Movies

Constance Wu and Henry Golding on how Crazy Rich Asians changed their lives

The film is set to make megastars of its superb cast

Five years ago, Kevin Kwan's novel Crazy Rich Asians was a publishing sensation.

Now, the feel-good movie adaptation, which has generated positive buzz for its glamour, humour and all-Westernised Asian cast, looks set to match, if not surpass, the bestseller's success.

The premise? Chinese-American professor Rachel (Constance Wu) travels to Singapore with her long-term boyfriend, Nick (Henry Golding), to attend his best friend's wedding.

When she arrives, she learns his family is super-wealthy and that her beau is basically "the Prince William of Singapore".

The nuptials are a joyous, over-the-top affair.

Here, Constance, 36, and Henry, 31, tell TV WEEK what it means to be movie stars and why it's important that Crazy Rich Asians has made it to the big screen.

TV WEEK: How did you come to sign on to the film?

CONSTANCE: I've done [TV series] Fresh Off The Boat, but this is my first studio film. I met [director] Jon M Chu and they wanted to shoot the film while I was filming season four of my TV show, so the schedule conflicted. I actually wrote Jon an email, saying: "This means so much to me and if you can wait for me, I will put 110 per cent of my heart into this." I guess he liked the email, because I'm in it!

HENRY: I was so hesitant about auditioning and about being an actor, because I was a journalist and travel host for the BBC and Discovery Channel for a long time. But Jon sort of slapped some sense into me. He was like, "You are right for this role and you can pull this off – believe in yourself!"

Henry Golding as Nick.

What drew you to the story?

H: I think the source material is fantastic. It's that over-the-top story of riches in Singapore. It's fictional, but the message in the book and the film is about love and the challenges of being able to love the person you want to be with. It has all kinds of meanings for everyone.

How did you end up in acting?

C: I was born and raised in Virginia [in the US] and I'm the daughter of [Taiwanese] immigrants. My family was the only Asian family where we lived, but I found a sense of community in my local theatre. I loved to sing and dance. Then I went to drama school and regional theatre in New York – and then a boy broke my heart so bad that I was like, "I can't live in New York anymore." So I flew across the country [to LA] and I auditioned for Fresh Off The Boat. I love that I can be in a show that Asian-American kids – any kid – can watch with their family that's wholesome and fun and depicts a regular, working-class family. I love that. Then I auditioned for this movie, so it has been quite a journey, for sure.

Constance Wu as Rachel.

What was it like on set?

H: Because this was my first movie, I was like, "Is this what every movie is like?" I have a new family now! Most people said, "No, this is rare, this is something special." I think it was the fact we were Asians from all walks of life connecting and carving out a career in such an exclusive industry. We hung out after work, we went beyond wrap times to get the shot, and we would all eat together. We are still a big family.

How will this movie change your lives?

C: I think it's already making a difference. I feel it. I'm getting lots of offers for leading parts and it's great to have choice in the projects I want to do. I want little girls who are like me to see me and be proud of who they are.

H: I think the climate around Hollywood is that you don't have to have blond hair and blue eyes and be bursting with muscles to be in a movie anymore. I hope that, going forward, I get to play colourblind roles. It feels like there's a new generation of possibilities and wonderful stories to be told.

Crazy Rich Asians is in cinemas August 30th.