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 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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'Crazy Rich Asians' Philadelphia Screening

(Image credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo)

Warner Bros. Pictures' "Crazy Rich Asians" Premiere - Arrivals

(Image credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez)
Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.