When the cast of “Crazy Rich Asians” was announced earlier this year, many fans couldn’t help but swoon over the hot male lead, Henry Golding.
And we can’t blame them! Here’s what the 30-year-old actor looks like:
But according to a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, not everyone was happy with Golding being cast as Nick Young, the wealthy, Singaporean boyfriend of protagonist Rachel Chu (Constance Wu).
Because Golding has a mixed background — his father is British and his mother is Malaysian — many criticized Hollywood for not choosing an all-Asian actor for the role.
Golding said he was personally hurt by the backlash and told EW, “For me, it was almost like being kind of stabbed in the back. I was like, ‘Aren’t we meant to be in this boat together? Aren’t we meant to strive together for something bigger than these boundaries that we’re putting on ourselves instead of bullying each other?'”
“People were like, ‘This guy’s half-Asian, he’s half-white, he’s not even full Asian,’ and it comes to, like, how Asian do you have to be to be considered Asian?” he said.
Although Golding doesn’t need to defend his casting (after all, the film did come through on its promise to have an all-Asian cast), he went on to note that not only was he born in Asia (specifically, Sarawak, Malaysia), he’s also spent nearly 17 years of his life there.
“I’ve lived cultures that are synonymous with Asian culture, but it’s still not Asian enough for some people,” he continued. “Where are the boundaries? Where are the lines drawn for saying that you cannot play this character because you’re not fully Asian?”
This isn’t the first time people have been upset about Hollywood casting the “wrong” Asian actor for a role. For instance, Mass Appeal noted that some people were upset that Katie Chang, who is one-quarter Korean, was cast as a full-Asian character in “The Bling Ring” in 2013. And back in 2005, Hollywood received backlash for casting Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang in the role of Sayuri, a Japanese character in the film “Memoirs of a Geisha.”
“Nobody’s ever happy,” Golding concluded in his interview. “There’s no ideal situation… It’s really about being open to not making criticisms when it comes to Asians on Asians.”
Considering there have been few all-Asian Hollywood films since 1993’s “The Joy Luck Club,” audiences should appreciate the effort the industry is making to move forward and be better when it comes to representation, and not attack an Asian actor for finally landing a lead role.
Luckily, “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu does not regret the film’s casting choices. “I think we now have the deepest database of Asian actors that speak English in the world,” he told EW. “It was worth it. The best thing we ever did on this movie was cast this cast.”
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Author: Isabelle Khoo