Outtakes: Crowe apologizes for ‘Aloha’ casting
BY MIKE GORDON / firstname.lastname@example.org
Cameron Crowe, the Oscar-winning Hollywood director whose new film “Aloha” generated howls of protest for its portrayal of Hawaii and minorities, apologized Tuesday on his official blog, The Uncool.
Crowe, who also wrote the screenplay for “Aloha,” heaped praise on actress Emma Stone, whose character, Allison Ng, was the target of angry commenters who felt she was too Caucasian to play a part-Hawaiian-Chinese fighter pilot and mangled pronunciation of some Hawaiian words.
“Thank you so much for all the impassioned comments regarding the casting of the wonderful Emma Stone in the part of Allison Ng,” Crowe wrote. “I have heard your words and your disappointment, and I offer you a heartfelt apology to all who felt this was an odd or misguided casting choice.”
Since 2007, Crowe has viewed Stone’s character as a proud one-quarter Hawaiian who was frustrated that she did not look Hawaiian, the director wrote.
“Extremely proud of her unlikely heritage, she feels personally compelled to over-explain every chance she gets,” he said. “The character was based on a real-life, red-headed local who did just that.”
Stone worked hard to prepare for the role, according to Crowe, who added: “If any part of her fine characterization has caused consternation and controversy, I am the one to blame.”
His blog post, which included a photograph of a director’s chair with “Allison Ng” stenciled on it, had the comments feature disabled.
“It was a small movie, made by passionate actors who wanted to join me in making a film about Hawaii,” wrote Crowe, who noted he felt his film was misunderstood by many. Crowe also pointed out that he provided local jobs during the four months of filming.
“Aloha” also stars Bradley Cooper and Rachel McAdams and includes local activist Dennis “Bumpy” Kanahele, who plays himself and gives a voice to the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.
In “Aloha,” a down-on-his-luck military contractor (Cooper) returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs — the U.S. space program in Honolulu — and reconnects with a long-ago love (McAdams) while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watchdog (Stone) who is assigned to him.
The title of the film angered some who felt it was a further commercialization of the word “aloha.” The film initially was called “Deep Tiki,” then referred to as Crowe’s Untitled Project. Earlier this year, it was officially dubbed “Aloha.”
The film was shot in 2014 on Oahu and was released in theaters Friday. It has not fared well, earning $9.7 million in its first weekend.
Prior to the blog post, Crowe said little publicly about the controversies that erupted in the week before the film’s release. At a preview screening in Los Angeles, he told the audience it was a “love letter” to Hawaii.
“I am grateful for the dialogue,” Crowe wrote of the controversy. “And from the many voices, loud and small, I have learned something very inspiring.
“So many of us are hungry for stories with more racial diversity, more truth in representation, and I am anxious to help tell those stories in the future.”
Mike Gordon covers film and television in Hawaii for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter. Read his weekly “Outtakes” column Sundays in the Star-Advertiser.