The cast of Joy Ride are “Spilling the E-Tea” on their friendship, dating and their raunchy buddy comedy! Ahead of their movie hitting theaters in July, cast members Ashley Park, Stephanie Hsu, Sherry Cola and Sabrina Wu got together to give ET the lowdown on their R-rated movie, late-night Squid Game binge-watching parties and why this project holds significant meaning for them all.
Directed and co-written by Crazy Rich Asians co-scribe Adele Lim, Joy Ride followed four unlikely friends who embark on a once-in-a-lifetime international adventure. When Ashley’s (Park) business trip to Asia goes sideways, she enlists the help of Lolo (Cola), her irreverent, childhood best friend who also happens to be a hot mess; Kat (Hsu), her college friend-turned-Chinese soap star; and Deadeye (Wu), Lolo’s eccentric cousin. Their trip soon becomes a journey of bonding, friendship, belonging and, of course, debauchery, that reveals the universal truth of what it means to know and love who you are.
“I think because the film is the first of its kind, that’s something we can say that we went through together,” Cola said, “whether it be the delightful moments, the little challenges… it was a bonding experience that only the four of us have.”
“It was the first time also personally that we all fit in this kind of a thing together or, like, in a leading role in this kind of studio film together,” Park added.
“But what’s special is I feel we’re all so different and I feel like I have a very different friendship with each of you that [I] cherish in a new way,” Wu, who is nonbinary, chimed in. “Ashley and I, are extremely competitive together in board games. It’s a friendship built out of hostility and then Steph feels like my soft, tender person I go to and I call if I ever need anything. Sherry is my cousin.” Quipped Cola: “We’re the queer cousins.”
“I also feel like it’s family,” Park noted, with the others immediately agreeing. “I think what I appreciate the most is we’re all just the most supportive, trusting on set and off set. And I don’t think any of us ever had to really filter anything. And we were just there to do the work and also be there for each other.”
“Which I think really becomes apparent with the dinners we eat. We just eat such good dinners. Like, honestly, a feast — Asian feasts,” Hsu shared.
The foursome recounted the wildest things they did while making the movie, which included a late-night Squid Game binge-fest on the first night of filming. Hsu recalled coming into their watch party late that evening after getting off work.
“I wrapped at like 3 a.m., got home, everybody’s eating a charcuterie board and binge-watching [Squid Game],” the Everything Everywhere All at Once star recalled. By that time, Cola recounted they were already “eight episodes deep.” After Hsu went to sleep, Park and Wu were adamant on finishing out the season in one go: “Me and Sabrina were like, ‘We’re not stopping.'”
“They finished, so then we were watching on our phones on set in our trailers to catch up,” Cola recalled. The Squid Game effect had a lasting hold on the cast, as Park revealed, “I have to sleep over at Sabrina’s because I was too scared to be alone but we were like, ‘We can’t stop watching it.’ And then I had cold sores for that whole weekend.”
Because Joy Ride hinges on the four pals as they travel together on a road trip, they all agree Cola would be their go-to planner in real life if they were to all go on an outing. But they all credited each other for being well-rounded itinerary creators. They also dished on the scene from the movie they had the most trouble keeping their laughter in check and who is the flirtiest amongst the cast members (Cola and Wu were their answers for that one).
When the topic of dating came around, the Joy Ride cast acknowledged that they’re all “particular in their own way” when it comes to love and what they look for in a partner. “I do think that we could’ve been pickier sometimes,” Park admitted. “There needs to be a better vetting system. Now we learn, we learn,” Cola said.
And when it came time to turn the tables on each other and ask the questions they’ve always wanted to know the answers to, that’s when the conversation between the four friends got deep. Hsu asked her fellow theater vet, Park, about the most challenging thing about doing Broadway. “Doing a show eight times a week,” the Emily in Paris star admitted.
“I didn’t realize until I stepped away and started doing other things how much my body had really suffered,” Park said. “I wouldn’t do it unless it made me so happy and it was so joyful. It was very, very taxing. just remember waking up every day with that kind of anxiety of ‘ Can I do my job?’ And if you can’t, you don’t have a voice or anything, you do everything in your power to show up that night.”
“And you learned the hard way,” she continued. “I remember the first time for The King and I, I did 200 shows without calling out and by the time I called out, [it] had to be out for a week. It’s so different from what we do onscreen. It’s hard. We’ve had days on this set but you’re like, at the end of the day we’ve moved on. We never see it again, you know?”
Hsu answered a question from Park about a mantra she goes by that keeps her grounded amid all the recent success she’s had, especially following her Oscar nomination for Everything Everywhere All at Once.
“I feel like I am constantly adapting new phrases… I think in moments where you feel like you’re tired or you’re behind, it’s rooted in some model minority myth or Asian excellence. There’s no room to be mediocre at all because if anybody punctures your perfection, then you get kicked to the curb,” Hsu said. “Maybe that’s where it comes from and also it’s probably just coming from a really genuine place of being an artist and wanting to show up and do your best work and be intentional and push yourself, right? So many many tendrils, many, many things that are affecting it but when I was constantly behind, constantly just can’t call anyone back, don’t have time to call anyone back and being so hard on myself, my friend was like, ‘Treat yourself with sweetness.’ People say that a lot. Talk to yourself, talk to your child self… but really challenge yourself to be sweet, tender and gentle.”
Cola, who is bisexual, got emotional when Wu sought to know more about her relationship with her mother and her accomplishments over the past year.
“I’m still unpacking the relationship with my mom, her adapting to this world and all parts of my world. The queerness, I think that’s been the biggest climb for my mom because she’s so proud of all this stuff that I’m doing,” the 33-year-old Good Trouble actress said. “I wasn’t born here. We were all immigrants, we came here, now our faces are on a billboard. Like this has completely exceeded our expectations, our wildest dreams. This was, by definition, impossible when were growing up for my parents, for their parents, you know what I mean? So the fact that we’ve achieved what we have is already just so grand.”
“My mom is incredibly proud. She shows pictures of me to every one of her customers at her restaurant but there’s also that battle of she’s proud of that, but my queerness is still something she’s processing and wrapping her head around. I’ve had a girlfriend for over a year now and it’s still taking my mom a second to grasp this new age concept because she didn’t have the luxury of exploring,” Cola continued. “She was head down, immigrant Asian mother like let me just put food on the table. She didn’t get to listen to Lady Gaga… and watching Netflix all day. But that opened up [my dad’s] mind to being more progressive, whereas he is more accepting of the queerness. We’re close but there, of course, are so many little battles. And to be empathic and patient with her journey in accepting something she’s not used to at all. It’s ever-growing but I think conversations are really important, something that our parents never did with their parents. We’re feeling that gap and just closing it a little more, having these conversations that are just overdue.”
For Wu, Joy Ride marked their first audition as an actor and the learning curve was steep.
“I learned so many things. I learned that I love to perform and I also was forced to learn a lot about myself and about how I want to present to the world,” they said. “Honestly, I was so new to understanding my gender and it was crazy to be on set and be asked like, ‘Who are you? What do you want people to know about you? What clothes do you want? Can you wear platforms?'” Wu recalled. “I think the biggest thing I learned was how to advocate for myself. And that’s something that’s been really, really hard for me. It’s something you really have to learn on set. I’m like working with people that I respect and honestly, terrified of and I feel really lucky that I was supported by you all. Stephanie on the first day was like, ‘This must be zero to 100 for you.'”
“And I could not have done it without you and there was just such a sense of this is a movie that is rare,” Wu shared. “To get to do this and with this demographic of people and we’re going to support each other. There have been so many amazing films starring Asian American people and we’re one of many, but there is still something special and it just felt like we were on the same team and I don’t imagine another project it wouldn’t feel that way.”
Joy Ride is in theaters July 7.
Read the full article here