Crazy Rich Asians
The sprawling ensemble cast of the film adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s decadent novel is an embarrassment of riches. Here, EW introduces who’s who in the cast of Crazy Rich Asians.
Constance Wu as Rachel Chu
The actress plays the Chinese-American professor dating Nick (Henry Golding), who — unbeknownst to her — is one of Asia’s richest, most eligible bachelors. Wu has worked with a predominantly Asian cast before as Jessica Huang on ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat, so to her, Crazy Rich Asians is special for its multilayered portrayal of Asian culture. “Asians have this thing put on them, which is like the perpetual foreigner,” she says. “This movie does have some of that, but it has other things to say, that Asian-Americans and Asians aren’t just one thing, they’re a multitude of things.”
Henry Golding as Nick Young
The dreamboat son of Singapore’s unofficial first family was one of the toughest roles to cast, but the travel host, who was born in Malaysia, grew up in England, and now lives in Singapore, ultimately nabbed the part. “Nick is an extremely genuine guy,” Golding explains. “He wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s caught in this crossfire… He’s a little befuddled, but his heart is in the right place, and that’s what [director Jon M. Chu] really wanted to put across.”
Michelle Yeoh as Eleanor Young
The Malaysia-born superstar needs no introduction. The actress, who currently stars on CBS’ Star Trek: Discovery and who’s stolen scenes in Tomorrow Never Dies, Sunshine, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and many, many more films in her decades-long career, plays Eleanor, Nick’s overprotective mother, who’s spent her life cultivating the Young throne for Nick to inherit. “For me, Michelle Yeoh is the queen of everything,” Golding says. “She’s the ultimate, classy, accomplished, graceful woman.” When told that Golding had called her a queen, Yeoh laughs, delighted. “It’s very encouraging to see such a pool of very talented, young actors,” she says. “And especially Henry, I mean, I’m so proud of him. I’m very happy he was my son.”
Awkwafina as Goh Peik Lin
The rapper and rising star (she’s one of Ocean’s 8, also out in 2018) sports a blonde coif and a ballsy personality to play Rachel’s confidante and college friend who lives in Singapore and belongs to Asia’s new-money set. “I was kind of nervous about it, but it clicked,” she says. “I felt a very natural connection to her. She’s comic relief, and her character is relatively lighthearted.” In fact, she found that it was easier to tap into her rap personality — captured in NSFW, hilarious tracks like “My Vag” — to capture her bombastic role. “I think I gave Awkwafina to Peik Lin, you know?” she says. “They blended.”
Ken Jeong as Goh Wye Mun
The Community and Dr. Ken alum compares his role as Peik Lin’s father to his most memorable big-screen turn in The Hangover films. “He’s like a well-intentioned Mr. Chow in many ways,” the actor says, laughing. “He is gaudy and flashy, and he was just so much fun to play.” He also becomes of Rachel’s few allies abroad, welcoming her with open arms instead of suspecting she’s only after Nick’s money. “He loves his daughter and therefore any friend of his daughter’s is family to him,” Jeong says. “Everything just comes from a very sweet, supportive place.”
Gemma Chan as Astrid Leong
Chan had been a fan of the book before learning of its film adaptation and jumped at the chance to play Astrid, Nick’s rebellious, stunning, and flighty favorite cousin who grapples with insecurities over her marriage. “Astrid was my favorite character, and she’s quite a lot of people’s favorite character, so no pressure at all,” the Humans star admits, chuckling. “I love her because she’s obviously from a very privileged background, but she’s a complex woman. In a way Astrid was the first in her family to be a bit of a rebel and to marry someone who works from outside of the expected group… She’s become slightly ashamed of her family and her wealth.”
Harry Shum Jr. as Charlie Wu
The Glee alum and Shadowhunters star plays Charlie Wu, an old friend of Astrid’s, who winds up back in her orbit now that Singapore’s gearing up for its might-as-well-be-royal wedding between Araminta and Colin.
Pierre Png as Michael Teo
The Singaporean actor makes his Hollywood debut with Crazy Rich Asians. In the film, Png stars as Michael Teo, the handsome outsider with a growing tech business who marries Astrid Leong, but never finds himself comfortable with being a part of the upper echelon of Asian society. (The fact that his in-laws still think he married “up” doesn’t help matters.) His dynamic with his wife is tenuous at best, Chan notes: “Astrid’s always slightly stepping on eggshells around Michael, because she doesn’t want to emasculate him,” she says. “But even that in an of itself is not ideal. The fact that she’s hiding anything is something that’s causing problems in their relationship.”
Sonoya Mizuno as Araminta Lee
Singapore’s socialite idol and fiancee of Nick’s best friend Colin Khoo (Chris Pang) “feels everything 110 percent,” Mizuno says. But Araminta isn’t only big in personality; she’s also the biggest role Mizuno’s landed to date. The classically trained dancer made her movie debut in 2015’s Ex Machina — as the android who danced alongside Oscar Isaac — and most recently appeared in La La Land as one of Emma Stone’s roommates. In Crazy Rich Asians, Mizuno’s Araminta does her best to bring Rachel into the high-society fold by inviting Rachel to her bachelorette, but even she can’t control how her peers treat her new friend. “She’s not a conniving woman trying to take Rachel down,” Mizuno says, “but she is oblivious to the pain that Rachel goes through at her bachelorette.”
Chris Pang as Colin Khoo
The Australian-Asian actor who’s appeared in films like I, Frankenstein and series like Marco Polo plays Araminta’s groom and Nick’s best friend since childhood. But as warm as he and Araminta are to Rachel — they take her and Nick to a hawker center for Singaporean food as soon as they land — they’re also the antithesis of the personalities Rachel ends up meeting during her time in Asia. “Rachel has a hard time when she comes over to Singapore and it’s mainly due to the fact that he hasn’t prepared Rachel to what life in Singapore is like with his relatives, with all these people who have wealth and dreams,” Golding says. “That’s his fault.”
Jimmy O. Yang as Bernard Tai
If you’re a fan of HBO’s Silicon Valley, you know Yang better as Jian Yang, the perpetual thorn in Erlich’s (TJ Miller) side and purveyor of See Food, the app that will identify hot dogs and not hot dogs. If you’re not, then meet Jimmy O. Yang, who makes his mark in Crazy Rich Asians as Bernard Tai, who’s wealthy, and proud to be. Bernard throws Colin a bachelor party with all the extravagances he can muster — and he can muster many — but he’s crippled by a complete lack of taste. (Not that he’s aware of that, of course.) Yang, Golding recalls, was one of the actors struck by the amount of Asian faces he saw on set: “I remember Jimmy was just so proud to be a part of an ensemble cast of Asians from all different background,” he says. “He was saying, ‘This is the first time I’ve experienced it, and it makes me yearn for more.’”
Ronny Chieng as Eddie Cheng
The comedian and Daily Show correspondent takes his curiosity to Crazy Rich Asians as Eddie Cheng, the status-obsessed cousin of Nick’s who tends to greet people by interrogating them about their backgrounds. Eddie looks like he has the picture-perfect life, with a beautiful wife and three children and a robust career in investment banking, but it’s all to keep up appearances. As for Chieng, who grew up in Singapore and Australia, he recently hosted a Daily Show segment in response to Fox News’ host Jesse Watters’ mockery of Chinese-Americans in New York City’s Chinatown, which went viral.
Remy Hii as Alistair Cheng
The Australian-Asian actor most recently starred in Netflix’s Marco Polo, but has racked up credits in Australian series like Neighbours and H20: Just Add Water. In Crazy Rich Asians, Hii plays Nick’s cousin Alistair Cheng, who’s committing social suicide by dating a gold-digging soap opera star named Kitty Pong (Fiona Xie) after literally buying his way into the film business. With Kitty around, it’s a wonder anyone worries about Rachel’s intentions, but crazy is as crazy does.
Nico Santos as Oliver T'sien
Santos, who can be seen on the small-screen as one of the oddball employees at Cloud 9 in NBC’s Superstore, plays Oliver T’sien, another cousin of Nick’s who knows the ins and outs of the 1 percent of the 1 percent of Asia and describes himself as the “rainbow sheep of the family.” A fashion designer, he’s the insider even the craziest of the rich depend on — and he helps Rachel navigate her first high-society function, much to her relief. Oliver, in other words, is good company.
Crazy Rich Asians hits theaters Aug. 17, 2018.