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Jon M. Chu regrets characters' depictions in 'Crazy Rich Asians'

The director acknowledged that the South Asian characters should've been “more human” in the hit 2018 movie.
'Crazy Rich Asians' cast
Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina and Ken Jeong, the cast of "Crazy Rich Asians."Mike Smith / TODAY

Jon M. Chu, director of "Crazy Rich Asians," said in a recent interview with Insider that the portrayal of South Asian characters in the film was stereotypical.

The 2018 romantic comedy, based on the novel by Kevin Kwan, drew criticism upon its release for its brown characters' holding subservient roles and lacking dialogue.

One scene, in particular, features Rachel, played by Constance Wu, and Peik Lin, played by Awkwafina, lost on their way to a party. They’re eventually met with hostility by heavily armed South Asian guards.

While promoting his latest movie "In the Heights," Chu told Insider that he “totally gets” the criticism. "Looking back, I should have had a joke there [for the guards] being like, 'These idiots,'" Chu said. "There's stuff to do to make them more human instead of just, like, these guards."

Chu did not respond to NBC News' request for comment.

Chu admitted he enjoyed the scene within the novel, yet realized it lacked sensibility on screen. "I didn't understand some of the other contexts to that," Chu said. "So hearing it from people, for me, it was a learning experience."

The director also said that he cast South Asian actors for a large party sequence but did nothing to “accent it in any way." “They’re just sort of there,” he said. “I don’t give them the space to be there.” Chu said he hopefully “won’t make that mistake again.”

Chu told NBC Asian Americathis month that although a sequel to "Crazy Rich Asians" was in the works, he wouldn't do it "unless it's better."

“And I'm not going to go do it unless we have something to offer," he said. "We want to do it so badly. I love that cast. I can't wait for us to get in a room together.”

His adaptation of “In the Heights,” the renowned musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda of "Hamilton," lands in theaters and on HBO Max on Thursday.

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