Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu knew that Coldplay’s “Yellow” was the song he needed for the key final moments of his film. And while the band initially turned down the request to use their 2000 hit song, Chu didn’t give up, penning a powerful and personal letter that seemingly sealed the deal.
Dated Dec. 8, 2017 and first shared by The Hollywood Reporter, Chu’s letter to Coldplay members Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, and Will Champion began with him discussing the negative connotation of “yellow” when applied to Asian culture and how their song helped flip the word’s narrative for him.
“I know it’s a bit strange, but my whole life I’ve had a complicated relationship with the color yellow,” wrote Chu. “From being called the word in a derogatory way throughout grade school, to watching movies where they called cowardly people yellow, it’s always had a negative connotation in my life. That is, until I heard your song. For the first time in my life, it described the color in the most beautiful, magical ways I had ever heard: the color of the stars, her skin, her love. It was an incredible image of attraction and aspiration that it made me rethink my own self image.”
He continued, “It immediately became an anthem for me and my friends and gave us a new sense of pride we never felt before…(even though it probably wasn’t ever your intention). We could reclaim the color for ourselves and it has stuck with me for the majority of my life.”
After describing the plot and its significance as a rare Hollywood film featuring an all-Asian cast, Chu said what an honor it would to have the song in this “special” project. “It will give a whole generation of Asian-Americans, and others, the same sense of pride I got when I heard your song,” he concluded. “I know it’s recontextualized but I think that’s what makes it powerful. I want all of them to have an anthem that makes them feel as beautiful as your words and melody made me feel when I needed it most.”
According to THR, within 24 hours of the letter being sent, the band agreed to the request. “We had a couple of other contenders, but we just temped this song in, and it was so incredible that we knew this was what we had to do,” Crazy Rich Asians music supervisor Gabe Hilfer recently told EW. “Once they saw it, they were enthusiastically on board. They appreciated the gravity of it.”
Once approved, Hilfer found Katherine Ho, a former The Voice contestant who is fluent in Mandarin, to perform the version for the film, which (spoiler alert) plays through Nick’s (Henry Golding) airplane proposal to his and Rachel’s (Constance Wu) engagement party.
Crazy Rich Asians is now in theaters. Read the full letter here.