Jon M. Chu, who directed Crazy Rich Asians, is apologizing for how the 2018 hit romantic comedy portrayed South Asian characters.
Speaking recently with Insider, the director addressed the controversy over casting South Asian actor in stereotypical roles, such as domestic workers. Crazy Rich Asians was set in Singapore, a country where South Asians make up the third-largest demographic, according to population data.
One scene in particular that generated flack happened early in the movie. Constance Wu and Awkwafina's characters pulled up to a mansion and were surrounded by armed guards that were all seemingly of South Asian descent. Chu agrees he should have made those characters "more human."
"Looking back, I should have had a joke there [for the guards] being like, 'These idiots,'" Chu said. "There's stuff to do to make them more human instead of just, like, these guards."'
The director said South Asian characters were also featured in an extravagant party scene, but agreed, "They're just sort of there... I don't give them the space to be there."
Chu, 41, explained that he felt he couldn't deviate from the film's source material, the novel of the same name written by Kevin Kwan in 2013, which features an all-Chinese main cast.
"That's a lesson that I did not understand until it happened," Chu admitted. "I was like, this is a book that exists, and I'm making this book into a movie. I can't add a new character into this."
"So hearing it from people, for me, it was a learning experience," he said and promised to "pay more attention" with his future projects so that he "won't make that mistake again."
Crazy Rich Asians earned $238.5 million during its box office run.