On Nina Jacobson, Casting, and Crazy Rich Asians: A Q&A with Kevin Kwan

Kevin Kwan/Photo © Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte

Earlier this month, it was announced that production company Color Force -- the same studio that turned out "Hunger Games" -- acquired the movie rights to the novel Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, with Nina Jacobson producing. Kwan's debut novel tells the tale of three wealthy Chinese families and the chaos that takes over their lives when one of their most promising heirs brings home his American-born Chinese girlfriend for a wedding. It's a novel that touches on the humor of family dynamics, the shock of the culture divide between China and America, and the uniqueness of the lives of the wealthy and privileged.

Signature caught up with Kwan to talk to him about the news, his hopes for the movie, and, of course, his favorite film of all time.

SIGNATURE: Congratulations on the movie news! What was your immediate reaction to the news?

KEVIN KWAN: It was an absolute thrill to be able to announce Nina Jacobson as the producer. She has an amazing vision and a terrific team who really knows how to transform books into great films.

SIG: Would you care to share any thoughts on actors you may have imagined in the roles in Crazy Rich Asians before now? If specific actors don't come to mind, what do you think the most important characteristics are to keep in mind while casting?

KK: There's already so much speculation on who might be cast, and I've been inundated with emails and audition clips from actors since the news broke. The most important thing to keep in mind is the incredible diversity of talent that's out there -- there are so many great actors from all over Asia, from Singapore and Hong Kong to the Philippines and Mainland China, not to mention many great Asian-American actors who are eager for fun and challenging roles.

SIG: What do you think the biggest challenge for moviemakers will be when it comes to adapting your novel?

KK: Keeping the fans happy! Aside from that, I think an important challenge will be conveying the world of the book. The novel is such a multi-sensory experience -- from the foods to the incredible locations to the exquisite clothes worn by all the characters. This is what readers have loved, and as moviegoers they will need to feel like they are truly being transported to this world of exotic crazy opulence.

SIG: Name one song you'd love to see as part of the soundtrack.

KK: "This Must Be the Place" by Talking Heads. There's a scene in the book where a street musician sings it for our hero and heroine in New York's Washington Square Park. Wouldn't it be great to get someone like Jason Mraz to do a cameo and play that song in the movie?

SIG: What's your favorite movie of all time?

KK: "A Room with A View." It's a film I have to watch at least a couple of times a year.

Get started on Crazy Rich Asians with an excerpt.