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As 2019’s summer season reaches an end, we may remember it as a moment when moviegoers couldn’t get enough of live-action remakes and superhero genre epics. But when looking in restrospect to last summer’s movie offerings, Crazy Rich Asians was the standout movie of the season that turned some tides for Hollywood with its massive box office and critical success. It brought about a new wave for the romantic comedy genre and proved there’s an eager audience centered on Asian-American stories. Just look at how well the Crazy Rich Asians’ cast is doing, nabbing big-time roles after their breakout success!
Crazy Rich Asians had a stacked cast of Asian-American actors – the first major Hollywood film to do so since 1993's The Joy Luck Club. The comedy featured some well known talents such as Michelle Yeoh and Ken Jeong, but more notably introduced the world to quite a few newcomers who clearly have bright futures in the business looking at where they are just one year after Crazy Rich Asians, between their impressive co-stars and upcoming franchise roles. Check them out:
Constance Wu (Rachel Chu)
Fresh Off the Boat’s Constance Wu lead 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians as New York economics professor Rachel Chu, who journeys to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick Young for a wedding only to find out he belongs to an incredibly rich, celebrity-status family. Before starring in the summer success, Wu already had four seasons on the aforementioned ABC sitcom under her belt. The actress had been pursuing the business for over 10 years, and with Fresh Off the Boat being her only starring role at the time, Crazy Rich Asians allowed her to snag the spotlight in a movie.
One year after the August release of Crazy Rich Asians, Constance Wu is gearing up for a starring role in the upcoming crime dramedy Hustlers alongside Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Cardi B and Lizzo. The September release tells the true story of a crew of former strippers who decide to take advantage of their Wall Street clients. Wu holds the top-billing for Hustlers as a single mother named Destiny who creates the master plan with her fellow dancers.
The actress did have a very public outburst a few months ago when she took to social media to express her anguish over losing out on another opportunity following the renewal of Fresh Off the Boat. Slate has called the incident a unique win for representation Hollywood. Finally, an Asian-American “Diva” to call their own! ABC has assured fans there is no beef with the actress. She’s also scored roles in Sony Animation’s Wish Dragon and Low Budget Ethnic Movie.
Henry Golding (Nick Young)
When Henry Golding was cast in Crazy Rich Asians, he didn’t have a single acting credit. He’d been hosting BBC World News’ The Travel Show, which was just the source that got him invited to audition for the rom-com. When he debuted as Nick Young in the August flick, he became a Hollywood heartthrob overnight and has since gained massive fame (a transition he admits he’s wrestled with). In his breakout role, he plays Rachel’s boyfriend with a family part of the Singapore elite.
After also starring in A Simple Favor alongside Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick for his second movie, Golding has an impressive line-up to continue his acting career. This holiday season he’ll play leading man to Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke in another rom-com, titled Last Christmas. At the top of 2020, the Crazy Rich Asians actor will also be in Guy Ritchie’s The Gentleman. The action film also stars Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant and will follow a British drug lord selling off his empire to Oklahoma billionaires.
Henry Golding is also making moves into blockbuster franchises with his recent casting as the lead in G.I. Joe spinoff, Snake Eyes. He’ll play the fan-favorite ninja warrior in the Robert Schwentke (director of Red)-helmed flick. The actor has also recently been in public conversation about taking on the role of Namor in the MCU (maybe as the villain in Black Panther 2?) Who knows if it will happen, but the fact that Golding has made it as far as being fan-casted in a Marvel role within a year of his success is crazy!
Gemma Chan (Astrid Young Teo)
Of the Crazy Rich Asians’ breakout cast, 37-year-old Gemma Chan had the most lengthy career before joining in on the summer hit. Fans of AMC’s Humans series were familiar with her and she’d found supporting roles in Fantastic Beasts and Transformers. The Jon M. Chu-directed book adaptation was her largest movie role to date and has propelled her into Hollywood star status. Chan played Nick’s sister Astrid, who is dealing with her husband’s affair throughout the movie.
Since then, she played the blue-skinned Minn-Erva in March’s Captain Marvel. She may have a larger role in the MCU too, since she’s rumored to have involvement in the upcoming Phase Four film The Eternals. It’s unclear whether she’ll be reprising her Starforce role or playing a brand new character, but get it, girl! The actress has also just been cast in Steven Soderbergh’s latest project, titled Let them All Talk. She’ll be acting alongside none-other-than Meryl Streep for the under-wraps role. That cast also includes Lucas Hedges and Candice Bergen.
Chan will also be getting a promotion of sorts for the planned Crazy Rich Asian sequels. Astrid’s continuing story will reportedly play a larger role in the next film in development as her relationship with Harry Shum Jr’s Charlie Wu (shown in a cameo at the end) will be further explored, following the events of the books.
Awkwafina (Peik Lin Goh)
The true breakout of the Crazy Rich Asians cast is Awkwafina, of course. The 31-year-old has quickly become one of Hollywood’s trendiest talents since her scene-stealing role as Rachel’s hilarious best friend Peik Lin in the 2018 summer movie. Before that role lit up the big screen, she appeared earlier in 2018 in Ocean’s Eight and had gained popularity for her YouTube channel. Once she uttered the iconic words “bok, bok, bitch,” he life was never the same.
Awkwafina recently wowed critics for her performance in Lulu Wang’s drama The Farewell, which has a 99% Rotten Tomatoes score and could receive Oscars attention. She’s also done voice acting for The Angry Birds Movie 2, Netflix’s upcoming The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, 2020’s The SpongeBob Movie: It's a Wonderful Sponge and will reportedly play Scuttle in Disney’s live-action Little Mermaid.
Awkwafina also has a role in Jumanji: The Next Level coming this December, alongside The Rock, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Danny DeVito and Danny Glover. Then she is joining the MCU in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Oh, and she’ll also star with Meryl Streep in Netflix musical Prom! Plus, she's creating her own television show for Comedy Central called Awkwafina, based on her experiences living in Queens. She’s literally doing it all!
The Crazy Rich Asians cast members are becoming actual realizations of the movie title that propelled them into stardom with all the projects they have on the way!! Considering each of their careers have exponentially grown since the rom-com dazzled audiences, it's clear the movie left an impression on Hollywood and made way for more Asian lead roles in the mainstream.