Interview: Lulu Wang On Refusing To Compromise On ‘The Farewell’, Casting Awkwafina, And More

Lulu Wang’s The Farewell was the only film at Sundance that left me thinking I’d just seen something special. Movies such as this; a small, intimate story across two cultures and featuring an all-Asian cast, simply don’t happen much anymore. They get lost in the shuffle of giant studio movies, or homogenized due to corporate interference, but Wang stood by her guns and made the movie she wanted to make, and thank goodness she did because it’s such a breath of fresh air.

Wang’s film has a breakout role from Awkwafina, who plays Billi, a Chinese-American who learns her beloved grandmother is dying of cancer. However, her very traditional family have no intention of informing grandma of the news, a decision Billi isn’t so comfortable with. It makes for a story that is at times heartbreaking and hilarious, but always rooted in a deep love of family.
I was fortunate to speak with Wang about The Farewell, and discuss the moment she knew this story, which is based on her own experiences, was meant for the cinematic treatment. We also talk about what she went through getting the movie made, and her decision to cast Awkwafina in her first true dramatic role.
Check out my interview with Lulu Wang below, and my review of The Farewell right here!