The past few years have seen an increasing number of Asian stars making it big in Hollywood, with Singapore’s very own Chin Han having been signed on by Creative Artists Agency in the United States, an American talent agency that manages the likes of Lady Gaga, Brad Pitt, and Will Smith. Even film franchises are seeing the value of casting Asian stars in leading roles – like Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” – and television shows with predominantly Asian cast members like “Fresh Off the Boat” have become increasingly popular.
In fact, Constance Wu, who plays tiger mum Jessica Huang in “Fresh Off the Boat”, will be one of the main characters in this year’s “Crazy Rich Asians”. The film is due to be out this August, and it looks set to propel other Asian talents into Hollywood stardom.
So who should you look out for this 2018? Here are the stars from all over Asia who will be headlining blockbuster hits this year.
1. Henry Golding, Malaysia — “Crazy Rich Asians”
Local viewers will probably find Henry Golding familiar, since he frequently hosts local shows such as “Food Reformers” and “Don’t Mess With Us”. He’s also been on Discovery’s “Surviving Borneo” and BBC’s “The Travel Show”.
The British/Malaysian actor grew up in Malaysia before his family relocated to England when he was 7. He’s currently based in Singapore and Malaysia, but once “Crazy Rich Asians” is out, he might very well find himself relocating again — to Hollywood!
2. Raja Ilya, Malaysia — unspecified Marvel movie
Raja Ilya will be starring in an upcoming Marvel movie and speculations have been rife about which character she could be playing. The Malaysian actress has played a variety of roles on television and film in her home country, and was nominated for Best New Actor in the 28th Malaysian Film Festival for her role in Malay comedy “My Husband, Mr. Perfect 10”, which also starred Aaron Aziz.
We’re excited to see who Raja Ilya will play in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially if it entails an Asian reimagining of a classic character!
3. Win Morisaki, Japan/Myanmar — “Ready Player One”
Born in Myanmar, Win Morisaki moved to Japan when he was 10, where he was talent spotted just four years later and made his foray into the entertainment industry. He joined a Japanese boyband, PrimaX, at the age of eight, and has appeared in several Japanese movies and shows since.
But his Hollywood debut will be in “Ready Player One”, a post-apocalyptic science fiction film. In that film, he plays Daito, a highly-skilled player of that movie’s fictional virtual reality game OASIS. With a name like Win, you can’t help but root for Morisaki to make it big in Hollywood!
4. Crystal Liu Yifei, China — “Mulan”
In what has to be one of the most circuitous media adaptations ever, a Chinese actress plays a live-action American adaptation of an animated American adaptation of a well-known Chinese character. Liu Yifei, who also goes by the name of Crystal Liu, brings authenticity to the role of the upcoming live-action “Mulan” film by Disney. The Chinese actress has been active since 2002, and was one of the Four Dan Actresses (most bankable Chinese actresses) in 2009.
The television version of Mulan, as seen in ABC’s “Once Upon A Time”, was played by American actress Jamie Chung, and Ming-Na Wen provided the voice of Mulan in the 1998 animated version.
5. Ludi Lin, China — “Aquaman”
If Ludi Lin looks familiar, that’s because he appeared in last year’s “Power Rangers”, which received mixed reviews (although this reviewer liked it). The China-born actor played the Black Ranger and will be appearing as Murk in this year’s “Aquaman”, the leader of Atlantis’ army.
Lin grew up in Australian boarding schools before emigrating to Canada for his last year of high school. He’s appeared in films like “Monster Hunt” and shows like Netflix’s “Marco Polo”, and it looks like he’s finally making a solid transition to the silver screen!
6. Kris Aquino, Philippines — “Crazy Rich Asians”
In the Philippines, Kris Aquino is known as the “Queen of All Media”. The daughter of two politicians in the Philippines, former senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr. (who was assassinated when she was 12) and former president Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, she spent many of her growing up years studying in the United States due to her family’s exile. However, she started her media career in the Philippines in 1986 appearing in guest roles on dramas and talk shows, garnering other nicknames like “Box-office Queen” and “Massacre Queen” for her performances.
The 46-year-old is set to appear in this year’s “Crazy Rich Asians” in a cameo role, although it hasn’t been announced what that is. Suffice to say, if it’s on her Instagram account, it’s probably going to be big!
Bonus entry: Amos Yee, Singapore — some future political documentary
19-year-old Amos Yee shot to fame after starring in and criticising Jack Neo’s “We Not Naughty” in 2012. The scope of his exploits is too extensive to cover here and none of his YouTube videos are appropriate for sharing, but his escape to the US for political asylum sounds like ripe fodder for a documentary.
Given that most of his antics so far have been successful grabs for attention, Yee’s probably going to be in a political documentary film… or he will make his own. We won’t be surprised if it’s the latter.
Did we miss out any Asian stars who are going to make it big in Hollywood this 2018? Let us know your picks!
Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter, having written for “Lion Mums”, “Crimewatch”, “Incredible Tales”, and “Police & Thief”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.
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