“Crazy Rich Asians” Author Kevin Kwan Optioned His Book for $1 to Ensure Hollywood Wouldn’t Whitewash the Adaptation
In the delightful new rom-com Crazy Rich Asians — which consists of a principal cast entirely of Asian descent, a major feat in Hollywood — a college professor (Constance Wu) travels to her boyfriend’s old stomping grounds in Singapore to attend the most opulent wedding of her life. (And to survive the wrath of the women vying for her boyfriend’s attention. And her boyfriend’s intense mother.)
The film, an adaptation of the 2013 novel written by Kevin Kwan, is a major win for the Asian acting community, but in a new Hollywood Reporter feature, some behind-the-scenes drama nearly prevented it from being a faithful big-screen experience.
As Kevin recalled to the publication, he rejected numerous “lucrative” offers and instead optioned his film for a mere $1, forgoing a large paycheck to ensure he maintained involvement with creative and development decisions. This was, Kevin said, after one disastrous pitch strongly recommended he change the Asian heroine to a white woman, since nobody would be interested in seeing the film otherwise. (“It’s a pity you don’t have a white character,” he was told by the producer.)