Actress Constance Wu for Crazy Rich Asians?

Constance Wu, who stars in Fresh Off The Boat, is reportedly almost certain to play lead character Rachel Chu.
Constance Wu, who stars in Fresh Off The Boat, is reportedly almost certain to play lead character Rachel Chu. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The Fresh Off The Boat star may lead the cast in film adaptation of best-selling novel

Fresh Off The Boat star Constance Wu is in talks to lead the film adaptation of Kevin Kwan's best-selling novel Crazy Rich Asians, which looks at the lives of the extremely rich in Singapore.

It is reportedly almost certain that she will be playing the role of Rachel Chu, a Chinese-American economics professor who spends a summer with her boyfriend Nicholas at his Singapore home, not knowing that he hails from one of the wealthiest families in the Lion City.

While no other announcements have been made yet on who will play the other colourful characters in the highly anticipated movie, there has been much buzz online surrounding the project since it put out an open casting call worldwide last year.

Wannabe actors from all around the world, including Singapore, have been flooding social media with their audition videos, hoping to snag a spot in the film.

Directed by American film-maker Jon M. Chu and produced by Color Force, which was also behind the Hunger Games movies, the upcoming romantic comedy will join the ranks of The Joy Luck Club (1993) as the rare Hollywood-backed film with a mostly Asian cast.

The Straits Times looks at the main qualities required of the central roles in the film, and sifts through the audition videos to spot some hidden talents.

NICHOLAS "NICK" YOUNG

Who: A history professor at New York University and boyfriend of economics professor Rachel Chu. Smart and down-to-earth, Nick is described as handsome and charming, but in a non-threatening way.

What we hope to see: Whoever plays Nick has to be good-looking, but should not be uber-chiselled or model-like. When he speaks, he should have a posh British accent.

Singaporean singer-actor Nat Ho, who posted an audition video on YouTube (bit.ly/2kYnCH0), has the looks, but would have to work on the accent and his enunciation.

As this is a Hollywood flick, producers may lean towards picking a pan-Asian star for wider appeal. In that case, American Kai Braden (bit.ly/2kYpvUj) could be a good fit. He is handsome and appears friendly and approachable.

ELEANOR YOUNG

Who: Nick's manipulative mother who disapproves of Rachel and tries to break the couple up.

What we hope to see: Eleanor has to look like a chic "tai tai", but also be stern. As she goes into controlling mother mode, she has to be believably mean and snooty.

While there are no audition videos for Eleanor on YouTube or Instagram, top actresses such as Michelle Yeoh or Ming-Na Wen, whom Hollywood is familiar with, could easily take on the role - they can go from classy to crazy.

ASTRID LEONG

Who: Nick's socialite cousin and Singapore's "It" girl who is beautiful and elegant.

What we hope to see: A gorgeous girl with the X factor, who always looks like a million bucks whether she is wearing Gucci or Zara.

Audition videos online failed to turn up any glamorous hopeful, as most girls were reading for the more modest Rachel. Singapore's Crystal Li (bit.ly/2ld7T5i) is pretty and has the potential, but would have to be more sassy.

Perhaps, someone like British actress Gemma Chan or Taiwan's Sonia Sui would be best for the role. They are both stunning and stylish.

EDISON "EDDIE" CHENG

Who: Eddie is Nick's cousin, a vain banker who hails from a very rich but humble family. He is ashamed of this and always tries to show off his wealth and connections.

What we hope to see: Someone who can carry off Eddie's cocky but insecure demeanour.

Asian-American actor and blogger Dior Choi (bit.ly/2kYy5lT) posted an audition video on YouTube reading for Nick, but he has the slickness required to play Eddie. Put on sunglasses and a sharp suit and he is all set.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2017, with the headline 'Actress Constance Wu for Crazy Rich Asians?'. Print Edition | Subscribe