Why Constance Wu Nearly Said No to 'Crazy Rich Asians'

Constance Wu was the star of the summer. The 'Crazy Rich Asians' lead made us fall in love with her as the forthright, girl-next-door Rachel, and the role rocketed her to super-stardom. But she almost didn't take the role.

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Constance Wu was the star of the summer. The Crazy Rich Asians lead  (opens in new tab)made us fall in love with her as the forthright, girl-next-door Rachel, and the role rocketed her to super-stardom. But apparently she almost didn’t take the role because of scheduling conflicts.

Wu was on a panel at Vulture Festival when she shared the news, as reported by Us Weekly. As the female lead of TV show Fresh Off the Boat, Wu’s rigorous shooting schedule made her tell director Jon M. Chu she was passing on the opportunity. “I actually let the part go, because I met with him and I was like, ‘I really want to do this, but I can’t, because I’m under contract with my show and we shoot in the fall.’”

Luckily, common sense prevailed, and she had an epiphany moment as she was sitting on a plane. “So I wrote this email on the plane to [Chu],” she said. “[I was like,] ‘Listen, I know the schedules don’t work out, whoever you end up putting in the movie ... I want to support you, but I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you what this means to me and why.”

And it’s good for everyone that she did. Wu talked about the significance of the film and how much it meant to her to be a part of such a historic creative endeavor. “There’s a lot of pressure because this is the only all-Asian cast from a major American studio in a contemporary context, like, ever,” she explained.

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Wu has already been outspoken about promoting true diversity in Hollywood, not just tokenism. “Worrying about Hollywood’s readiness just reinforces its power. Create good work according to your own standards, not theirs. Maybe people will catch up, maybe they won’t—who cares? No great art was ever created out of trying to get some institution’s approval.”

Crazy Rich Asians is based on the book series by Kevin Kwan. The film was so popular, grossing $173 million in the U.S. alone, that a sequel has already been greenlit. Chances are we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more from Wu.

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Katherine J. Igoe
Katherine J. Igoe

Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.