Thursday, March 9, 2017

Yoojin Grace Wuertz's "Everything Belongs to Us"

Yoojin Grace Wuertz was born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States at age six. She holds a BA in English from Yale University and an MFA in fiction from New York University. She lives in northern New Jersey with her husband and son.

Here Wuertz dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, Everything Belongs to Us:
It might be every writer’s dream to have her book made into a movie, and I’m no exception. I would particularly love to see this happen because it’s rare, almost unheard of, for an American film to have a predominantly Asian cast, with Asian leads—and of course this movie would have to have both. And a period and foreign setting on top of it all! Expensive! But what a strong affirmation of diverse storytelling it would be. Trendsetting, or rather trend-bucking, like the brilliant #starringJohnCho meme that projects what major movies would look like if they had cast an Asian-American lead.

For Jisun, I like Karen Fukuhara, who recently played Katana in Suicide Squad: another strong female character with a complicated history and a family vendetta. For Namin, I would love to cast Greta Lee. Greta Lee, though not 19, is eternally youthful with a spiky and slightly off-center intensity that I find fascinating. My main casting problem is that the chemistry between Jisun and Namin has to be perfect and I have no idea how to know this until I know this by seeing it. Would Katana and Soojin from Girls have that perfect zero-to-65 volatility that people who truly love and hate each other have? I would love to find out. (… Or should it be the other way around? Katana as Namin and Soojin as Jisun? Dream problem.)

For Sunam, I would cast Ki Hong Lee, who I first saw in his recurring role in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I didn’t love that they gave him the typical “Asian who doesn’t speak English” role but the writers seem to have realized how underused he was and quickly smoothed out his accent and faltering speech in the second season to allow him more range. I like that he has this determined but fuzzy quality, which is how I see Sunam. Still trying to figure himself out, still trying to become something. Or someone. Of the three actors I mentioned, Ki Hong Lee has the most overt vulnerability in his facial expressions. Sunam is that way: physically solid but unable to hide what is ultimately insecure in his character.
Visit Yoojin Grace Wuertz's website.

--Marshal Zeringue