Kris Aquino on being the original crazy rich Asian: 'I am not crazy rich, I just work like crazy'

Actress Kris Aquino and her son actor Bimby Aquino Yap attends the premiere of Warner Bros Pictures' "Crazy Rich Asians" in Hollywood, California, on August 7, 2018.

Crazy Rich Asians" is officially a blockbuster, having made US$35.3 million (S$48.5 million) on its first five days, according to Warner Brothers. In the US, it came out first in the box office. On social media, the film drew a large amount of buzz.

According to Fortune, there were 781,000 tweets since July, with almost half of those tweets reportedly posted the weekend of the opening.

I chatted up queen of all media Kris Aquino, who flew to LA for the premiere, on what role this movie plays in the future of Asian representation, fellow cast member Chris Pang's remark on Kris being the original crazy rich Asian, and what she considers the most meaningful moments in the film.

Singapore actors Fiona Xie, Pierre Png work the Crazy Rich Asians red carpet in LA

Here's a snippet of her post-red carpet interview with

On fellow cast member Chris Pang, who plays Colin Khoo (the male lead's BFF), calling her the "truly crazy rich Asian": "I am not crazy rich-I just work like crazy."

On Canadian gossip site Lainey Gossip calling her the most beautiful woman in her scene: "(Author) Kevin (Kwan) had really wanted me to have afternoon tea with him and Lainey, but I had slept through the entire Saturday afternoon. I was sent the link to her blog by JC Buendia early this morning and I was STUNNED!"

On her red-carpet experience: "We were scared we'd be late because there were road closures, so we took a circuitous route.

"I was really touched that there were a lot of Filipino Americans who made the effort to be on Hollywood Boulevard because it was a really hot day. It was only Gemma Chan (who plays Astrid) that I got to say hello to, and she was as beautiful as ever."

Stars of Crazy Rich Asians shine bright at Singapore premiere

  • Actor Henry Golding (R) and his wife Liv Lo (L) arrive at the film premiere of "Crazy Rich Asians" at the Capitol Theatre in Singapore on August 21, 2018.
  • Hundreds turned up at the Capitol Theatre on Tuesday night (Aug 21) to greet the stars of the film Crazy Rich Asians at the Singapore premiere of the surprise Hollywood hit.
  • The main attraction was lead actor Malaysian-British actor Henry Golding, who plays Nick Young, the heir to a fortune amassed by Singapore's wealthiest family.
  • He was joined on the carpet by his wife, actress and fitness instructor Liv Lo.
  • Also present were Singapore actors Pierre Png, Tan Kheng Hua, Koh Chieng Mun, Fiona Xie, Selena Tan, Janice Koh, Amy Cheng and Constance Lau, as well as photographer Russel Wong and others.
  • Pierre Png and wife Andrea D'cruz
  • Director John M. Chu (R) and his wife Kristin Hodge
  • Fiona Xie, who plays Kitty Pong in the film.
  • Actor Chris Pang walks the emerald carpet in Singapore.
  • The film's weekend takings of over US$35 million (S$47.9 million) in the United States has far exceeded expectations for the romantic comedy, with many seeing its success as a sign that audiences are hungry for fun love stories, and will welcome films that feature non-whites in leading roles.
  • The film, based on the 2013 bestseller of the same name by novelist Kevin Kwan, opens in theatres in Singapore on Aug 22.
  • Malaysian actress Carmen Soo.
  • Singapore actress Koh Chieng Mun.
  • Constance Lau
  • Janice Koh
  • Selena Tan
  • Producer John Penotti and guests pose at the film premiere of "Crazy Rich Asians"


On Asian representation and this movie being dubbed a watershed moment for Asians in Hollywood: "This movie was really meant for the North American audience, but it really still has universal values we uphold, especially love and respect for family and traditions. It's so funny because Bimb was saying I'd be worse than Eleanor (the matriarch and mother of the male lead, played by Michelle Yeoh), and if he ever brought home a girl I didn't like, I'd push her down the stairs."

(Spoiler: There's a moment shot on the staircase between Eleanor and Rachel, played by Constance Wu.)

On what stood out for her in the film: "As a single mom, I could so identify with the deep bond between Rachel and her mom. I understood Rachel's pride in standing up for everything her mom had managed to accomplish on her own."

On what it means for Pinoys to be represented in a major film like this: "When I heard Michelle Yeoh's character speaking about how snobbish Princess Intan was, and how she had asked for an entire row for herself because she didn't want to be seated with anybody, I felt, whoa, in the Asian hierarchy, royalty outranks wealth.

"For a Filipina to be playing the only royal character in the whole film made my heart swell with so much pride and gratitude, because Kevin had fought for me to get this role, and I genuinely felt it was his way of thanking his Filipino super fans!"

Real-life crazy rich Asians with out-of-the-ordinary habits

  • Yayoi Kusama

    She’s crazy and she knows it. But oh, does she have ways of drawing us into her mesmerising madness. After admitting herself into a psychiatric institution in 1977, Ms. Kusama bent convention by freely exhibiting her nervous disorders, paranoia, and hallucinations through her hypnotic art pieces.

    Photo: yayoikusama/Instagram

  • The popular artist, who turns 90 next year, is one of the most sought-after living female artists in the world today. Her White No. 28 (1960) sold for over US$7 million at Christie’s New York, and entry tickets to her Tokyo museum sell out within hours.

    Photo: yayoikusama/Instagram

  • Khun Sumanee Guna-Kasem

    The famous socialite and businesswomen from Thailand is known to for setting up the Maneemondcha Foundation, which provides scholarships for the underprivileged. A dog-lover, she’s also used the foundation to look after 500 canines.

    Photo: sumanee_gunakasem/Instagram

  • So what’s the catch? Have a look at the pictures of the 81-year-old, and you’ll see why she’s known as Thailand’s Barbie. She claims to have only had eyelid surgery.

    Photo: sumanee_gunakasem/Instagram

  • Whisper her name in any top auction house, and they’ll recognise the daring antique buyer for her penchant for outbidding even the Sultan of Brunei.

    Photo: sumanee_gunakasem/Instagram

  • Yoko Ono

    Better known as the widow of legendary John Lennon, Yoko Ono is one controversial lady. Blamed for the break-up of the Beatles, arguing with band members over songwriting credits following Lennon’s death and her outwardly bohemian lifestyle have all added to her infamy.

    Photo: yokoonoofficial/Instagram

  • Her artistic efforts have also drawn mixed reactions, from praise to blatant irritation. Her Voice Piece for Soprano and Wish Tree, a performance piece that had her screaming into a microphone at the MoMA, New York, had the museum actually turning down the volume on the mic after complaints about the noise from visitors and employees. But there’s no doubt that the woman commands attention. Her net worth is estimated at around US$600 million. Imagine that.

    Photo: yokoonoofficial/Instagram

  • Jack Ma

    The Alibaba co-founder has been called crazy many times — that is, before the company set a record as the world’s biggest public stock offering, raising US25 billion on the New York stock exchange in 2014. Today, the e-commerce site is valued at around US$113 billion. Ma’s management style is unorthodox — he admires Forrest Gump, frequently sang at karaoke sessions with employees, and never pretends to know what he doesn’t. At events, he isn’t shy about performing, recently taking to the stage to do an impression of Michael Jackson at a company gala in 2017. Photo: Reuters

  • Pace Wu

    The Taiwanese B-grade actress who’s now a stay-at-home-mum of three is known for her, erm, generous ways. She notoriously rose to fame — not because of her acting and modeling career — but by getting pregnant out of wedlock. Her baby daddy? Hong Kong casino billionaire, Ji Xiaobo. With a current net worth at an estimated HK$6 billion, and a luxury apartment valued at over HK$2 billion, she’s #madeforlife.

    Photo: pace_wu/Instagram

  • Her Instagram is at turns funny and sexy, with Wu posing in various locations, including supermarkets. Only luxury ones, of course.

    Photo: pace_wu/Instagram

  • Cho Hyun-ah

    Her name might not immediately ring a bell, but if I were to mention “Korean Air heiress” and “nut rage”, you might recall the 2014 scandal that involved a bag of macadamias. In 2014, Cho Hyun-ah, also known as Heather Cho, was in line to succeed her father as chairman of the company (she was the vice-president of the airline). But then, she ordered a taxiing plane to turn back at JFK airport so she could eject an airline staff. Their mistake? Serving her macadamia nuts in a bag, instead of on a plate. Cue outrage and media coverage worldwide, leading to her resignation. Photo: AFP

  • Chen Guangbiao

    He’s saving the world with his recycling business, which has turned him into one of China’s top 400 richest people. But this eccentric billionaire might sometimes draws the wrong kind of attention. He partakes in prolific philanthropic stunts, like giving away cash to the poor — but not before taking a photo of himself standing behind a wall of money. His efforts to push the green cause have seen him go so far as to sell “canned air”.

    Photo: Chen Guangbiao/Weibo

  • He’s even changed his family’s names, saying that he will now be known as Chen Ditan (low carbon), while his wife has taken on the name Zhang Luse (green). His daughters are Chen Huanbao (environmental protection) and Chen Huanjing (environment). And recently, he posted a K-pop style video of himself on his Weibo account, celebrating his recent weight loss.

    Photo: Chen Guangbiao/Weibo