SINGAPORE: The director of the film adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan’s best-seller about Singapore’s secret moneyed elite, is keen to shoot as much of the movie here as possible, while hinting that local actors could be in line for some key roles.
Jon M Chu told Channel NewsAsia in a telephone interview that casting is underway.
“We really want this to be a showcase for the best Asian talent out there so we are opening it up to see as many people. Maybe we don’t find anybody or maybe we’ll find the next big star, but we want to have that opportunity to open (it) up to people.”
The 37-year-old filmmaker, who is known for the concert film Justin Bieber: Never Say Never and action flicks such as G.I. Joe: Retaliation, said that he could not reveal who has already been cast, but the production team is in talks with several actors.
That didn’t stop Channel NewsAsia fishing for some hints about who could be part of the lineup of all-Asian leads.
“As you know, I cannot confirm or deny your choices!” he replied with a laugh after reading our list. “However, I would say I like your choices. You have good people!"
"Do advise me on any other local people I need to see," he continued. "Throw more local names at me. I'm always open to options and would love to hear your thoughts."
He did, however, confirm his admiration for Wu.
“I would say that she would be someone (in contention for a role). She would be part of a dream cast in whatever capacity,” he said. “I am a huge admirer of Constance, she is an amazing talented woman. I think even more so, the way she has stood up for Asians in Hollywood and representation in the media is heroic and actually has affected me personally of how I see the business that I’ve been in the last ten years. And I would say she is a big influence actually on how I look at this movie.”
Chu also revealed that the team has been working for several months with casting directors all over the world, from Singapore, Hong Kong and London to Canada, Australia and the U.S.
“We’ve been basically doing a worldwide search…we’ve seen a lot. We also realised there are probably a lot of great Asian actors from all walks of life of all ages that we just haven’t seen yet,” he revealed.
Which is why Chu is tapping social media platforms to reach out. From now till Feb 10, social media users are being invited to post a video of themselves to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube with the hashtag #CrazyRichAsiansCasting for a chance to be part of the film.
LOCATION SHOOTING IN SINGAPORE?
The film is reportedly set to start filming in April, with location shoots in Singapore looking possible.
“We are in the process right now, talking to the Singapore Film Commission,” said Chu.
“We would love to come to Singapore to shoot… in fact we are trying to shoot as much in Singapore as possible. Sometimes it’s only a matter of finding the right locations. Something like Tyersall Park (a palatial estate in the novel) may be difficult to find but hopefully we will find it. We are in the process right now.”
Meanwhile, Chu is learning more about the Singapore featured in Kwan’s book.
“I would say I am in the middle of my education!” he replied with a laugh. “Ever since signing on to this movie, I’ve gotten so many emails and calls and tweets about people wanting to show me the real Singapore. The rich Singapore and the crazy Singapore. The mix of cultures in Singapore.”
According to Chu, both he and the production team have already visited twice in the last few months. “To explore and to hang out with the rich and famous,” he teased. “We’ve also been around the hawker markets and just around people to just get a sense.”
“In a way, I’m sort of like Rachel (one of the lead characters), coming into this world...I’m coming into this new land that she’s never been to but also feels very much like home. I feel very similar things, so I’m taking notes on all the things that I feel, when I see something that surprises me or captures my heart...in Singapore.
“I’m soaking all this in right now.”