Released in 2018, the romantic comedy told the story of Rachel (Constance Wu), a university lecturer who travels to Singapore to meet the family of her wealthy boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding).
It was a critical and commercial success and was the first modern film by a major Hollywood studio to feature a majority Asian cast since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club.
However, the film faced some criticism at the time of release from viewers who accused it of “whitewashing” the Asian experience by starring East Asian protagonists while brown South Asian actors portrayed stereotypical roles such as domestic servants and guards.
Speaking to Insider, director Chu said that he “totally gets” the criticism and that it had been a “learning experience”.
“That’s a lesson that I did not understand until it happened,” Chu said, explaining that he would “pay more attention” in the future and hopefully “won’t make that mistake again”.
Referencing one scene in which Rachel and her friend Peik Lin (Awkwafina) are surrounded by guards with rifles, he continued: “Looking back, I should have had a joke there [for the guards] being like, ‘These idiots.’ There’s stuff to do to make them more human instead of just like these guards.”
Two sequels to the 2018 film are currently in development, while Chu directed the forthcoming adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s stage show In the Heights.