The film version of the bedazzling best-seller Crazy Rich Asians blazes onto the big screen next year, starring Henry Golding and Constance Wu. EW Correspondent Shirley Li goes behind the scenes of the ridiculously glam romance that’s about to sweep the Far East—and the Near West—off its feet.
This cinematic love story focuses on Rachel, an American-born Chinese, who has difficulty understanding the customs Nick’s family has followed for generations. “This is about a girl going somewhere that’s foreign to her, to really find out who she is,” explains Wu, who plays Rachel. “It’s just such a beautiful story, to show an Asian-American immigrant going back to Asia and finding the things that overlap and connect us all, things like family, things like love.”
Few Hollywood films have featured exclusively Asian principal casts since The Joy Luck Club pulled it off more than two decades ago. As the director behind the first one in many years, Jon M. Chu feels the importance of delivering a hit, “There’s the feeling that if you don’t make a great movie, then all of this is for nothing.” This is not Crazy Rich Asians Who Will Solve All of Hollywood’s Representation Problems, though. Chu says, “We need many stories. We need another rom-com that’s totally different from Crazy Rich Asians. There just needs to be more.” Chu scrutinized audition tape after audition tape to ensure an exclusively Asian cast, combing nearly a thousand submissions resulting in a giant spreadsheet that looked something like an Asian IMDB. “I think we now have the deepest database of Asian actors that speak English in the world. It was worth it. The best thing we ever did on this movie was cast this cast.”
And while campaigns against the industry’s habit of “whitewashing”—i.e., casting white actors in ethnically Asian roles—have grown in recent years, the practice itself hasn’t ended. During one early meeting with one potential producer who wanted to adapt the novel, Kwan says he was even asked to reimagine his protagonist as a white woman. “I was like, ‘Well, you’ve missed the point completely,’ ” he recalls. “I said, ‘No, thank you.’ ”
EW senior writer Tim Stack investigates Netflix hit House of Cards’ suspended production following accusations that Kevin Spacey tried to have sex with Anthony Rapp when Rapp was 14 years old. Cards announced that the season currently in production would be its last, before suspending production altogether to address concerns. An A-list agent tells EW, “I think that Mr. Spacey has serious issues moving forward. Netflix was swift and brutal and may have ended him.”
Could Cards alter Spacey’s involvement in the show? Another top TV showrunners weighs in, “It’s very late in the game to blow up the show. But they can rewrite everything depending on how extensively Spacey was planned for the season, and how much they are willing to spend to keep production shut down until they figure it out.”
As an indie ingénue, Greta Gerwig mastered the art of the lovable oddball. With Lady Bird, she’s written and directed a vivid coming-of-age tale and established herself as a bold, self-assured new filmmaking voice.
In her directing debut, Gerwig worked closely with her cinematographer, Sam Levy, who would send her a photo of a female director on set at the start of each workweek with an encouraging “Here’s a picture for you, boss.”
Her parents, brother, and childhood best friend watched it together in Sacramento and called her in happy tears afterward. She tells EW, “I’m nervous about my parents watching everything – but I’d say I was probably not as nervous as having them watch Ben Stiller go down on me in Greenberg.”
HOLIDAY MOVIE PREVIEW
It’s the most wonderful time of the year at the movies, with a fish-out-of-water romance, an ice princess and more than a dozen other must-see films to make your season bright.
At 52 years old, Guillermo del Toro made a movie for 6-year-old Guillermo del Toro: The Shape of Water. The Pan’s Labyrinth director wanted to make a film about those marginalized in society and the things that ultimately unite everyone: love and the movies.
Director Craig Gillespie says he was drawn to I, Tonya through the odd parallels to his 2007 movie Lars and the Real Girl. “The idea of trying to get an audience to embrace a guy falling in love with a sex doll is a tall order. Tonya Harding is such an iconic villain that the idea of trying to make her sympathetic I found really interesting.”
One key decision that helped make Coco’s corpses compelling: filling those empty sockets. “You don’t typically see skeletons with eyes, but I knew if I was going to have tender, soulful moments with these characters, I needed the audience to be able to look right into them. It’s cliché but the eyes are the window to the soul,” says director Lee Unkrich.