Every once in a while a movie comes along that cuts through the cultural zeitgeist to establish a new dominant narrative regarding a foreign culture. Black Panther was one such movie, and so was Crazy Rich Asians. Henry Golding, who played the dashing lead role in the latter film, opened up to IndieWire regarding the status of Crazy Rich Asians 2 and it’s sequel, which are currently in the works.
“[Director Jon M. Chu] is still at that stage with trying to create a viable storyline for the next two movies. Sometimes, it’s really difficult to translate [the original books] onto the big screen, and with the pressure of trying to keep up the same interest we had with the first movie. The bar has already been raised really high.”
Debuting in 2018, Crazy Rich Asians was an adaptation of the 2013 novel of the same title by Kevin Kwan. The movie told the story of Rachel Chu, an economics professor at New York University, who finds herself head over heels in love with Nick Young, played by Golding. Unknown to Rachel, Nick’s family is immensely wealthy and powerful.
As Rachel tries to ingratiate herself with Nick’s relatives at their Singapore estate, she finds the going tough due to the cultural differences between herself and Nick’s family, particularly his mother. The rest of the movie deals with Rachel and Nick learning to come to terms with the differences in the ways they were both raised, before finally getting engaged.
To date, Kwan has written two direct sequels to Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend, and Rich People Problems. The two novels continue with the story of Rachel and Nick and the ups and downs of their married life. Although Henry Golding is confirmed to be reprising his role as Nick in the two Crazy Rich Asians sequel movies, the actor has drawn criticism in the past for playing Nick, who is of Chinese-Singaporean ethnicity, whereas Golding himself is half-Malaysian and half-British.
The issue of diversity and representation has heated up in Hollywood in the past few years. But there are still no clear guidelines regarding what kind of roles can and cannot be played by actors of a certain ethnicity. For his part, Golding revealed how tiresome complaints regarding him playing Nick have become.
“I’m never going to play my exact race, 100 percent of the time, ever. Unless there’s a half-Malaysian, half-British character, then yeah, okay. We’re actors, at the end of the day, and bringing a discussion of race into a fictional character … it gets really old. I do understand when it comes to having the casting directors, the production team gone through the right challenges and finding the right people for the role. There’s that kind of discussion. But for me, I will never be your A-plus choice for a Chinese character, or an Indonesian character, or an Asian character. In general, I’m not going to be 100 percent right, but I am sure as hell going to play the hell out of that role.”
This news originated at IndieWire.