Crazy in love with S'pore: Film works its magic

Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh says the fact that Crazy Rich Asians has done so well in the US has been the "greatest relief".
Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh says the fact that Crazy Rich Asians has done so well in the US has been the "greatest relief".ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Actress Michelle Yeoh notes effect of Crazy Rich Asians on foreigners

Some of Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh's foreign friends were so blown away by the sights of Singapore in the film Crazy Rich Asians that they thought the locales were not real.

Referring to Marina Bay Sands, the 56-year-old star said: "Someone said, 'Oh, wasn't that hotel a CG (computer-generated) hotel?'

"We laugh because we know and we've been there and we can see it in your skyline, but for people who have not been there, they would go, 'Oh, who would build a hotel like this? It looks so science fiction'."

She said many of her friends have since been asking her about visiting Singapore and Malaysia, where the romantic comedy was shot.

"It's good for this part of the world, that they want to be here, and want to enjoy our diversity, and our food... And you should be so proud - I mean, look at how beautiful Singapore looks."

The actress, who plays stern and protective mother Eleanor Young in the film, was speaking to The Sunday Times about the film.

GREAT BOOSTER

It's good for this part of the world, that they want to be here, and want to enjoy our diversity, and our food... And you should be so proud - I mean, look at how beautiful Singapore looks.

MICHELLE YEOH

In the month since it opened in the US, the movie has topped the box office charts three weeks in a row, and made more than US$140 million (S$192 million) so far.

The fact that the film has done so well in the US came as the "greatest relief" for Yeoh, she said, as "no one wanted the movie to fail".

"If there was no (strong) opening, the house of cards would have crumbled. It would have been a very sad day for all of us. Producers would say, 'Well, no one wants to see an all-Asian movie'."

It is the first major Hollywood movie since 1993's The Joy Luck Club to feature a predominantly Asian cast. Even though the film has generated plenty of publicity due to its significance, box office figures still matter to Hollywood executives if they want to fund more such films in the future.

"This gives us more opportunities to have more Asian storytellers tell their stories - the Adele Lims and the Jon Chus," said Yeoh.

Malaysia's Adele Lim was one of the film's screenwriters, and Asian-American Jon M. Chu directed it.

Yeoh added: "The film is uplifting and empowering for Asians. Young Asians are coming to me and saying, 'These people in the movie look like me'. And when you see someone who looks like you, you think, 'Well, I can do it if she can'. One movie cannot be representational of everything, but at least it will open the door (for more)."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 16, 2018, with the headline 'Crazy in love with S'pore: Film works its magic'. Print Edition | Subscribe