Constance Wu reveals why she almost didn't take the 'Crazy Rich Asians' role

What would Crazy Rich Asians have been without Constance Wu? The actress revealed why she almost didn’t take the part of Rachel Chu — and what changed her mind — during an interview on Saturday, November 17.

“I actually let the part go, because I met with [director Jon M. Chu] and I was like, ‘I really want to do this, but I can’t, because I’m under contract with my show and we shoot in the fall,’” the Fresh Off the Boat star explained during a panel discussion at the Vulture Festival.

“I was like, ‘Cool, another actress will get that and I will be 100 percent behind her because I want there to be more Asian actors out there,’” Wu, 36, continued. “So I kind of let it go.”

The Virginia native then went on to note the surprising moment she decided to reach out and try to make it work. “I was on an airplane,” she said, noting she “was sitting next to somebody” who made her think, “Wow, life is too precious right?”

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Constance Wu on the red carpet
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 09: Constance Wu attends the 2018 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on October 9, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Constance Wu arrives to the Los Angeles premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asians' held at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Actress Constance Wu arrives at the Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asians' premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Actor Henry Golding and actress Constance Wu arrive for Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asians' Premiere held at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Actor Constance Wu arrives at Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Crazy Rich Asians' Premiere at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Constance Wu attends 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AXN)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 04: Actress Constance Wu attends the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 4, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 04: Constance Wu attends the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 4, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - DECEMBER 11: Actress Constance Wu arrives at The 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on December 11, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images for Fashion Media)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Actress Constance Wu arrives at the premiere of Disney's 'A Wrinkle In Time' at El Capitan Theatre on February 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 11: Actor Constance Wu attends The 23rd Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 11, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 07: Actor Constance Wu attends HBO's Official Golden Globe Awards After Party at Circa 55 Restaurant on January 7, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Actress Constance Wu attends the premiere of 'The LEGO Ninjago Movie' at Regency Village Theatre on September 16, 2017 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
FRESH OFF THE BOAT - ABC's 'Fresh Off the Boat' stars Constance Wu as Jessica Huang. (Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 06: Actress Constance Wu attends the Disney ABC Television Group TCA summer press tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 6, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 10: Actress Constance Wu attends the premiere of 'The Book of Love' at The Grove on January 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 08: Actress Constance Wu arrives at HBO's Official Golden Globe Awards after party at the Circa 55 Restaurant on January 8, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Actress Constance Wu arrives at the Glamour Women Of The Year 2016 at NeueHouse Hollywood on November 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Actress Constance Wu attends Glamour Women Of The Year 2016 at NeueHouse Hollywood on November 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Constance Wu attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
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“So I wrote this email on the plane to [Chu],” she dished. “[I was like,] ‘Listen, I know the schedules don’t work out, whoever you end up putting in the movie … I want to support you, but I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you what this means to me and why.”

However, just because Chu, 39, liked Wu’s enthusiasm to make the scheduling work didn’t mean she got the part without auditioning.

“Oh, my God. I was threatened,” the Virginia native recalled. “Asian Americans don’t often get the opportunity to audition for a lead role, so that in itself is a setback because white actors have the opportunity to practice auditioning in charged situations. If they don’t get that part, they’ll probably audition next week. So it’s not as precious as somebody who gets to audition maybe once a year, maybe once in their lifetime.”

Wu spoke with Us Weekly at the premiere of the film — which was first movie to feature an all-Asian cast since Joy Luck Club in 1993 — about what being in the drama/comed meant to her.

“It’s such an honor to be a part of this. I feel so lucky to be a part of such a talented cast and crew of actors,” she told Us in August. “We only can hope that this opens the door for different kinds of Asian-American stories, and stories from Asians who grew up in countries where they’re not the dominant culture, so they don’t see their faces reflected in pop culture.”

Crazy Rich Asians, which also starred Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Harry Shum Jr. and Ken Jeong, grossed more than $173 million in the U.S.

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