How 'Crazy Rich Asians' paved the way for the diverse couples in 'Last Christmas'

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Last Christmas, Henry Golding was still celebrating the success of the blockbuster rom-com, Crazy Rich Asians. This year, he’s giving the world some tears (and laughter) with Last Christmas, a new London-set romance directed by Paul Feig, written by Emma Thompson and co-starring Emilia Clarke. Early on in the film, Golding’s dashing Tom Webster has a meet cute moment with Clarke’s tightly-wound Kate, which leads to a friendship that seems poised to blossom into love.

Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment, the Malaysian-born Golding directly credits Crazy Rich Asians with securing him a role that, only a few years ago, probably would have gone to an actor like Domhnall Gleeson or Dan Stevens. “I think that movie has definitely changed the casting of movies,” he says. “Not only the casting, but the creation of the characters. They’re so much more three-dimensional; having somebody whose not of the ordinary ethnicity cast as the lead, you have so much of a richer backstory in a sense.” (Watch our video interview above.)

Besides the leading man and leading lady, all of the couples seen in Last Christmas are mixed-race — something that the movie treats matter-of-factly. Feig says that’s as much a reflection of modern life as it is the result of a hit movie like Crazy Rich Asians. “I think movies need to reflect the world around us, and that’s the world around us,” the director remarks. “Everybody is mixing and matching, and we live in this beautiful melting pot. I think a movie that doesn’t portray the world that way is false.” Adds Golding: “It’s reality now. Putting it onscreen, you notice it more, but in reality it’s common.”

Golding isn’t the only Crazy Rich Asians veteran featured in the Last Christmas ensemble; Feig also cast his on-screen mother, Michelle Yeoh, as the owner of the Xmas-themed shop where Kate works. “We have an Asian male lead in a rom-com,” the actress says when asked about what she’s seen change as a result of Crazy Rich Asians’s success. “Crazy Rich Asians was a little miracle: It was a really great movie, and a truly wonderful romantic comedy. Since then, you’ve seen a lot more of Awkwafina, and Gemma [Chan] and Chris [Pang]. They are everywhere, and they should have been everywhere a much longer time ago!”

Even as the Crazy Rich Asians cast enjoys the opportunities afforded by its success, fans are looking forward to seeing them reunited in the sequel. Golding says that they’re going to have to wait a little longer. “I know they’re scurrying away trying to get the scripts together. They’ve got two amazing books to base it on, but the tough thing is coming up with something that’s going to go against the first. How do you come back with something better or bigger?” Here’s a hint: Crank up the George Michael.

Last Christmas opens in theaters on Nov. 8.

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