Tuesday, April 11, 2017

'Crazy Rich Asians' movie adds Sonoya Mizuno to its cast

Sonoya Mizuno
A JAPANESE/ARGENTINIAN ballerina/actress has joined the Crazy Rich Asians cast that is shaping up to be one of the most attractive casts ever assembled.

Sonoya Mizuno, whose mother is Japanese and father is Argentinian, is the latest actor to join the ever-growing cast of the movie adaptation of the Crazy Rich Asians novel by Kevin Kwan. She will be playing the role of Araminta Lee, a beautiful actress and fiance of Colin Khoo, the best friend of Nick Young, the lead male character. It is their wedding that spurs Young's return to Singapore with his American-born girlfriend Rachel Chu. 

She grew up in Great Britain, which seems to fit the British accent requirement of the fictional characters of the novel. She is the third thespian with that background to be case in the movie, which will be filmed mostly in Singapore. Newcomer Henry Golding (Nick) and Gemma Chan (Astrid, Nick's cousin) have similar backgrounds.

Also in the cast of beautiful people thus far, is Constance Wu (Rachel) and Singaporean Michelle Yeoh -- both beautiful, by the way.

This is Mizuno's biggest role to date in her young career. Mizuno played the cyborg assistant, Kyoko, in Alex Garland's sci-fi thriller Ex Machina. She also appeared in La La Land as Caitlin, one of Emma Stone's choreographically inclined onscreen roommates. 

Watch Mizuno and her dancing skills in this scene from Ex Machina:

“I grew up in Somerset, in the middle of the English countryside, where most people, who were white, were born and raised in the area," Mizuno said in an interview with Resonate. "I am one of six siblings who all have the same parents and therefore same ethnicity. We were definitely an unusual family in the area but there was a sense of alliance among us.”

“I was the only mixed-race girl in my primary school class and I do remember being called names such as ‘Chinese take away’ and ‘chocolate brownie,’ as well as classmates imitating Japanese gestures and language. I was definitely an outsider. When I moved to London to study at the Royal Ballet School from age 11, that changed to some degree. The backgrounds were slightly more diverse, but still there were only three or four of us who were considered ‘ethnic’ in my class,” she said.

The cast includes, top left, clockwise: Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan and Henry Golding.
Director Jon M. Chu says Crazy Rich Asians will feature an all-Asian cast, a rarity in Hollywood-produced movies. The last Hollywood film was The Joy Luck Club in 1991. It will be interesting to see if an incredibly attractive cast in a movie based on a best-selling novel with an international fan base and characters that can make you laugh and cry, can cross-over to non-Asian audiences.

It might not even have to do the latter. Recent polls have found that the fast-growing Asian/American audience sees more  movies than any other ethnic group. And there's a huge audience in Asia waiting to see how Hollywood tackles this movie with its interesting characters.

I like what Chu and Warner Brothers have done with the film's pre-production efforts so far. The director is reportedly in Singapore right now scouting locations. Announcing a major cast member a week for the last month or so has been building up anticipation and interest among fans of the book. We should be hearing who will be playing Colin Khoo soon.

I don't want to put any pressure on Chu and the cast, but ... in the context of the current discussion about whitewashing, #OscarsSoWhite, yellow face and the stereotypes of Asian males and women in Hollywood, Crazy Rich Asians could be a turning point for Asian representation in the motion picture industry and open the door to more opportunities to tell our stories; or ... if it doesn't live up to its hype, it could be another 26 years before  Hollywood dares to make another movie with an Asian theme starring Asians. That's a lot to put on a single film but that's what's at stake and why I'm rooting for Chu and his cast.