Who & What You Need to Know Before Seeing Crazy Rich Asians

Aug 13, 2018 at 10:01 a.m. ET
Still of Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding and Constance Wu in 'Crazy Rich Asians'
Image: Warner Bros.

We may not know how Crazy Rich Asians will do at the box office when it premieres on Wednesday, but that's not really the most important metric of how successful it will be. Instead, we should look at the film's cast and the ways in which it will be making history. Both the cast and the history the film carries on its back are indicators that Crazy Rich Asians is, against all odds, already successful.

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The cast is unlike any that has been assembled in recent years: a group of Asian and Asian American actors who hail from several countries and have varying degrees of experience. They are directed by Jon M. Chu, who is primarily known for directing two Step Up sequels and a Justin Bieber documentary, and they are making a film based on the first of three novels in a series written by Kevin Kwan, whose first-ever novel was Crazy Rich Asians. To add to all of this excitement, Crazy Rich Asians is the first film since The Joy Luck Club (which was released in 1993) to feature a predominantly Asian cast and be released by a major studio.

So, let's take a look at the plot of the film (no spoilers, we promise!) and get to know some of the cast. 

More: Movies We're Most Excited For in August

About Crazy Rich Asians

The film centers on Rachel Chu and her boyfriend, Nick Young. As the trailer makes clear, Nick comes from an extremely wealthy and influential family, but that hasn't come up in their relationship until Nick is invited back home to attend the wedding of his best friend, Colin Khoo. Nick sees it as the perfect opportunity to introduce Rachel to the rest of his family. Rachel, on the other hand, is slightly overwhelmed by not only the level of wealth and privilege Nick's family has but also the fact that Nick is one of the most sought-after bachelors in Singapore. 

Image: Warner Bros.

As Rachel navigates the tricky class politics and adjustment to extreme wealth that comes with Nick's family, she finds herself really reassessing whether this is right for her. There's going to be major conflict between Rachel and Nick's mother, austere matriarch Eleanor Young, and there's going to be lots of eyes on Rachel from the judgmental young women who inhabit the same glamorous circles as the Young family. Rachel's got quite an adventure ahead of her, and Crazy Rich Asians promises to be anything but smooth and comfortable.

Image: Warner Bros.

Constance Wu

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As protagonist Rachel Chu, actor Constance Wu is our portal into the lavish and exciting world of Crazy Rich Asians. Wu can also be seen on the TV show that served as her big break, ABC's Fresh Off the Boat, where she plays the very funny Jessica Huang. Some of Wu's previous notable appearances include a voice role in The Lego Ninjago Movie and Royal Pains, but she was primarily a theater actor before successfully transitioning to TV with Fresh Off the Boat.

Henry Golding

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Crazy Rich Asians will be handsome British-Malaysian actor Henry Golding's first major studio film. Golding was cast after an extensive search to find the perfect actor to play Nick Young. He was primarily a television personality before being cast in the film, serving as the host of BBC's The Travel Show. Also, one look at his Instagram reveals that he's no stranger to modeling, either. But with Crazy Rich Asians set to be his big debut, he'll also be starring alongside Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick in A Simple Favor and the upcoming Monsoon.

Michelle Yeoh

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The ever-elegant Michelle Yeoh, set to play Nick Young's mother, Eleanor Young, has built an incredible career both in the United States and abroad, primarily in Asia. Yeoh most recently appeared in the CBS All Access show Star Trek: Discovery, but audiences may be most familiar with her role in the much-lauded Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Memoirs of a GeishaThe Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor or Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2.  

Ken Jeong

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Ken Jeong is set to play Goh Wye Mun, father of Goh Peik Lin, Rachel's best friend. Jeong, a former doctor who later turned to comedy, should be instantly recognizable to folks everywhere as he's been in the mainstream consciousness for the better part of a decade. After his long-running role on the hit comedy series Community, Jeong became internationally recognizable as Mr. Chow in the Hangover movies.

Awkwafina

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2018 has been a big year for Queens-born rapper and comedian Awkwafina, set to play Goh Peik Lin. While Awkwafina has made a name for herself with her brash, cheeky, feminist rap anthems (like the very fun "Pockiez"), she's been slowly transitioning into acting. Earlier in the summer of 2018, she appeared in the all-female Ocean's 8; before that, she was in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising and the sci-fi comedy Future Man on Hulu.

Gemma Chan

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Gemma Chan, who will be playing Astrid Leong, is a British-born former model who has successfully transitioned into film and television acting. Her biggest roles to date (aside from Crazy Rich Asians) were on the UK television show Humans and in Transformers: The Last Knight. It looks like Chan is truly about to break big, as she is also set to appear in the eagerly anticipated Mary Queen of Scots, alongside Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, and Captain Marvel, which stars Brie Larson. 

Nico Santos

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Nico Santos is set to play Oliver T'sien, Nick's cousin, who works at Christie's in London and is known to stir the pot when it comes to family drama. Santos has been slowly gaining more and more visibility in recent years, with his big breakout role as Mateo Liwang on NBC's Superstore. His comedic timing is impeccable, and he has a knack for making an average character seem larger than life. 

More: When Your Favorite TV Shows Are Returning to TV

Are you totally hyped for Crazy Rich Asians? We are, and Wednesday can't come soon enough.

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