Following years of making a good impression in a variety of movies, both big and small, Gemma Chan got a leading role in a major movie of her own with her star performance in MCU's Eternals. While the latest Marvel epic wasn't met with the kindest reaction from critics or some audiences, the ever-busy movie star is currently in the highest-grossing movie in the world right now, and that's no small feat. If you're a fan of the hard-working actress and want to see her other notable films and shows, we're here to help. Here's what you should rent or stream if you like the Crazy Rich Asians star, including Captain Marvel, Let Them All Talk, and more.
Crazy Rich Asians (HBO Max)
For many folks, Crazy Rich Asians launched Gemma Chan into the mainstream. In the role of Astrid Leong-Teo, Nick's fashionable cousin, the actress got ample time to relish such a spectacular and sensational part, taking each liberty to play up the luxurious lifestyle of this privileged persona. Showing her wit and charm, this performance assured her career ascension. In some respects, it's her most memorable work. Certainly, given the fantastic critical and commercial success of this appealing studio rom-com, it helped Chan gain further esteem and clout.
Submarine (Tubi/PlutoTV/The Roku Channel)
A witty and warm coming-of-age fable that becomes a fine mix of charming and cynical, Richard Ayoade's Submarine is a winning and winsome directorial debut — one that appears to be excessively quirky in style, only to surprise you with its tender, bittersweet emotional honesty. A lot of credit goes to its accomplished ensemble, including seasoned veterans like Noah Taylor, Paddy Considine, and Sally Hawkins working alongside newcomers like Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige, and Gemma Chan, the latter solely in a limited role. As Kim-Lin, the freshman actress received one of her first screen credits, so you're forgiven if you don't remember her from it. That said, Submarine remains one of her best films. Even beyond this early supporting turn, this delightful movie is well worth watching.
Captain Marvel (Disney+)
When Gemma Chan was cast in the lead role of Marvel's Eternals, some Marvel fans were more than a little surprised, considering that the actress was already enveloped into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the role of Minn-Erva, a Kree tactical sniper, in 2019's Captain Marvel. While the latter superhero blockbuster was a major opportunity, it's fair to say that it wasn't a movie that highlighted Chan's talents and screen presence.
Strictly stuck in a supporting role, Minn-Erva wasn't a character that left a deep or long impression. Therefore, it made sense that director Chloe Zhao felt comfortable casting the actress in a separate but far meatier role in her own Marvel movie. Alas, while Chan wasn't given much to do in Captain Marvel, her involvement paved the way for her ascent, in the MCU and elsewhere, particularly as Eternals is easily her most high-profile part yet.
Humans (Amazon Prime/Hoopla)
Based on the award-winning Swedish drama Real Humans, Channel 4's Humans only continued to distinguish itself as a mature, thrilling, and thought-provoking sci-fi series, one that was elevated by Gemma Chan's star performance. Through its intelligent and investing sociopolitical commentary, this well-acclaimed series developed into a rich and relevant piece of work, which only grew stronger and meatier as time went on. Though it only lasted three seasons, Humans gained a warm and inviting fanbase, and it helped Chan become a critical favorite and an actress to watch. For some TV viewers, Humans is still Chan's best work to date.
Let Them All Talk (HBO Max)
As literary agent Karen, an emotionally-unnerved woman who finds herself in turmoil as she tries to get her most elusive client to reach something near her next novel's deadline, Gemma Chan gives, what I consider, her best performance yet in Steven Soderbergh's appropriately chatty dramedy, Let Them All Talk.
Even in the company of great talents like Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, and Dianne Wiest, Chan's tormented buttoned-down woman on the verge of her own mid-life crisis makes a great impression. She finds a fine balance between trying to maintain her inherent professionalism and hiding her true identity on this fancy cruise while also allowing herself to become — after some initial resistance — more open and even vulnerable with Lucas Hedges' Tyler, the kind-hearted nephew to Streep's caged Alice Hughes. In an effort to discover what Karen needs to know about what's surely the next literary sensation — one that's often fittingly left at sea by a wayward author who ironically can't find the words that she searches for — Chan plays up this well-to-do business-focused woman with dry humor and even a few unsuspecting moments of emotional susceptibility.
While this HBO Max title can be breezy and comfortable in its wavy presentation, the acclaimed actors on hand bring more than enough dramatic pull to keep us invested amidst the frivolous fun. Gemma Chan's compelling supporting turn, in particular, is among Let Them All Talk's best, richest, most rewarding surprises.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (PlutoTV/The Roku Channel)
Given the restraints of her CIA operative character, Gemma Chan doesn't get a whole lot of time to shine in Kenneth Branagh's amusingly pulpy adaptation, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Nevertheless, as she would demonstrate in several roles set to follow, the actress can make an impression even with such limitations in place. Her character is fairly by-the-books in style, but she has moments of wit and humor that make Amy Chang most distinguished than she was on the page. The results are not her most memorable role, but it's a good showcase for how Chan can make even minor characters like this one stand out in the star's favor.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (HBO Max)
As Madam Ya Zhou, a head witch in the International Confederation of Wizards, Gemma Chan started her blockbuster career in earnest with Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. While she didn't have a long residence in the Harry Potter-inspired spin-off series, the film actress still stands out, with her striking screen presence and her sharp fashion senses playing a key part in making an impressionable supporting character. As her career continues to expand, this role seems very quaint in comparison. But should come as a credit to her — she only continues to develop as a performer and find several new, exciting ventures.
Raya And The Last Dragon (Disney+)
Though she's better known for her live-action work, Gemma Chan was quick to impress with her voice-only performance as Namaari in Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon. As the main antagonist of the animated movie, the voice actress is given a great deal of freedom to ham it up in such a wicked role, but it's a credit to her capabilities that she builds someone more complex and nuanced to the part instead, relying more on building on the long history shared between her and this plucky title character and allowing us to get a better understanding of who she is and why she does what she does throughout the course of this film.
While this year's animated feature wasn't quite as captivating as other recent Disney features like Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, and Zootopia, Raya and the Last Dragon is made stronger through its exceptional voice cast, including Gemma Chan's notable turn, providing one of the most intriguing recent Disney villains.
The Double (HBO Max)
Easily among the best, most stylish, and most inspired films in Gemma Chan's filmography, The Double saw the actress reuniting with writer-director Richard Ayoade for a witty, whimsical adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky's experimental novella of the same name.
Centered around a government agent (Jesse Eisenberg) who finds his unenviable life in havoc when he's in the company of his new co-worker: his doppelgänger, only smarter, more charming, and ultimately more dangerously charismatic, this mysterious dramedy carries its quirky noir influences with stride, but for all its filmmaking flourishes, it's made fully realized by its terrific cast, which includes Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins, James Fox, and Yasmin Page in addition to Gemma Chan and Eisenberg's double-handler.
While Chan is, yet again, given only a small part, her involvement assures her strong working relationship with this promising actor-turned-director, and it allowed us to see another side of this performer in such a crafty, cunning film.
A nifty, high-stakes, low-budget chamber thriller made with craft and care, 2009's Exam is an intriguing morality tale that's elevated by its enclosed sense of chaos. Though it often values concept over characters, it's a credit to the game cast that the indie film proves to be so pulsating. That, of course, includes Gemma Chan.
Though we never get a full read on these intentionally mysterious characters, the newcomer actress, in her first film no less, brings a wealth of palpable suspense —allowing us to get into the ever-frantic minds of these isolated intellects. The results aren't sensational but they're impressive, to be sure, given the restraints of the narrative and movie's finances, but it also allowed Chan to give her first standout performance, and one of her most exceptional, right out of the gate.
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Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.
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