Sabrina Wu has confirmed speculation over the gender identity of their breakout character in Joy Ride.
The raunchy comedy, directed by Adele Lim, follows four Asian-American friends and their berserk adventures on a road trip to China.
Joy Ride was met with universal critical acclaim for Lim’s direction, the chemistry between the leads and its subversive depiction of Asian-American women in comedy – and film in general.
Wu, a writer and comedian, makes their feature-film debut as a socially-awkward, androgynous BTS stan called Deadeye.
The cast is rounded out by Ashley Park (Emily in Paris) as Audrey, an uptight lawyer, Sherry Cola (Good Trouble) as sex-positive artist Lolo and Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All At Once) as Kat, a famous Chinese actress.
While Deadeye is referred to as ‘she/her’ throughout Joy Ride, the last scene sees the character undergo a physical transformation and take on ‘they/them’ pronouns, which Wu says was “intentional and canon”.
“Deadeye is, for sure, non-binary. When I played them, I thought of them as non-binary. In my head, and in the creator’s head, this is someone who hasn’t been around enough people,” Wu tells GAY TIMES.
“You saw the way that Nai Nai [Lori Tan Chin] talked to them. They slapped them in the head and were like, ‘Can’t you just be more girly?’ There isn’t space for Deadeye to be like, ‘Oh, I might be…’ In my head, they didn’t have that space for them.
“They’re very online but the self-esteem and confidence and new community they find, even what we don’t even see in the movie, helps them realise. So, that’s what we were trying to show and they take ‘they/them’ at the end.”
Wu continued to explain that the lack of fuss over Deadeye’s gender identity is “the reality” for non-binary people: “Usually, when you know someone who is gender non-conforming, they take ‘she/her’ and then one day they don’t.
“They don’t have to have nine million discussions on screen being like, ‘I think that I might be trans’ and their whole journey is just about being gender non-conforming.
“I thought it was really cool that there wasn’t this scene where everyone stops talking and is like, ‘And you take ‘they/them’ now? And how did that happen? And what did your parents think?’ That was the idea.”
According to Wu, the character wasn’t “totally figured out” when the cast received their scripts, but was described as a ‘mean-spirited, pretty random and chaotic’ person. The actor identified with being perceived as a “total weirdo who didn’t make sense”, particularly in their youth.
“In my life, I was a person who had reasons for doing the things that I did and I had so many weird special interests. I learned how to beatbox for no apparent reason and I can do the robot in a way where I could make money off the street,” they explain.
“It’s really not good for any professional reason but it’s too good for a regular person to be doing. We collaborated on this character and started to make sense of them, so there are parts of Deadeye that feel very pulled from my life. Hopefully that reads to their authenticity and genuineness.
“There was a really weird sincere version of me when I was in middle school, and I kind of imagined Deadeye as what I might’ve been like had I not eventually found friends later in life.”
You can read our interview with Sabrina Wu and Sherry Cola here in full.
Also starring Ronny Chieng, Meredith Hagner, David Denman, Annie Mumolo, Timothy Simons, Daniel Dae Kim and Desmond Chiam, Baron Davis, Alexander Hodge and Chris Pang, Joy Ride will be released 4 August in the UK.