Gemma Chan and Harry Shum Jr. to star in Crazy Rich Asians spinoff

Harry Shum, Jr. and Gemma Chan
The Crazy Rich Asians movie, based on the book series of the same name, was a box office hit in 2018, grossing $238.5 worldwide. It was the first Hollywood movie with an all Asian ensemble cast since The Joy Luck Club came out in 1993. There are three books in the series, and the sequels were immediately green-lit based on the success of the first movie. They planned to shoot the two sequels back-to-back, but in 2019 things got held up when writers walked over a pay dispute. It seems like things are finally back on track after two and a half years, since they just hired a new writer. So we’ll get those sequels eventually, but now a spinoff movie focused on Gemma Chan’s character is coming too?

The Crazy Rich Asians universe is expanding.

A spinoff of the 2018 romantic comedy is in early development at Warner Bros. and will focus on a new love story between Nick’s cousin Astrid Leong-Teo (Gemma Chan) and Charlie Wu (Harry Shum Jr.), according to Deadline.

A rep for Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Based on Kevin Kwan’s second book in the series, China Rich Girlfriend, the film will follow the romance between Astrid and her first love Charlie, to whom she was previously engaged until her parents broke them up as they didn’t see him as a suitable partner.

The studio reportedly jumped on the project after a pitch from writer Jason Kim (Girls, Barry), who will pen the spinoff.

Although he was intended for a larger role in the movie, Shum Jr., 40, appeared in a mid-credits scene of Crazy Rich Asians, his character reuniting with Astrid at Rachel (Constance Wu) and Nick’s (Henry Golding) engagement party.

Astrid left her husband Michael (Pierre Png) earlier in the movie after finding out he was having an affair. In the book, Charlie helped her investigate Michael’s infidelity, and although they filmed more with Shum Jr. than what made it into the movie, Director Jon M. Chu previously explained to Entertainment Weekly why they had to cut their storyline down.

“What we put in the movie was great — they actually dance together — and it was so awesome, and Harry’s so charming and so lovable,” Chu, 42, said in 2018. “But the problem was, it made Astrid feel like she was leaving Michael for Charlie, and we didn’t have enough room to expand on the idea. We just had to stay focused. Ultimately it’s about her independence, so that scene was in there all the way until the very end. When we took it out, Astrid’s journey became stronger. It was about her, not about her finding love.”

[From People]

I read the book series years ago and although Rachel (Constance Wu’s character) is definitely the “everywoman” and reader’s entry point into the crazy rich world, Astrid is definitely a main character too. There are a lot of chapters throughout the series focused on her, her marriage, and her renewed romance with Charlie. But I can see why they think that might be too much story for a ~90 minute movie where they have to focus on Rachel and Nick as well. Astrid is an interesting character and Gemma Chan has a compelling presence. She’s mysterious and collected in a way that’s perfect for Astrid and makes you want to know more. Gemma is also a pretty big deal right now coming off the The Eternals and its eventual sequel, so it makes sense that they would want to center a spinoff around her.

I’m actually a bit more excited for this than for the sequels. I preferred Astrid’s storyline in the books and I think I prefer Gemma Chan’s acting to Constance Wu’s. Even before she was revealed to be a bit of a jerk, I found Constance Wu’s whole vibe a bit grating. I like the Rachel character and Constance was well cast in some ways, but every time she spoke in the movie, her voice took me out of it. China Rich Girlfriend has been in development hell for so long, I wonder if that or the spinoff will come out first.

Photos credit: Avalon.red and via Instagram

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30 Responses to “Gemma Chan and Harry Shum Jr. to star in Crazy Rich Asians spinoff”

  1. sunny says:

    This is so exciting! Loved Astrid and Charlie in the books and I think this has so much potential. Plus I really like Gemma Chan’s screen presence. I am much more excited for this then the other book sequels.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      I didn’t read the books so I have no idea about where the story line goes. Though I did enjoy Constance Wu, as well as Gemma Chan. I will be happy to see the story line continue though as I thoroughly enjoyed CRA. As for Awkwafina, I hope she is in it as I find her delightful and funny as hell too!!

      As for the rumors about CW, I didn’t realize there were any.

    • Emma says:

      Yes — cannot wait! It’s been so long!

    • Jan90067 says:

      Astrid and Charlie ARE Book 2 and 3, aren’t they?? I don’t know why this is being called a “spin off”.

      I mean, they can’t *really* do all of Rachel’s journey w/out cancelling out the end of the movie (re: Eleanor).

      • Ally says:

        Ya the spin-off term is weird? The books also focus more on the other cousins which is fun! Either way, I’m so glad the wait is over!

  2. FF says:

    I get the impression people would prefer working with Gemma over Constance, tbh.

    CW did herself no favours griping about Fresh Off The Boat getting renewed and being the lead in Hustlers. At least Gemma is likely to smile and stay diplomatic.

  3. Wilma says:

    Gemma Chan is so incredibly beautiful. I could watch her for hours.

  4. Gold ladder says:

    To be honest, I don’t think the Rachel storyline would fit in movie verse – the revelation about her bio dad kills the character growth Eleanor had in the movie.

    The best part about the second book was always Astrid and Kitty Pong.

    • Lux says:

      I actually bet they had a lot of trouble getting the Rachel sequels off the ground because they paint an incredibly unflattering portrait of China and the newly rich Chinese. With tons of studios and actors deferring to China due to their huge market (ugh), I can see them having a really hard time. THAT is what I always believed the roadblock was, not Constance being too difficult or COVID, because many movies have been made since CRA came out.

      • Emma says:

        The nouveau riche billionaire class is definitely satirized, but I don’t think the author denigrated the entire country of China??? Rachel’s dad comes off as a pretty good guy too (it’s her stepmother who’s cold to her at first). I’d agree the plutocrats would probably not find the book flattering of course though.

      • Lux says:

        @Emma, yes it is a more nuanced portrayal than general denigration of a whole country, but China wouldn’t see it that way. Kevin Kwan made it clear that there was a purposeful juxtaposition between the old money Singaporean Chinese and the nouveau riche mainland Chinese, and how mind-numbingly rich and powerful the latter was. Exploring the nuances of crazy rich Asians is the point, but I think any hint of negativity/satire will not go well with the CCP. The first movie was neither celebrated nor embraced in China; they simply saw it as none of their business/western Hollywood fare. Any Chinese actor/actress that stars in the second movie will face severe backlash if there is any hint of derision towards their culture.

  5. Gah says:

    Totally agree about Constance as Rachel- it was weird in the first film almost like she had a completely diff audio track. I also never warmed to her as that character. But that may be bc we could low key tell her vibes are off. Have you ever looked at cast red carpet photos? They look sooo uncomfortable around her.

    Gemma I’m the other hand- all in for.

  6. Hollz says:

    Yesssssssss! I love Gemma as Astrid. If we get this as the focus with a LITTLE of the Nick/Rachel story I would totally accept this over a direct sequel, which as someone pointed out above, is going to be a hard sell because of how it portrays China.

  7. Polly says:

    Let’s be honest, Astrid is the best character.

    • HandforthParish says:

      Totally! her story arc through the books was really good. Great character development and sweet love story.

      • Jan90067 says:

        While I love Astrid and Charlie, I can’t believe Astrid would’ve continued to stay with Michael after the way he was so abusive to their child. Just rings false to the character to me.

  8. MaryContrary says:

    Yay! Loved the books and loved the first movie. It’s my feel good movie if I need a pick me up.

  9. Fancyhat says:

    I found Astrid to be incredibly dull in the movie though the actress is just gorgeous.

    I’d prefer more Nick/Rachel myself mainly because I love fish out of water stories and the actor who plays Nick is fantastic

  10. Nuzzy says:

    I loved Astrid. She was classy, kind, and had respect for herself and others. Gorgeous, too, of course. She made Wu’s character look like the typical word-vomit-prone American that she was. Different cultures, of course, but I preferred Astrid’s style.

  11. Twinkle says:

    She’s a beautiful woman, but she has zero charisma. I watched CRA, and I thought she was a snooze. I watched her leave The Mark Hotel for The Met Gala. All the other celebs were vamping for the cameras. She looked timid and spooked. How’re you going to be a film actress when the cameras scare you?

  12. The Voice says:

    Gemm is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. Personality-wise she comes across as very nice but reserved so in interviews she’s just kind of nothingburger. You’ll hear a little about her job and what certain roles mean to her but you won’t get crazy stories or her putting out her strong viewpoints. Her fashion is a little edgy but she doesn’t say anything controversial or earth shattering. I feel like a lot of the characters that she plays are also safe and measured. Even if the story is crazy she plays it straight and contained.

  13. Twin falls says:

    I’m excited for this!

  14. Shady Lady says:

    While I think Gemma Chan is out of this world beautiful and loved her as Astrid, I really hope in the sequel they have the Kitty Pong storyline as well. Great social commentary and I would love to see it translate on screen!

  15. Eggbert says:

    Gemma and Harry are both so good looking! I could watch them take turns reading the phone book.

  16. Normades says:

    I liked but wasn’t *crazy* about the first movie but take my money I’ll watch the sh&t out of this.

  17. BeanieBean says:

    I loved the books & I’ll watch whatever movies they want to produce, especially if they bring back the same cast. The stories & characters are big & intertwined, so however they want to present these stories is fine with me. I’ll wait as long as I need to!!

  18. Escape says:

    I loved Astrid but can we please have a spin off series with Peik Lin and her family?? They were just outrageous.

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