Meet the Sexy, Hilarious and Revolutionary Cast of 'Crazy Rich Asians' (Exclusive)
By John Boone
Warner Bros. Pictures
Crazy Rich Asians is the first major Hollywood production in 25 years to boast a predominantly Asian cast. I would argue there has never been a cast more gorgeous than this. (And also funny! And heartening! But seriously, everyone is insanely good-looking.) When Kevin Kwan's best-selling novel arrives on the big screen on Aug. 15, prepare to fall in love over and over and over again as you meet the crazy and/or rich Asians of the title, played by -- as director Jon Chu correctly phrased it -- "the Avengers of f**king [Asian] actors."
"I have not felt like a superhero," Wu admitted to ET's Lauren Zima. "I have been so anxious because -- well, because this movie means so much to so many and I want people to enjoy it and get out to the theater. A superhero would know, like, what's going to happen. They would see into the future. I can't see into the future." Allow me to offer a prediction then: This movie -- and its cast -- is going to be huge. While you're certainly going to recognize some familiar faces -- like the iconic Michelle Yeoh and Ken Jeong and Glee's Harry Shum Jr. -- let me formally introduce you to the rest of your new favorite cast.
Constance Wu as Rachel Chu
Where You've Seen Her: As no-nonsense Jessica Huang in the ABC sitcom, Fresh Off the Boat; as one of the Founding Mothers in JAY-Z and Beyoncé's "Family Feud" music video.
"I feel just so tremendously lucky to have done my show [Fresh Off the Boat], which was groundbreaking and historic," Wu explains. "And because of that opportunity, to meet all the Asian-American men and women for whom it meant so much and to hear their stories."
In Crazy Rich Asians, Wu plays an American-born economics professor who travels to Singapore with her boyfriend to meet his family, only to discover that he is secretly, well, crazy rich. In real life, she is an advocate for diversity in the industry (not just "lip service") and makes it clear how much this movie means to her. "Hopefully we can be a part of a movement," she says, "that starts bringing their stories to life. Because obviously our story doesn't represent everyone."
What's Next: The fifth season of Fresh Off the Boat, which premieres on Oct. 5. She also lends her voice to the animated retelling of the genie in a bottle tale from 1001 Nights, called Wish Dragon, alongside the likes of Jackie Chan and her Crazy Rich Asians co-star, Nico Santos.
Henry Golding as Nick Young
Where You've Seen Him: This is Golding's first-ever movie role. Previously, he was a hairdresser and then a television host for BBC's The Travel Show and worked for ESPN Asia.
Golding had some big, expensive shoes to fill embodying one of literature's most eligible bachelors. Thankfully, he happens to be endlessly charming -- not to mention handsome as all get out, with a winning smile and swoonworthy British accent and the abs he reveals in one of numerous glorious shirtless scenes in the film. "Topless in front of Michelle Yeoh! You see, you always forget to mention that," Golding demurs. "Technically, she's my mom, so it wasn't at all in any way a sexual scene or anything."
"It was one of the most heartwarming scenes for me," he pivots. "You really see the core value of why Eleanor [Yeoh] is being so mean or being so testy to Rachel is because she loves her son so much, and it just so happens I was getting changed, so..."
What's Next:A Simple Favor, out Sept. 14, in which he plays husband to Blake Lively's character and eventually becomes involved with Anna Kendrick's. "Those girls are amazing," he says. "I've had such luck to have such empowering, outspoken role models in the form of Michelle Yeoh, Blake and Gemma and Constance. I'm taking it all in. I'm a sponge, and I'm learning the best things."
Awkwafina as Goh Peik Lin
Where You've Seen Her: As Queens pickpocket Constance in this summer's Ocean's 8 reboot; as one of the Kappa Nu sorority girls in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising; rapping in one of her viral music videos (like "Green Tea," with Margaret Cho).
The summer of Awkwafina (born Nora Lum) continues! In Crazy Rich Asians, she plays Rachel's nouveau riche college friend who acts as a fairy godmother of sorts as Rachel tries to win over Nick's disapproving family. "My family just wants me to find someone, you know what I mean? They're just like, 'Oh, him? He'll do,'" Awkwafina jokes of her experiences bringing a significant other home to meet the parents. "It's like, 'She needs to move out. She's eating all the Totino's.' You know what, grandma? I'm moving out. I started a Roth IRA and I'm going to withdraw from it. I'm tired of sleeping head-to-toe with you like the Willy Wonka family, grandma."
As proud as her family is that she is starring in this movie, they seem keen to keep her humble, too, as she is out here texting with the likes of Sandra Bullock and Rihanna and stealing all her scenes in the most anticipated rom-com of the year. She wears a cropped, blonde wig to play Peik Lin and her family reacted as such: "They laughed," she admits. "Yeah, my grandmother laughed mockingly."
What's Next: Awkwafina will co-star with Emma Roberts in the stylish boarding school drama Paradise Hills, and voice (most likely) a bird of some sort in The Angry Birds Movie 2. She also has a pilot at Comedy Central about a twentysomething in Queens that is inspired by her life.
Gemma Chan as Astrid Leong
Where You've Seen Her: As a humanoid "Synth" on AMC's sci-fi series, Humans, which recently aired its third season; as villainous space sorceress Quintessa in Transformers: The Last Knight.
"Although there is incredible wealth in the movie, what the film really is about, at its heart, is about love and it's about family," Chan explains. She would know: Money is no issue to Nick's cousin, Astrid, as she regularly drops millions on whatever she fancies that moment. Still, she remains down-to-earth and kind-hearted, while also navigating romantic troubles of her own.
If Crazy Rich Asians spawns a sequel -- China Rich Girlfriend is the second book in the trilogy -- we will be seeing plenty more Astrid. "Gosh, well, no one really knows exactly what's going to happen. We're excited," Chan says. "For me, I just hope it's the beginning of something. I hope it opens doors for other stories to be told...I think Hollywood's finally waking up realizing that people want to see inclusivity in these stories."
What's Next: Chan will go from Singaporean opulence to Elizabethan royalty, playing Bess of Hardwick in the prime-for-awards-season biopic Mary Queen of Scots, out Dec. 7. Then she's joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe alongside Brie Larson, cast as the alien scientist Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel.
Sonoya Mizuno as Araminta Lee
Where You've Seen Her: As Kyoko the android in writer-director Alex Garland's Oscar-winning sci-fi film, Ex Machina; as Caitlin (Emma Stone's yellow dress-wearing roommate) in the Oscar-winning musical La La Land.
Araminta Lee is the reason any of the titular craziness occurs, as it is her wedding to Nick's best friend that calls him back to Singapore with Rachel. And though Rachel encounters a number of women who want her relationship to crash and burn so they can have a shot at wooing Nick, as Mizuno exclaims, "We're the nice ones!...I'm not catty towards Rachel at all. The problem with my character is I'm so kind of caught up in what's going on -- and fair enough so, because it's my wedding -- that I don't notice what's happening behind the scenes."
What's Next: Mizuno will reteam with Emma Stone on the Netflix limited series Maniac, with Jonah Hill and Justin Theroux. (The series streams Sept. 21.) She's then reteaming with Garland for the third time -- she also appeared in Annihilation as the humanoid double -- for Devs, an FX limited sci-fi series with Nick Offerman.