"They wanted to change the heroine into a white girl."
Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan has revealed that Hollywood initially wanted to whitewash the lead female character in the film adaptation.
Splinter News reveals that Crazy Rich Asians all-Asian cast was not Hollywood’s first choice. The role of Rachel, which is now being played by Fresh Off The Boat star Constance Wu, could have been played by a white actress.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Kwan said a producer approached him to reimagine his female protagonist.
“That was their strategy,” Kwan says. “They wanted to change the heroine into a white girl. I was like, ‘Well, you’ve missed the point completely.’ I said, ‘No, thank you.'”
Kwan’s original novel follows Rachel Chu (Wu), an American-born Chinese economics professor who travels to Singapore for her boyfriend’s best friend’s wedding, where she faces pressures from her new Asian peers.
Considering the premise of the Kwan’s story, whitewashing Rachel would have been absurd.
The author added that even non-Asian fans are against the idea of whitewashing Rachel. At a book club in Texas comprised of white women, Kwan learned that his audience were strongly against the idea.
“You should’ve heard them scream,” he said. “They were like, ‘Nooo!’ I remember one woman saying, ‘What makes these people think that all we want to do is see the same white actors or actresses on screen?’ To hear that reaction really confirmed for me what the audience wanted.”