic workers. Crazy Rich Asians was set in Singapore, a country where South Asians make up the third-largest demographic, according to population data.

One scene that particularly generated backlash occurred early in the movie when Constance Wu and Awkwafina’s characters pulled up to a mansion and were surrounded by armed guards that were all seemingly of South Asian descent (pic below). Chu agrees he should have made those characters “more human”.

“Looking back, I should have had a joke there [for the guards] being like, ‘These idiots', ” Chu said. “There’s stuff to do to make them more human instead of just, like, these guards."

The acclaimed auteur mentioned that South Asian characters were also featured in an extravagant party scene, but agreed, “They’re just sort of there... I don’t give them the space to be there.”

Chu did explain that he felt he couldn’t deviate from the film’s source material, the bestselling novel written by Kevin Kwan, which features an all-Chinese main cast.

“That’s a lesson that I did not understand until it happened, ” he admitted. “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.”

Crazy Rich Asians was recognised as the first film by a major Hollywood studio to feature a majority cast of Asian descent in a modern setting since The Joy Luck Club in 1993. It grossed US$238.5mil at the worldwide box office off of a reported US$30mil budget. – New York Daily News/Tribune News Service

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