Rather than being based on a true story, A24's The Farewell has been marketed as drawing inspiration from "an actual lie." And now, in our exclusive featurette from the critically acclaimed indie film, we have a bit of insight into what gave writer and director Lulu Wang the big idea.
The Farewell tells the story of Billi (played by Awkwafina), a young Asian American woman who discovers that her beloved grandmother Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao) has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Although Nai Nai has been given a short time to live by doctors, her family decides not to tell her that she's dying. Instead, in a twist truly stranger than fiction, they throw an impromptu wedding to unite their scattered family members and reconnect with the matriarch before she passes.
As Wang says in the clip, the story is "loosely based" on her own family, who kept their grandmother's stage four cancer diagnosis a secret and planned a wedding as a ruse to say goodbye. In order to properly showcase the story of "a white lie used to protect the ones we love," Wang knew she needed to find just the right actress to portray Billi. Fortunately, rapper, actress, and comedian Awkwafina was down for the role.
"She has to lie to her grandma out of love, and I think she's very conflicted with that," the Crazy Rich Asians star says of her character. "[The story] resonates with people of all races, I think. Everyone loves their grandma."
Watch our exclusive clip from The Farewell above, and then make sure you see the film in theaters now.