In Crazy Rich Asians, viewers are transported into a world of opulence and wealth that many might never encounter in their own lifetime. But while Astrid Leong, the dear cousin of leading man Nick Young, is known in the film as a high fashion icon, her down-to-earth ways are exactly why her character has always been actress Gemma Chan’s favorite.
“She’s an exception in that family…she’s someone who doesn’t buy into the trappings of wealth,” Chan told CASSIUS. “She loves fashion and fine jewelry, but it’s not to be ostentatious or demonstrate her wealth. She buys things because there’s a story behind them.”
Chan describes her character as “one of the most grounded, empathetic characters” that protagonist Rachel Chu encounters in Singapore. As a lover of all things fashion, Chan said she wanted her style to reflect the influence of similar icons.
“When I was talking to Mary Vogt, the costume designer, and Jon about where we were going to go with this character I think we were talking about our influences and in my mind it was a bit of Audrey Hepburn, a little Grace Kelley, that kind of timeless style, but with a modern twist,” she said. “I think the light pink Dior dress we first meet her in captured it.”
“I wanted my wardrobe on the tour to reflect the values of the film…”
The actress took this humanitarian aspect of Astrid’s character and the film’s mission with her on the press tour. On each stop, she showcased wardrobe choices by foreign-born designers such as Prabal Gurung, Oscar De La Renta, Kenzo Takada, and more, which the actress said was “a conscious choice.”
“I wanted my wardrobe on the tour to reflect the values of the film, so I really approached it from that same inclusiveness of the film and diversity,” she explained. “I really wanted to use this opportunity to shine a light on Asian creativity, minority creativity, and take the opportunity to be a little bit educational.”
Between her heart of gold and passion for fashion, Astrid is definitely set to be a fan favorite in the Crazy Rich Asians franchise. Chan says that she hopes the film inspires Asian viewers and other viewers of color to feel (for what might be the first time) that they are worthy of being the stars of their own stories.
“I really hope this opens the door for more diverse storytelling, not just from other Asian stories but really anyone who hasn’t been included in dominant culture,” she said. “Our stories are worthwhile and we deserve a seat a the table.”