SEATTLE — While many films start with the words, based on a true story, written across the screen, writer-director Lulu Wang introduces her film The Farewell with, based on an actual lie.
"The Farewell is based on a real lie that happened to me," said director LuLu Wang. "My grandmother was diagnosed with late-stage cancer and given about three months to live and my family said we're not going to tell her."
Wang's real-life torment is acted out on screen by an unlikely leading lady.
Best known for her role in Crazy Rich Asians, actress and rapper Awkwafina plays the very serious role of Bili, the granddaughter of the dying matriarch. So far, Awkwafina has received high praise for her performance, but Wang said she almost didn't get the part.
"I had been interviewing or auditioning a lot of actors for the roll when my producer said have you considered Awkwafina? And at the time it was before Crazy Rich Asians and Oceans 8,” said Wang. "I love her music and I think she's really funny, but it's not who I would think is an actress for a lead dramatic role. So she sent in a self-tape of a couple of scenes and when I watched the audition tape I knew immediately she is the one."
So while The Farewell may be based on a lie, its look at grief and love shows a truth most never get to see on screen.