The ending of Crazy Rich Asians is such a whirlwind we wouldn't blame you if you missed the subtle two-second glance that Astrid Leong (Gemma Chan) shares with a mystery gentleman at Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and Nicholas Young's (Henry Golding) lavish engagement party. The thing is, it's super important.
For one, this interaction solves one of the biggest mysteries of the movie: Where the heck is Harry Shum Jr.? Shum, aka Mike Chang of Glee, had been billed as one of the movie's top actors in the opening credits, but he only appears in this silent interaction during the end credits. Though his character's name is never said in the movie, Shum plays Charlie Wu, a major character in Kevin Kwan's first novel — and an important person in Astrid Leong's past. This tiny moment sets up Astrid and Charlie's storyline, should there be a sequel (and there really, really should be).
While most of Crazy Rich Asians focuses on Nick and Rachel's against-all-odds love affair, the movie also sheds some light on Astrid's crumbling marriage with Michael Teo (Pierre Png), a hunky soldier-turned-tech startup CEO. At the beginning of the movie, Astrid is still earnestly trying to build a life with her husband. She's a supportive spouse and encourages Michael to pursue his dreams, even if it requires extreme work hours. Still, Astrid can't be completely honest with Michael: She hides the spoils of her shopping sprees from his judgmental eye. Then, Astrid discovers that Michael is having an affair through a stray text message. On their way to a wedding, the Teo's secrets and lies and inferiority complexes implode in a fight in a limo.
Michael and Astrid's marriage is a foil to Nick and Rachel's relationship. Both Astrid and Nick come from tremendous wealth, but chose partners who did not. Whereas Rachel doesn't let Nick's wealth affect her sense of self, Astrid's enormous fortune has a detrimental effect on Michael. Thanks to insidious gender roles, Michael perceives himself as being "less than" because he'll never be the family provider, no matter how successful his start-up becomes.
Here's where Charlie Wu, the mysterious suit-clad man from the end credits, comes in. For Astrid, Charlie is the one who got away. Charlie, like Astrid, comes from money — he's the eldest son of a tech billionaire. Unlike Astrid, though, he comes from new money, a distinction which, after seeing Crazy Rich Asians, you already know might pose a problem for the older generation of the traditional Singaporean elite.
Charlie and Astrid met in Singapore as teenagers. When Astrid moved to England for college, he followed her; they lived together in blissful harmony for four years. At 22, Charlie proposed to Astrid during a ski trip with a 39-carat ring, which Astrid promptly threw in the snow for being "too vulgar." The relationship ended for reasons often speculated in gossip circles, but only known by Astrid and Charlie. When the old lovers reunite at the end of Crazy Rich Asians, you can hear the creak of a door being opened.
Originally, Shum Jr.'s Charlie was supposed to have a more significant presence in the movie. Producer Nina Jacobson explained Shum Jr.'s presence was ultimately limited to preserve the aura of mystery, and leave room for exploring his character in the future.
"We had originally shot more of them together, but what we found when we first started to show the movie to audiences was that, just in terms of screen time, the dissolution of her marriage and then the introduction of this wonderful new guy actually both got short shrift when you rushed it," Jacobson said during a press conference this month. "You felt like you weren't getting the strength that it took her to walk away from her marriage, but also the hope that you might feel about a new person. And that it wasn't just a rebound."
Though a sequel has not been announced, the potential sequel would ostensibly look at Charlie Wu and Astrid Leong's budding relationship. "We'll...hope that audiences ask for more movies so we can continue to tell the story," Jacobson said. The only potential obstacle to romance? Both Charlie and Astrid are still married to other people.
The (still unannounced, much wished-for) sequel will also explore the other twist at the end of Crazy Rich Asians: Rachel's parentage. After doing some snooping, Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh) reveals that Rachel's father is living in a Chinese prison, and that Rachel's mother, Kerry (Kheng Hua Tan), had fled the country while she was pregnant with Rachel.
If Kwan's second book, China Rich Girlfriend, acts as a model for the sequel's plot, then one thing's for sure: Both Astrid and Rachel have some surprises awaiting them.