The surprising, subtle moment in 'Crazy Rich Asians' that drove unexpected tears

Kevin Polowy
Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment

Crazy Rich Asians has been widely celebrated since its August release — and though it failed to crack the Oscar ballot this week, it was a landmark film in a number of ways. Culturally, the movie proved there’s an audience hungry for films with all-Asian casts. Cinematically, it helped confirm that the romantic comedy is indeed back in business. With $174 million domestically (and $238 million worldwide), it was the highest-grossing rom-com in a decade. And generally, fans just went crazy over it — particularly Asian Americans, who have been so long underrepresented on the big screen.

Screenwriter Adele Lim, who adapted Kevin Kwan’s bestselling novel with Peter Chiarelli, recalled to Yahoo Entertainment one particularly touching exchange she had with a fan. An Asian American man reached out to her and told her that one relatively uneventful scene, when Rachel (Constance Wu) and Nick (Henry Golding) first arrive and Singapore and are riding with a pair of friends in an open-air Jeep, drove him to tears.

“He started to cry, because it was the first time he had seen four Asians just in a car just driving down a highway,” the Malaysian-born Lim recalled (watch above). “He was not expecting to have that moment. And it made him feel seen.”

Director Jon M. Chu shared a similar sentiment with us upon the film’s release — revealing that his “very tough, athletic” brother shed tears at the simple of site of Nick dashingly walking out of a house.

In astounding proof that Asian audiences have been long underserved by Hollywood, Crazy Rich Asians marked the first major studio release to feature an entire cast of Asian descent in 25 years, since the 1993 drama The Joy Luck Club.

The full ensemble gave Lim and team the freedom to flesh out a wide array of characters without worrying about the implications of “the token Asian” character.

“Usually in a movie [or] in a TV show there’s [one] Asian character, it just gets dissected to death. Are they the good person? Are they the bad person? Why are they depicted that way? Why are they the tech person? Why are they the jerk?” Lim explained. “Because if you’re the only Asian in a cast, you carry the weight of your entire race and your culture on your back. And in this one, because everyone’s Asian, we get to have jerks like Bernard, and Eddie, and we get to have people who are unfeeling, and we get to have really hunky amazing looking guys … It’s a celebration of all the different aspects of us.”

Crazy Rich Asians will be available on DVD and Blu-ray Jan. 27. You can buy it here. 

Watch director Jon M. Chu talk about the moment that made his brother cry:


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