Having starred in Spiderman: Far From Home and Crazy Rich Asians, Australian actor Remy Hii is no stranger to being attached to powerhouse films with box office success.
But nothing he’s worked on is quite like his latest project which comes with its own solid fan base in a film category that’s one of most entertaining and heartwarming; Christmas movies.
The 35-year-old portrays Peter Maxwell in The Princess Switch 3: Romancing The Star, Netflix’s third instalment in the popular festive franchise starring Vanessa Hudgens.
“I’m very excited about it,” Hii told Refinery29 Australia ahead of the movie’s release on the streaming platform on Thursday, November 18.
“It’s a great, fun movie and it [the series] has such a huge audience. I don't think that they [Netflix] expected how popular it was going to be, but the first two movies really blew up. I think that it was like the number one movie on Australian Netflix for quite some time.”
For those who are yet to catch up, the first film followed what happened when two women who are lookalikes, Stacy DeNovo, a baker who runs a popular pastry shop in America, and Lady Margaret Delacourt, Duchess of Montenaro in Belgravia, London unexpectedly cross paths.
Both played by Hudgens, the characters switched places in a Parent Trap-style swap of sorts, and the second film introduced yet another woman bearing a near-identical resemblance, Margaret's villainous cousin Lady Fiona.
This time around, Stacy and Margaret will turn to their doppleganger, Fiona and her charming ex Peter (Hii) for help when a priceless Christmas relic is stolen.
With the movie shot in the UK during the Christmas period last year, Hii said he wasn’t sure what to expect when he walked onto the set to meet Hudgens.
“You never know when you work with big stars how are they going to be,” he explained.
“In a lot of scenarios, you hear about some people with just like a lot of clout. They'll turn up, they'll do their coverage for camera, and then they'll just walk off if the camera’s not pointed to them and they'll go back to their trailer.
“But Vanessa was just like such a hard worker and she has to play three characters in this film,” he continued, adding it was “really inspiring to see someone who's been a part of this industry for so long, but is still so dedicated as well.”
Hii, whose father is Malaysian Chinese and mother is from England, acknowledges his casting in the Xmas flick comes at a time when a push for greater Asian representation in Hollywood is garnering momentum. His Crazy Rich Asians co-star, Jimmy O. Yang stars in new Netflix Christmas rom-com, Love Hard, while Simu Liu led the charge in the recently released Shang-Chi & the Legend of the 10 Rings as the first Asian superhero to get his own origin story in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“It’s fantastic and I think that Simu is just such a perfect actor for that job,” said Hii, highlighting it’s not just the inclusion of more Asian actors that’s important, but pushing back against the problematic ways in which Asian people have been represented on screen in the past.
“I think that he's [Simu] done some incredible stuff on social media in really trying to deconstruct that narrative that Asian guys can't be sexy, that they can't be desirable,” said the actor. “Well it’s like, look out because he’s about to prove everyone wrong.”
Hii shot to fame after starring on Australian soap Neighbours as Hudson Walsh back in 2013, before being cast as Prince Jingim in Netflix drama, Marco Polo. He portrayed Brad Davis in Spiderman: Far From Home in 2019, and played Alistair Cheng in Crazy Rich Asians a year earlier.
Speaking of Crazy Rich Asians, Hii is one of many stars alongside Henry Golding, Eternals star Gemma Chan and Chris Pang whose profiles have escalated since the movie’s 2018 release. Hii confirmed his character will feature in the second and third follow-on movies, but filming of the sequel which was initially slated for 2020 still hasn’t commenced.
“I think it's becoming a case of trying to line schedules up,” he explained. “And especially right now, I think filming in the middle of a pandemic is like one of the most difficult things.”
Looks like it’s a matter of watching this space for updates on the next Crazy Rich Asians on-set reunion, but in the meantime we have Hii’s mistletoe-worthy performance to enjoy in his new Christmas film.
The Princess Switch 3: Romancing The Star premieres on Thursday, November 18 on Netflix.