Eddie Huang likens his basketball film Boogie to Good Will Hunting
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Eddie Huang didn't know he wanted to be a filmmaker until he saw Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's film Good Will Hunting. "That movie was the moment where I said, I would like to make a film that changes another kid's life," he tells EW. "The way that they were able to humanize domestic violence and those relationships, it opened my eyes because I didn't know you could talk about stuff like that in movies."
Now, with his directorial debut Boogie, the 39-year-old chef, TV host, and memoirist explores those same topics through the eyes of Alfred 'Boogie' Chin, a Chinese-Taiwanese American high school basketball star fighting for a path to the NBA amidst turmoil at home in Queens, New York.
"This has been the same story I've [long] been trying to tell whether it was like selling sandwiches or writing Fresh Off the Boat," explains Huang. He adds that while he's become a better writer, the world has also come around to his provocative voice, so the rough edges from stories of his childhood, that got polished off for ABC primetime (famously to his dismay), get to finally be presented by breakout star Taylor Takahashi (his former assistant), alongside actors Taylour Paige, Jorge Lindenborg Jr., Pamelyn Chee, Perry Yung, Mike Moh, and the late rapper Pop Smoke.
While visually, he says "we wanted to make a Taiwanese new wave film in New York" à la Edward Yang or Wong Kar-Wai, Huang's pitch to producers about getting the basketball scenes right was "Kung fu films are good. No one walks out of a kung fu film like, 'That was bad fighting.' So we'll make the basketball like kung fu. It's about the moves."
Though the culture he grew up in plays a big part in the script he wrote, Huang concludes that "I've been very careful with everyone to not present it as an Asian American film. I am Asian American, that is what I represent. That's what I come from. But I'm very much into the intersection of all our experiences. And to me, this is an intersectional immigrant story. This is for all immigrants in America."
Boogie will be out in theaters on March 5. Watch the first trailer for the film above.
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