10 Things You Don’t Know About #CrazyRichAsians (with video)

Here are 10 things you don’t know about Crazy Rich Asians the movie:

1) Author Kevin Kwan Optioned His Book for Only $1
The Hollywood Reporter (THR) has a great cover story on CRA, here is an excerpt about why Kwan ended up optioning the book for just $1.

“I met with, I think, six producers in one day,” says Kwan. “It was like a beauty contest.” Many had renminbi signs in their eyes. “They were interested in getting into the Chinese market, and I was like, ‘This is a 
movie with worldwide and domestic potential — that just happens to star Asians.'”

Color Force’s Jacobson and Simpson, known for the Hunger Games franchise, saw it the same way. “It feels so mainstream and accessible — anybody can relate to being rejected by in-laws,” says Jacobson. She and Simpson vowed to secure financing from a company with Asian ties, and UTA steered them to Ivanhoe Pictures, Penotti’s then-brand-new company with offices in Singapore and Hong Kong. While Kwan had lucrative offers, he optioned his book to Color Force and Ivanhoe for just $1 (with triggers in place for him to earn more as the project got made) in exchange for the right to remain involved with development decisions — a rare opportunity for a first-timer. “To say, ‘I’m going to do this for a dollar,'” says Simpson, “the only other person I know who does that is Stephen King.””

2) (see pix) Real life inspiration for Rachel Chu
See author Kevin Kwan’s Instagram post, “[my dear friend Vivian’s] stories inspired me when I created the character of Rachel Chu and her family. Jon M. Chu, the director of “Crazy Rich Asians,” was one of the cousins Vivian had been talking about for so many years. I never dreamed that he would one day direct the film based on my book, a film with a heroine who is inspired by the women in his own family. Last night, it all came full circle in this photo – the first time Vivian, Jon, and I were all together in one place.

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More than ten years ago, my dear friend Vivian in New York started telling me stories about how she grew up in Northern California amongst all her cousins and how close knit they all were. As I moved to the US when I was eleven and had to leave behind my closest cousins, I was fascinated by the stories of her cool American-Born Chinese family, so different from my own, and her stories inspired me when I created the character of Rachel Chu and her family. Jon M. Chu, the director of "Crazy Rich Asians," was one of the cousins Vivian had been talking about for so many years. I never dreamed that he would one day direct the film based on my book, a film with a heroine who is inspired by the women in his own family. Last night, it all came full circle in this photo – the first time Vivian, Jon, and I were all together in one place.

A post shared by Kevin Kwan (@kevinkwanbooks) on

3) (with video) Getting permission to use Gardens by the Bay went right up to the PMO
The producers were having a hard time getting permission to film at the epic beautiful Gardens by the Bay location until CRA author Kevin Kwan visited the set in KL one day and heard of the challenge and mentioned that actress Janice Koh’s (she played auntie Felicity Young in the movie) husband was the CEO of Singapore Tourism Board. Ultimately, it went right up to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) of Singapore to get the OK. Watch the producers talk about it in this segment of Oscars video (timecode 9:30).

4) (with video) Location for Young’s family home was a shithole (literally :)  
Finding a location for the Young’s family home was very hard as a home like that doesn’t exist in Singapore. A location was found in KL (where 65% of the film was shot). After watching the beautiful house in the film, you wouldn’t know it was run down, “collapsing on itself” and had monkey pooh on the floor! Watch the producers discussed it in this segment of Oscars video (10:10).

5) (with video) Dumpling & mahjong scenes are new and not in the book
(*** NOTE:
Unfortunately, this video is no longer on YouTube.)
The dumpling scene and the mahjong scene aren’t in the book and I quite like them both. Here co-screenwriter Adele Lim talks about these two scenes in this Q&A.
WARNING: Some spoilers!!!! Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim on writing CRAZY RICH ASIANS (6:53)

6) (with video) Coldplay‘s “Yellow” in Chinese
Director Jon M. Chu (朱浩偉) had to work his magic on Warner Bros and Coldplay to get the song into the movie. QZ has an excellent report in “HOW COLDPLAY’S “YELLOW,” IN CHINESE, ENDED UP ON THE “CRAZY RICH ASIANS” SOUNDTRACK” that is worth reading in full. Here is an excerpt,

The centerpiece of Chu’s remix playlist is a Chinese version of a song by the British band Coldplay, its first real breakout, titled “Yellow” (video). The name itself was enough to cause head-shaking at Warner Bros, when connected with the first US studio film with an all-Asian cast in 25 years. Though the song is not about race, the term “yellow” is fraught with negative associations: It’s identified with cowardice, with illness, with fake news. For Asians, it’s frequently used as a slur, a reference to the color of Asian skin, used in ominous phrases like “yellow peril.” Chu himself says he remembers being called yellow in a “derogatory way throughout high school.”

Some at the studio were concerned that the song would evoke these stereotypes, Chu says. “They were like, ‘Whoa, we can’t do that, what do you think people will say?’ And I told them, ‘Well, a white director couldn’t do it.’”

He convinced the studio. “All credit to them, I said, ‘Guys trust me on this one’ and they gave in,” laughs Chu. But getting Coldplay on board was harder. The band had been taken to task for cultural appropriation following the lurid video for 2012’s “Princess of China,” which put Rihanna in exotic orientalist drag, and again in 2016’s “Hymn for the Weekend,” which was shot in India during the festival of Holi, and featured Beyonce in traditional Indian garb. Coldplay rejected the request to use “Yellow” as soon as it was submitted.

The rejection prompted Chu to write the band a direct letter, explaining his love for the song, and “complicated relationship” with its title. “For the first time in my life, it described the color in the most beautiful, magical ways,” Chu wrote. “The color of the stars, her skin, the love. It was an incredible image of attraction and aspiration that it made me rethink my own self image.” Allowing him to use the song in the movie, Chu wrote, would give a “a whole generation of Asian-Americans, and others, the same sense of pride I got when I heard your song.”

Within an hour, the band emailed him back, granting him permission. As promised, Chu triumphantly features it, unmistakably Sinified, as the film’s final song, during its protagonist’s climactic moment of self-realization. Sung in Mandarin by the Chinese-American YouTuber and The Voice contestant Katherine Ho, it swells anthemically beneath visuals of protagonist Rachel Chu coming to recognize that she’s strong enough to move forward.

Crazy Rich Asians Soundtrack – Yellow – Katherine Ho

7) Constance Wu (Rachel Chu) wrote a heartfelt email to the director
Constance Wu was under contract for her sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat” and they were both filming in the fall. Here is an excerpt from a great NYT report about her last-ditch email,

Constance Wu had resigned herself to the fact that “Crazy Rich Asians” was not going to work out for her. She was under contract for her sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat”, both were filming in the fall, and that was that. “Crazy Rich Asians” would be the first studio-made Asian-American movie in 25 years, and Wu, who has established herself as a crusader for Asian-American representation in Hollywood, would have to sit this historic moment out.

But then, feeling “kind of dramatic,” and thinking about the significance of the project to her and untold number of Asian-Americans who make it a point to tell her their stories because of her tweets and “Fresh Off the Boat,” Wu decided to give it one last shot and composed an email to “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu.

“I said, I know the dates don’t work out and whoever you cast, I will be the first in line and I will be their No. 1 fan and supporter, but I did want to let you know that I would put 110 percent of my heart into this project and I know what to do with it and how to carry a movie and if you can just wait for me, I don’t think you’ll regret it,” Wu, 36, said. “I did NOT think this email would work. I did it more for me so that I felt that I had told my truth. But then he read it and said, “You guys, we’ve got to push the production.”

8) Director Jon M. Chu pitched the film producers using pictures of himself as a little boy
Here is an excerpt from a great Vanity Fair article “How Crazy Rich Asians Gave Director Jon M. Chu a Voice” about the pitch,

“Jon’s pitch started with pictures of him as a little boy with his family,” says Nina Jacobson, a producer on the film. “His dad has a beloved Chinese restaurant in Palo Alto; his mom dressed their whole family (four siblings and Jon) like the Kennedys in all their pictures. He really identified with the idea of going to Asia for the first time and trying to find your place when your identity, first and foremost, is as an American. . . . His pitch was also visually spectacular and the clothes and the palette and the energy of it all really spoke to him. . . . It was everything we imagined, but way better, all realized in this one person who I knew and trusted.”

9a) (with video) Henry Golding didn’t want to audition to play Nick Young
Henry Golding was a travel show presenter and didn’t want to audition to play the role as he thought others would be better suited plus he was getting married and even on his honeymoon during the audition period. And how did a lovely lady in accounting name Lisa Kim got him into all this? :) Watch Golding on Jimmy Fallon talking about this!

9b) Vulture, Aug23, 2018, “The Accountant Who ‘Discovered’ Crazy Rich Asians Star Henry Golding Speaks!

““I get this email from our line producer saying, ‘Hey our accountant said we should look at this guy. He presented at an awards show that she saw, like, five years ago and all her friends are obsessed with him,’” Chu recalls to Vulture. “So I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, another good-looking Asian dude. Got it.’ But I started searching his Instagram. And every video was so charming. He was like Cary Grant!”

Were it not for that offhand suggestion from accountant Lisa-Kim Kuan, Golding — a Malaysian-born, English-reared former model and hairdresser who had found a modicum of fame hosting travel programs for the BBC and Discovery Channel — would never have even tried out for the part. […]

Where did you first encounter Henry? And what made you think he’d make a good Nick?

I was a guest at an event in 2013, a travel show. I can’t recall what it was called. It was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. And Henry was presenting the show. I read Crazy Rich Asians after the event. As I was reading the book, I thought of Henry being the perfect Nick Young. You know how it is when you read a book and you imagine the person to be in that perfect role?

When you first suggested Henry, how seriously did you expect your suggestion to be taken?

The executive producer, Tim Coddington, smiled and nodded with approval. He said he would mention it to Jon Chu. But never in a million years did I think my suggestion would be taken seriously. […]

Now Henry has three movies coming out. How do you feel to have “discovered” Hollywood’s most newly bankable Asian male movie star?

Extremely happy for Henry. My adik [Malay for sister] said to me after [Golding’s appearance on] the Jimmy Fallon show, “You built a bridge for Henry to get to the other side.” I thought that was sweetly appropriate; that was all I did. Everything else was down to Henry.”

10) (with beautiful video) ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ are real
Have a read of this Harpers’ Bazaar article (with video) by Kevin Kwan with beautiful video where “Kwan travels to Paris to meet the Asian style icons who are shaking up the staid world of couture”. (YouTube video)

Bonus:

11) The 23 Major Differences Between the ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Book and the Movie

Check out this really cool Cosmo article as I have forgotten many of them: “The 23 Major Differences Between the ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Book and the Movie

12) Chris Pang (Colin Khoo, Nick’s childhood best friend and Araminta’s fiancé) got his balls punched in an improvised scene

(Spoiler warning) THR, ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Star Completely Improvised One Memorable Scene

13) VOX, “The symbolism of Crazy Rich Asians’ pivotal mahjong scene, explained

6 – expanded) Full letter #CrazyRichAsians director @jonmchu wrote to Coldplay to use its breakout song “Yellow”. Worth a read!

THR, “‘Crazy Rich Asians’: Read the Letter That Convinced Coldplay to Allow “Yellow” in the Movie”

Late updated: 23 Aug, 2018

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