Fiona Xie: Crazy Rich Asians protected my modesty despite sexy dresses

Fiona Xie as Kitty Pong, dancing with Bernard Tai (Jimmy O. Yang) in Crazy Rich Asians.
Fiona Xie as Kitty Pong, dancing with Bernard Tai (Jimmy O. Yang) in Crazy Rich Asians. PHOTO: WARNER BROS

Fiona Xie on gold-digger role in Crazy Rich Asians

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Low-cut, flashy and over-the-top.

Fiona Xie's on-screen wardrobe in Crazy Rich Asians is far from subtle - just like her shameless, gold-digging soap opera starlet character Kitty Pong.

Walking the teal carpet at last week's Singapore premiere of the Hollywood romcom in a sleek black Nicole + Felicia Couture feathered jumpsuit and $2.2 million worth of Bvlgari bling, the 36-year-old local actress said of her sexy mini-dresses: "It was in the book, so we definitely cannot disappoint the fans, but it was very nice of (director) Jon M. Chu and the team to protect my modesty."

What is shown on screen is toned down from the nipple-exposing sheer dress Kitty wears during her grand entrance in Kevin Kwan's 2013 novel that the movie is based on.

Xie added: "(The wardrobe) was nice, we did it with humour and class."

In real life, she wasn't afraid to take the plunge - sartorially speaking - at the Los Angeles red carpet premiere earlier this month, where she wore a custom black organza gown by homegrown fashion brand Jessicacindy.

Before leaving her hotel room, she was quoted in US digital publication Coveteur as saying: "Maybe we could lower the neckline?"


Fiona Xie at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' Crazy Rich Asians in California, on Aug 7. PHOTO: AFP  

According to the article, she then grabbed a pair of scissors and cut off the top of her dress.

Xie, who took a seven-year break from acting, had initially turned down the role for fear of attracting controversy.

Kitty is portrayed in Kwan's books as a social-climbing, money-grubbing sexpot who is dating Nicholas Young's (Henry Golding) cousin Alistair (Remy Hii) but later dumps him for the richer Bernard Tai (Jimmy O. Yang).

She said in the Coveteur interview: "Kitty is really fun and bubbly, but she's also outrageous. People in Asia are more proper, so it was a risk."

On their similarities and differences, Xie told TNP: "I think I'm always the life of the party but I'm definitely not her. I'm Kitty without the loose morals."

Her character takes a more significant role and even has a major plotline in the book's sequel China Rich Girlfriend.

Now showing here, Crazy Rich Asians has been No. 1 at the North American box office for the second weekend running, generating another US$25 million (S$34 million), for a two-week domestic total of US$76.8 million.

It has also grossed $2.5 million at the local box office since it opened on Aug 21.

 
 

Beyond the numbers, Xie said the film has also reignited her passion for acting, especially after "braving the highs and the lows of the industry" since she started working at 15 years old.

She said in an emotional post on her Instagram page last week: "Never did I imagine myself coming back to acting. Being worn down by doing show after show and never finding that true joy with a project that matters, with a team that cares.

"I've almost forgotten what it means to be an actor, a simple responsibility of bringing audiences joy.

"I almost gave up on believing in myself, being part of a grind that never stopped to uplift actors.

"Thank you (Jon M. Chu) for watering this wilted flower, for having such faith, may I grow more and blossom under your amazing leadership and make these dreams that you stir in all of us a crazy reality."