Now You See Me 2 (2016) CamAfter fleeing from a stage show, the illusionists (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson) known as the Four Horsemen find themselves in more trouble in Macau, China. Devious tech wizard Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) forces the infamous magicians to steal a powerful chip that can control all of the world’s computers. Meanwhile, vengeful FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) hatches his own plot against Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), the man he blames for the death of his father.
Until, at least, posters for Now You See Me 2 began popping up, featuring the film’s voluminous cast lined up in a row, with one face in particular standing out. Jay Chou, a major Taiwanese pop and movie star, has a small supporting role in the sequel out this Friday, but he takes his place alongside Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Lizzy Caplan,and all the rest in the film’s poster. Maybe this wasn’t a direct answer to #StarringJohnCho, says the film’s director, Jon Chu—but it was a deliberate choice all the same.“We all knew we wanted to show the diversity of our cast and all the different ranges of our talent and personality,” says Chu of the decision to crowd the movie poster like a police lineup. He doesn’t take credit for putting Chou on the poster, but as one of very few Asian-American directors making blockbusters in Hollywood, he recognizes his role in promoting that kind of visibility. “I feel a lot more responsibility now to see what I can do as an artist to help push that and open more paths for the next generation. That’s pretty cool, at least in Hollywood. Things are changing but there’s a lot more to do.”He points out that between himself, Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin, and The Conjuring 2’s James Wan, there are three major tentpole films directed by Asian-Americans opening this summer—not bad for an industry still widely regarded as a “straight, white boys’ club.” And as for Chou, though his presence in the film may be limited—as well as a nod to audiences in China, where the first Now You See Me made nearly 10 percent of its $234 million foreign gross—it’s likely we’ll see much more of him in the future. Chu is already attached to Now You See Me 3 (though it’s still not too late to retitle it Now You Three Me), and says that for Chou’s character, the second movie “may be the beginning of his story.”
But when it comes to breaking down the barriers of what Asian actors can do on-screen, we may also want to look toward Crazy Rich Asians, which Chu also plans to direct. An adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s 2013 social satire about a Chinese-American woman attending a wedding among wealthy Chinese expats in Singapore, the movie would feature an all-Asian cast in roles wildly different from the familiar Hollywood stereotypes for Asian actors. As Chu puts it: “We’re going to break that mold and smash it all over the place and pour Cristal all over it.”