IR Interview: Jay Sits Down With Author Kevin Kwan and Co-Stars Gemma Chan and Jimmy O. Yang to Discuss Their Delightful New Film CRAZY RICH ASIANS

by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

“Crazy Rich Asians” is a contemporary romantic comedy based on the acclaimed worldwide bestseller by Kevin Kwan. The story follows New Yorker Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) as she accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding), to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. Excited about visiting Asia for the first time but nervous about meeting Nick’s family, Rachel is unprepared to learn that Nick has neglected to mention a few key details about his life. Not only is he the scion of one of the country’s wealthiest families, but also one of its most sought-after bachelors. Being on Nick’s arm puts a target on Rachel’s back, with jealous socialites and, worse, Nick’s own disapproving mother (Michelle Yeoh) taking aim. It soon becomes clear that the only thing crazier than love is family, in this funny and romantic story sure to ring true for audiences everywhere.

Directed by Jon M. Chu, “Crazy Rich Asians” features an international cast of stars, led by Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, and Awkwafina, with Ken Jeong and Michelle Yeoh. The large starring ensemble also includes Sonoya Mizuno, Chris Pang, Jimmy O. Yang, Ronny Chieng, Remi Hii, Nico Santos, and Jing Lusi.

Gemma Chan plays one of the book’s most beloved characters, “Astrid’s story is so big, we had to be very strategic about which parts of it to include,” Chu acknowledges. “Casting was also challenging because Astrid is so flawless, you wonder how such a person could exist on this planet.” In sync with many fan-site wish lists, the director’s search led to Gemma Chan. “She’s so elegant and warm. She can appear both relatable and untouchable at the same time, which is, I think, the trick to playing Astrid with all those facets to her personality and upbringing. Gemma was the
absolute embodiment of the role,” he says.

Bernard Tai, enthusiastically portrayed by Jimmy O. Yang. Not technically related, Bernard nabs the honor of staging Colin’s bachelor party via his father’s business ties with Colin’s dad. In other words, they’re stuck with him. Yang calls him “a billionaire playboy not doing much with his life except partying and having fun. He’s kind of a douche, but he loves himself and he loves life. Imagine an 18-year-old who just graduated high school with a billion dollars.”

Author, Kevin Kwan served as an executive producer on the film and makes a cameo in the montage where the gossip over Nick and Rachel’s imminent visit goes viral. He consulted on myriad details from character to costumes, locations to design, opened up his private family albums to inspire the design teams and even put the filmmakers in touch with a private watch collector who lent the production a prized high-end timepiece that arrived with its own security escort. “He was the best creative partner,” Chu attests.

I was fortunate to speak to author Kevin Kwan, as well as Gemma Chan and Jimmy O. Yang on their recent stop in Boston.

The following interview has been edited for content and clarity.

By virtue of the process there are always differences between a book and film. Going into it were you told they were going to change some things? Did you have input even though you weren’t the one adapting the book for the screenplay?

Kevin Kwan: I was involved in the very beginning. I chose the screenwriter and worked with him. I helped to really lay out the general outline of the story and I knew that HE needed to make the choices, the hard choices. I didn’t know which babies I wanted to sacrifice. I’m glad I didn’t play that role. It was very clear to me from the start that we needed someone to make those hard decisions and really adapt a five-hundred page book into an hour and forty-five minutes. You’re going to lose storylines, you’re going to lose characters and hopefully we can do many more movies so THAT gets covered. I’m thrilled with how it was adapted.

What does this movie mean to you? It’s the first big studio film in a quarter century to feature an all Asian cast and there’s not enough of these being made. Did you feel the added weight of that responsibility to make sure the film was great so that there would be more opportunity for Asians going forward?

Jimmy O. Yang: I think as an actor and seeing the script with a full Asian cast, it’s so surprising that you think, “Oh my god, I can’t believe this is getting made and I NEED to be a part of this.” Then I start uncovering more and more how great this project actually is. Reading the script, it’s a good, funny script and getting to audition, I auditioned for Colin first and then they offered me the Bernard role which I was more than happy to play. Then start to listen to the audio books and hang out with everyone. When we landed in Singapore, in the hotel lobby and we’re all like, “You like Asian food, too?” like, of course. “And you like karaoke?” It was just such a special bond that all of us have and still have. We’re still really good friends, all of us.

Kevin Kwan: Which never happens, right? You see them and then you never see them again.

Jimmy O. Yang: Yeah. All the time. I might have one friend from each movie that I still kinda talk to. THIS is different. When Ronnie (Chieng), whenever he comes from New York to L.A. or Gemma (Chan) is in town, when Kevin (Kwan) is in town… it’s like, let’s hang. We are each others priority, because really… for me culturally, yes, of course, it’s very important. In just a microcosm in a personal sense, it felt like I found my creed in my peers, which has been very hard for me as a comic and as an actor. Hopefully the audience will feel the same way, watching this movie they will finally feel like our voice is being heard and that our faces are being represented. Hopefully it’s just one of many to come and this is to just open up the doors. I think it’s a great start and we’re all very excited about it.

Gemma Chan: What really excited me when I read the script and the books was that although this specific story was about these characters that happen to be Asian, the themes of it are really very universal. Love, friendship, family, relationships, the conflict between old and new and different generations. It excited me that I could feel that that would be something that would resonate and would appeal, hopefully, to people who aren’t Asian.

Kevin Kwan: Absolutely.

Gemma Chan: If you’ve ever felt like you didn’t quite fit in or that you’re an outsider, that that’s something that would speak to you. For so long the universal experience has been assumed to be white and what I hope this shows, this story, is that it doesn’t have to be. Anyone should be able to watch this film and identify and feel for these characters. That’s the significance for me.

Jimmy O. Yang: Yeah. It’s an Asian story, but at the same time it’s a very authentic story, I think that’s why it’s so good because Kevin actually knows these people and has had the experiences. I think it encourages more authentic writing from everyone, which includes Asians and other minorities.

Did you find that because of Hollywood executives might make the argument that because you have non-white leads and a non-white cast that you had to compensate in any way to make the film especially appealing.

Kevin Kwan: We really didn’t encounter that, actually. There was one producer that suggested we change the lead to a white Reese, Johansson or someone like that. I didn’t even entertain that. Every other producer that came was really truly interested in the idea of this film because of the story. The story is one that transcends race. It’s called Crazy Rich Asians, but it’s not just because their Asian. It’s a universal story. They saw the potential for this in the worldwide market.

Jimmy O. Yang: I think people should look at this like a Game of Thrones, this author has so much source material that takes you to a different world. When we watched the first clip at the wrap party, just a little trailer that Jon (director Jon M. Chu) made for the cast, I was like, “Oh my god, the color, the people, the sets-”

Kevin Kwan: The music!

Jimmy O. Yang: The music! It was just like, oh this is not just a bunch of Asian people. This is literally like taking you to Narnia or Middle Earth or Westeros. It’s a whole new world that they’ve set up that hopefully everyone can enjoy. It just so happens that in this world everyone is Asian.

Was there anything from the book that you wanted to keep in the film that didn’t end up in the script?

Kevin Kwan: Wow. So much. There’s so many characters and storylines that were dear to me that didn’t make it in.

Gemma Chan: Astrid and Charlie.

Kevin Kwan: Beginning with Astrid and Charlie. That’s a huge storyline that her entire emotional arc was very severely cut down. Although we did restore quite a bit of it as we went along. But there was just no time. An hour and forty-five minutes.

Gemma Chan: I’m waiting for the spin-off.

What were you most excited to see brought to life from the book? Was there anything that surprised you in the film?

Kevin Kwan: I think it was really cool how Jon supersized things. I had a vision of an amazing, obnoxious bachelor party, for example. In my book it takes place on a super yacht and he was like, how can we make this cinematic to a degree that people’s jaws will drop? So he did it on a super tanker. The wedding, for example, in my book it’s only a fifty million dollar wedding and that’s old hat at this point for the really, truly rich Chinese. So how could we take that and really convey that in a way that would be spectacular? I think he succeeded. I watched it and my jaw dropped in the wedding scene when the bride enters. Not only is it a spectacle, it’s just so emotionally engaging. The music, everything, it all worked. To me, those were the surprise moments.

What was it like shooting in Singapore?

Kevin Kwan: Singapore and Malaysia.

Kevin, Gemma: It was hot.

Jimmy O. Yang: It was like one-hundred fifteen degrees.

Gemma Chan: It was SO hot.

Jimmy O. Yang: The bachelor party scene was in an empty parking lot in the middle of nowhere in Malaysia. It had a functioning helipad that was three stories high. I got sunburned from my gold chain. We couldn’t have shot that anywhere else. It was brilliant.

Kevin Kwan: You could feel the heat.

Jimmy O. Yang: You need to feel the experience, right? And eat the local food. It was like a whole immersive experience. I do not think we could have done this movie on a sound stage in L.A.

There was obviously material that was excised when adapting the book to a screenplay, but were there scenes that you shot that you were bummed to see cut?

Jimmy O. Yang: There was a lot of the bachelor party that was edited out. That was actually way more ridiculous than (what was in the film). We improvised quite a bit. I was happy with how it turned out. We got some of it back in the wedding with the scene of me and Chris Pang and Colin. That was completely improvised and I’m glad they kept it in there. I know that the character serves the story and I gotta come off the bench and hit a couple shots, you know? Because everyone is so good in this romantic, great plot and I just need to get some laughs in the serious moments to cut it up and I get that. It’s no hard feelings, everybody else is so great. If everybody else sucked and they cut out my great scenes I would have had a problem, but this whole movie was such respect for each other and everybody pulled their weight. Even when scenes got cut we were happy to see other people shine.

Gemma Chan: I really thought that the whole cast did such a great job. Every character, no matter how long their screen time was were distinctive and had their moment and did shine. It was amazing to watch. Same as Jimmy, I did do scenes that did not make it into the movie, but when I saw the film I was completely happy and understood why that had happened and this just means there is a wealth of stuff we can put into the sequel.

 

Be sure to check out the delightful Crazy Rich Asians in theaters today!

THE MIDDLE Spin-Off Has Pilot Ordered by ABC

The Middle is a fun family show about a family. It just concluded with the end of Season 9 earlier this year and since then, rumors of a spin-off have been circulating. Well, those rumors aren’t rumors anymore. ABC has finally announced that they’ve ordered a pilot for a spin-off that will focus on Sue Heck played by Eden Sher. It is said that the spin-off will pick up a couple years after the end of the original timeline of the show, and before the flash-forward. This means that we’ll get to see Sue mature in the big city of Chicago. Honestly, it sounds a bit like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt minus the bunker.

I enjoy The Middle. I think the characters are fantastic and the show is a lot of fun. However, for me, you need all the characters sharing the stage to make it good. I don’t think a show focusing on one family member is a great idea. I also don’t believe that most shows should go on for more than 5 or 6 seasons, so I guess you can take what I say with a grain of salt since this one lasted for 9. What do you think? Should they have focused on someone else? Should they have not bothered with a spin-off in the first place?

Source: TVLine

Hasbro Releases Vague Statement Regarding POWER RANGERS Sequel Rumors

Rumors have been abound for the past week that a sequel to the Power Rangers film is going to happen, and that Hasbro currently has Allspark Pictures developing a sequel to the film. Now, the toy company has broken its silence regarding the rumors, and shared the following cryptic message for all to read:

We see tremendous potential for the Power Rangers franchise around our entire brand blueprint, including feature films. We have nothing specific to announce at this time, but please stay tuned for future news and updates around the Power Rangers brand.

I would take that as, "Yeah we might be working on something, but we have no idea of whether or not it's going to pan out." Clearly the end of the first film teased the Green Ranger reveal, so we already know Hasbro is interested. At this point I think it's more or less the company deciding on an idea to move forward on, and then they'll make a more concrete announcement. 

Personally, I was not a huge fan of the new Power Rangers film, but I'm not necessarily mad a sequel is in development. What are your thoughts on the new franchise?

A Joy-Con Fishing Rod Is Headed To The Switch Soon

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Back in the glory days of the Wii, an accessory was made available by Nintendo that allows players to add a plastic fishing rod thingy on their remote. Now it seems that this accessory is making a comeback on the Nintendo Switch, with a game included. 

The fishing rod add-on is designed to make your Joy-Con resemble a real, yet shorter version of a fishing rod. The accessory is inserted into the Joy-Con, and the other controller will also be incorporated to resemble a reel. The design is basically similar to the original when the Wii remote and Nunchuck were used instead of the modern Joy-Cons. 

The cool part here is that the accessory comes with a game called Bass Pro Shops: The Strike - Championship Edition, which is a Switch port of the Wii game. The art box of the game, found by Nintendo Life, describes itself as “the newest edition of Bass Pro Shops’ fishing games.” 

This latest accessory shows how the Switch, just like the original Wii, is versatile with its motion-control gimmicks. What do you think of this fishing game for the Switch? Yay or nay? 

Source: Euromonitor

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What if Marvel Introduces The Fantastic Four To The MCU Using the Ant-Man Series

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Before anyone gets in arms about this being Fake News or Clickbait or just dumb, I'll start by saying none of the things in this video are official, it's just thoughts on what could be a cool way to introduce the Fantastic Four into the MCU to start a discussion. I've put it in video form too, for those of you who hate to read. 

I go over why Marvel's best bet for introducing new characters is through previously made properties, as well as what kind of story I would put them in together, and what kind of casting I would have for both the Fantastic Four and the Villains. Check it out if you're bored.

This is the beginning of an ongoing series called Whatif Butnot. Where I basically spout off ideas that would be cool for pop culture things to do and what might happen if they... um.. do those things, knowing full well, that because I brought it up on the internet, it will therefore never come to pass. But it's fun to imagine.

Director Niki Caro Shares First Set Photo From Disney’s MULAN

We recently got our first look at Liu Yifei as Mulan and it was awesome. Now, we’re getting another look at the live-action adaptation from director Niki Caro herself. The photo is a set photo and it is very reminiscent of when Mulan sings “Reflection” after the disastrous meeting with the matchmaker in the animated film. Of course, a lot of the picture is green screen, but I think it’s safe to say that it should look a lot better after they do some editing. Although it looks like a perfect moment for Mulan to be singing, we already know that’s not going to happen.

Mulan. Day #1. Reflections. #mulan #disney #yifei_cc

In addition to Yifei, the cast includes Utkarsh Ambudkar, Yoson An, Rosalind Chao, Chum Ehelepola, Jason Scott Lee, Nelson Lee, Gong Li, Jet Li, Tzi Ma, Cheng Pei-Pei, Donnie Yen, and Ron Yuan. Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Elizabeth Martin, and Lauren Hynek wrote the script based on the narrative poem, “The Ballad of Mulan.”

Mulan will launch on March 27, 2020.

New Photo of Chris Pine as The Scottish Warrior Robert The Bruce in OUTLAW KING

 

We've got a new photo to share with you today of Chris Pine as Robert The Bruce in the upcoming Scottish war movie Outlaw King. The film comes from Hell or High Water director David Mackenzie and it's period epic that will tell the true story of the Scottish king, Robert The Bruce, who led his country to freedom from English rule in the early 14th century. The story is set during the brutal period between 1298 to 1306 when Scotland was at the knees of King Edward I of England.

I'm excited to see this film. Braveheart is one of my favorite movies of all time and Outlaw King seems to interweave with that story. Pine also looks great in the role. When talking about the film, producer Gillian Barrie tells EW:

"Robert sacrificed everything he once owned to set Scotland free. He was the second richest person in the British Isles. He gave up everything to take on the most ridiculously powerful army and king. He had to go to hell and back.
"I’m very happy for William to be a national treasure, an icon. But it’s much more deserving that Robert the Bruce gets his place in history."

She goes on to talk about Pine taking on the role of Bruce, saying:

"He’s amazing, apart from the fact his accent is spot on and his horsemanship was stunning. He was genuinely a leader for the rest of the cast. The amount of stunts and action he had to perform on daily basis … riding in a wild terrain, thrown into waterfalls…my hat’s off to him, really."

The movie also stars Ben Foster, Duncan Lacroix, Steven Cree, Alastair Mackenzie, and Florence Pugh. The movie will be released on Netflix on November 9th.

Elizabeth Banks Set To Star in a Film about a Wyoming Hotel Maid That Went on a Dream Date with Prince

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Paramount Players has picked up the right to a story from the Daily Beast titled "When Prince Made a Chambermaid His Queen for a Day". Elizabeth is set to star in and produce the film, which tells the story of a Wyoming hotel maid that won a dream date with Prince in 1986. Here's the story of how that went down and what the story will focus on:

The studio staged Win A Date With Prince, an MTV contest in which the 10,000th caller won a date with the rock star. Actually, more than a date: the studio would stage a premiere of Prince’s film in the winner’s hometown, followed by a concert toplined by Prince and The Revolution. The winner was Lisa Barber, a young lady in Sheridan, Wyoming who cleaned hotels and was a big Motley Crue fan. The movie is inspired by an article about the Cinderella story date, but the movie will be about how the event changed the lives of two very different women – the Manhattan PR exec responsible for the event’s success and the shy, awkward contest winner from Wyoming, whose town becomes the unexpected nexus of all things Prince for one unforgettable night.

The report goes on to say that Prince will not be in the movie and clarifies he will not be played by an actor. It's explained that "his presence will hover through the film." The report adds:

The movie will focus on the herculean effort that went into organizing an event that brought the 5’3″ purple-clad rock icon to a small cowboy town and established his date as a reluctant media sensation. As the article implied “behind the scenes, coke-fueled chaos reigned.” This added to the complexity because though Prince died from an accidental overdose of the opiod Fentanyl at age 57 (he took the drug to dull the pain from the physical toll of executing his manic dance moves and jumps wearing his ever present high heeled boots) — Prince at the time was a teetotaler who actually fined his guitarist Wendy Melvoin for drinking a Bud at the bar with Joni Mitchell that night.

Banks will play the publicist in the story, Robyn Riggs, in the film and it's said that she "was no choir girl." This sounds like an interesting story to tell and I'll be looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Screenwriter Flora Greeson was hired to rewrite a first draft that originally written by producer Josh Stolberg. Here's some old video footage giving you a little more insight into the story.

Source: Deadline

Warner Bros Wants a Female Director For Their SUPERGIRL Film

Deadline reports that Warner Bros. is being very vocal about wanting a female director for the recently announced Supergirl film.

No names have been mentioned as to who they are considering though. It appears that DC and WB are really hoping that their female characters will help pick up the slack at the box office as they currently have at least 4 female-led films in development and half of them are being directed by women with the other half not having directors.

This move, of course, makes sense as their most critically acclaimed film and their highest grossing film since attempting to start the Worlds of DC has both starred a woman and was directed by a woman.

Oren Uziel has already been hired to write the script for Supergirl, but no other names have been attached to the project. Who do you think should direct the movie?

Here’s A Glimpse Of BATTLEFIELD 5’s Gamescom Trailer

A few hours ago, developer DICE has released a 15-second preview of the upcoming game Battlefield 5. The short trailer did not reveal anything significant about the game, because it is just a teaser, but the footage was full of explosions and tanks all over the place. The full trailer, which is labeled as Gamescom Trailer - Devastation of Rotterdam, will be launched tomorrow. 

Speculation on what the trailer will reveal has been circulating for a few days now. Some people are anticipating a preview of a possible multiplayer map, or even a new single-player campaign depicting the events of the Battle for Rotterdam. Whether these rumors are true or not, we will know for sure when the full trailer is released. 

DICE is still yet to reveal on the exact time the Gamescom trailer of Battlefield 5 will be unveiled tomorrow. The Gamescom event itself will take place on August 21st to 25th and will be held in Cologne, Germany. It is expected that DICE will reveal more info about the upcoming game at the event. 

Battlefield 5 is scheduled to release on October 19 for the PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. 

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