Fala Chen Cast in HBO Miniseries, “The Undoing”, with Nicole Kidman

After graduating in May 2018 from New York’s The Julliard School with a Master of Fine Arts in Drama, Fala Chen (陳法拉) set her sights to break into Hollywood. She signed with American management company, United Talent Agency, and has been auditioning for roles consistently. Her hard work and determination has finally paid off, as Fala finally secured a role in the upcoming HBO miniseries, The Undoing.

The drama is based on the novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz and will also star Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman. The story follows Grace Sachs, portrayed by Nicole Kidman, who is a successful therapist and will be publishing her first book soon. She has a devoted husband, portrayed by Hugh Grant, and a young son. Grace seems to have it all, making her befit to publish a self-help book. In her book, titled You Should Have Known, she cautions women to really hear what men are trying to tell them. However, shortly before her book gets published, terrible disasters begin to befall upon her, including a death, a missing husband, and other dreadful revelations. Grace must learn to heed her own advice and build a new life for her and her young son.

Fala is cast in the role of Jolene McCall and will star in four of the six episodes of the miniseries.

Source: HK01

This article is written by Huynh for JayneStars.com.

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  1. Hmm…I’m reluctant to bear too much hopes for the series. Fala’s great, but I think I recall her English being mediocre for the most part. I hope there’s no language barrier for her here.

      1. @usjag82 ehhh…she might be able to converse colloquially, as in people have no trouble trying to understand her point. but her grammar and speech still might not be fluent, if you catch my drift. i know a few Asians who came to the U.S. when they were 13-16 and never lost their accents and have terrible grammar, but they’re still able to occupy high positions at work & in life. i just know when she used to speak english in tvb dramas, there was always something off about it.

      2. @coralie Heavy accents of Sophie Vergara, Salma Hayak, Arnold Schwarzennegar haven’t deterred their success in Hollywood. But Asians are dissed for even the slightest accents, with the exception of Gemma Chan’s Brit accent.

      3. @msxie0714 it’s not just accents, it’s also grammar and being able to communicate effectively with the audience. It means being able to do lots of talk shows and do lots of reporter’s interviews. You can say the likes of JC and Li BingBing has done those, too, but their interviews were limited. They cannot be immersed in Hollywood culture and therefore aside from JC who has a legendary position in martial arts films, they can’t break out. Even Arnold’s roles are limited because of his heavy accent. The ones who are breaking out include Gemma, Constance, Ken Jeong, Awkwafina…and the main common denominator? All native English speakers and savvy media handlers.

        Sofia Vergara has an accent, but she communicates well with the media and because she’s Hispanic, it’s much easier for her to communicate in English. Basically all of them have some sort of romance language that helps to make it easy to understand and tie in English. Asians on the other hand, would find it difficult

      4. @funnlim they’re typecasted and can’t break out of that mold. Aside from knowing them as martial arts film experts, what else is there?

      5. @coralie God forbid Jackie will try to act. I don’t like Jackie but like Chow Yun Fatt and Jet Li, typecast or not, they are beyond star there. When hollywood bows to them you know they are just stars. Why dismiss them? What mold to break? what are you talking about? They are good at something and they continue at that something.

      6. @funnlim i am talking about asian stars from asia not being able to break into mainstream hollywood awareness. and that’s mostly because of their inability to communicate effectively in english which directly translates to less notoriety because they’re not able to do all required interviews, publicity, etc.

        Jet Li, Jackie Chan and to a lesser extent Chow Yun Fat are only known for their martial arts films and little else. How many people actually look for them outside of those roles?

        I’m not saying i don’t respect or admire these stars because I do. But i’ve seen how Hollywood works and these stars won’t make it precisely because of the language barrier. Unless they can really immerse themselves into Hollywood life + speak English like a native, their career is pretty much limited.

    1. @coralie
      i remember she did an interview a while back and i thought it was okay. she had an accent but not as strong compared to someone w/ similiar background. given that she graduated from jillard and her western bf, i am sure that her english level has only gone up. plus, they give you yours lines, so it is a matter of remembering and presenting them.

      1. @m0m0 sigh, that’s the problem – the language barrier. how many english-challenged actresses do you know in hollywood? in order to make it, you not only have to act well, but be able to blend in with the crowd. that’s one reason why gemma chan/constance wu is so popular right now. they’re both native English speakers & are absolutely stunning. their english might not matter when they’re acting, but being an actress in this day and age means you have to be savvy with handling the media as well. and i don’t know how fala would be able to achieve that, given her foreign background. it adds a layer of separation.

      2. @coralie
        what i recently heard at a convention about what makes a person appear to have good language skills. how well one is able to carry him/herself is dependent on how confident not on the actual language ability. one with high language skills could still be unclear if she lacks confidence. on the other hand, one with a low language ability could still sound valid and on-point given a limited vocabulary. i experience it myself with an exceptionally smart gentlemen, native speaker. fully capable to express his ideas in a normal conversation but very hard to understand when speaking to a group because of anxiety issues. Another example, another gentlemen, of eastern asian decent who had strong accent, he was able to carry himself extremely well in an academic discussion with another professor. i was shock at how articulate that person was at expressing his thoughts despite cearly english was not his native tongue.

      3. @m0m0
        Tone of voice (loud and clear, with high and low pitch, intonation, and not monotone), articulation of words, pace of speaking, facial expressions, and, of course, self-confidence will make a speaker outstanding in public speaking or acting.

        I hope Fala Chen knows that, and will put all together to present herself well in any shows, movies or drama series.

      4. @coralie also the speed and the length of her dialogue will help. If all she has to say was 3 words to 5 words sentences, it’s easier to hide your weak language skill. Just because she will appear on 4eps out of 6, doesn’t mean she will be in it talking non stop with Nicole for 15mins each eps lol.

        Also attitudes toward learning English, many Asian who moves overseas still hang out with their Asian friends, and felt that if they change their English to be perfect like westerners, they get teased (depend on the friends, but the whole peer pressure thing is quite real). Also who you hang out with might also determine how willing you are at trying to improve your language skills, if you see that talking to your friends and they understand you, then why improve? If you date a westerner or hang out with westerners, there will always be occasions where your language skill will come to the surface (even my native Australian friends’s English were surface because she can’t use certain word correctly in term of writing), and may make you conscious that you are lacking in this or that, and overall, you will improve.

        I think Daniel Wu, when he was young, his English wasn’t that great, despite being oversea for quite a long time? But when he did that western tv series, you can’t tell. I think that also boil down to the filming process, if the director thinks it’s good enough, it’s good enough. But if they think the English speaking part isn’t clear, they will perfect it? For a HBO series, I think they will nail it. My question is will it has nudity lol, because I just have this impression that most HBO series are quite daring (I don’t watch any of them lol, not even GOT, I checked out maybe 3-5eps of GOT but decided it wasn’t for me lol)

      5. @daodao I wasn’t sure, and couldn’t be bother to check. All I know is he supposed to be good at English because he live a long long time oversea, however, the movie with Maggie Q, naked weapon, his English was just ok lol. I wouldn’t call it down right terrible, but it’s not good either lol. And that’s my point: if the director wants it sound like a hk speaking English, then he achieve it. If the director just wants English, and they did one take, and he thinks it’s fine, then we have crappy English speaking scene that doesn’t really reflect how well he can speak English.

      6. @daodao That’s what I thought. He’s more Western than Chinese when he first broke out. Many are ABC, BBC, CBC, A(ustalian)BC, some BC.

      7. @coralie Which is why there are criticisms for Crazy Rich Asians when they all speak with English accent and yet are supposed to be Singaporean Chinese. However I will quote 2 names who succeeded despite accent, 1 especially speaks good english but with local accent. Michelle yeoh and Zhang Ziyi. They both did well. Point is good roles and a good publicist.

        GO FALA!!

      8. @funnlim Michelle yeoh – malaysian – can speak fluent english and can communicate effectively with publicists/interviewers/audience. But how many actually know, know her? She hasn’t really dug trenches into Hollywood life And thus aside from the occasional supporting roles as again, martial arts expert or Asian-required role, hasn’t done much.

        Zhang Ziyi… she’s basically packed her bags and left Hollywood too. How many know about her nowadays aside from Asians?

        I’m talking lasting power in Hollywood that’s not pigeonholed into certain archetypes. Sandra Oh, Lucy Liu are very good examples of a native English speakers who have made it and are known by Hollywood. Now we have Gemma, Constance, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong to add a new generation of Hollywood stars.

      9. @coralie Michelle Yeoh was in recent blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians, She was in Guardians of the Galaxy. She is in Star Trek series as captain, etc. She is not in every movie because she doesn’t need to nor want to. But she is in demand. She speaks with Malaysian accent. Zhang Ziyi basically packed her bags but sure has some staying power.

        There’s also Gong Li who is more glamour than actress. There’s Liu Yifei who is up and coming. I am not sure how good is her english or accented or not.

        Lucy Liu is still tv actress. Sandra Oh is still tv actress. They are native because they were either born there or lived there since young., But are they very famous? No.Gemma is more glamour, yes up and coming but still up and coming. The rest are still up and coming. It is not about native speakers or not. It is whether there is a right role at the right time. English can be improved. Image can be improved. Whether native or not, doesn’t matter as long as can speak English.

      10. @funnlim Michelle Yeoh can speak English natively and flawlessly. And she’s in demand because of it.

        ZZY & Gong Li have no relevancy, unless it’s to get them to play some Asian roles. Not like Lucy Liu, Sandra Oh, and the rest I’ve mentioned. Charlie’s Angels, ring a bell? Sandra Oh is a host in the Oscars and she became famous from Grey’s Anatomy as a lead actress. They are a household name.

        It is absolutely about whether they can speak English natively or not. That’s why I worry for Fala and whether she will make it in this industry when her English isn’t native. It is very limiting for her.

        I’m not sure how Liu Yifei will fare once Mulan comes out, but from my understanding, her English isn’t exactly fluent either. Depending on whether she can handle American media will decide where she stands in Hollywood. Personally i dont think she’ll go far. Her acting sucks (hope Mulan proves me wrong) and there’s no “It” factor in her.

      11. @coralie uh, Michelle Yeoh is sooo well known that her role in Star Trek discovery got rewritten because the fans want to see more of her after 2 eps of season 1! Lol. Now she’s back for season 2, after being killed off so early in s1

      12. @littlefish she can speak English like a native. very few if any grammatical errors.

        also heard the orville is better than STD. I personally love the orville.

      13. @coralie I love the Orville, too, but that’s beside the point, we are not discussing which one is better. The point is if Michelle aren’t popular, they wouldn’t rewrite her role to include more of her for the second season. They are thinking she’s gonna save that series, that is a big deal for an Asian actress. And that speaks volume about her star power. Also a lot started the show because they heavily advertised STD with Michelle being on the helm or at least major support cast (recurring character), but the second she got killed off, I basically couldn’t stand that series for long.

      14. @littlefish yeah but again, Michelle = near flawless English speaker. She has an accent but she has the proper grammar and fluency and media savviness to make an impact. still I don’t consider her a household name in Hollywood.

    1. @tmbern
      i don’t think she looks terrible but i do agree w/ you that she looks different than when she first debuted. my friend joined a pageant w/ her in NY and she was shockingly beautiful. i remember looking at her pic and i thought to myself that she would be the champion no doubt. then she joined tvb and to no surprise, she got popular w/in a matter of a few years. she was shockingly beautiful back then in my opinion. then i think she just started looking not as pretty when she hit 28.
      by all means, she’s still pretty but above average kind of pretty. and compared to gemma chen whose the same age, gemma possesses that shockingly beautiful and graceful aura.

      1. @m0m0 Uhm, I never found Fala to be shockingly beautiful, and only saw Gemma in crazy rich and I have to admit, Gemma is very beautiful, but I think what won me over is her aura, she’s indeed sultry and graceful 🙂 (though I understand that if you meet fala irl, and felt she was shockingly beautiful, then fair enough, because I met Nicole kidman’s sister irl, and before that meeting, I always felt she is not pretty, not like Nicole, but when I saw her irl, there is this shockingly beauty thing radiant out of her face lol! Some people are more attractive irl than on screen is what I’m trying to say 🙂 )

        I love Nicole Kidman, always do, even now, however, she used too much Botox, I’m kinda sad 🙁 I rather see them ages gracefully than use Botox and destroy their face 🙁

      2. @littlefish
        I remember I found Nicole Kidman as absolutely stunning in Batman Forever when I was a child. She has obviously ruined her looks like most celebrities through excessive surgery.

      3. @littlefish I don’t quite like Gemma. I find her sulky. But maybe that’s her posing you know?

        Nicole Kidman is an amazing actress who doesn’t care what role as long as good role. For me quite humble. I think she eased off the botox these few years.

      4. @funnlim I’m not the type that look at a picture and say they are pretty lol. I find an actor/actress more beautiful as they perform their roles 🙂 Gemma in crazy rich was sultry lol, very beautiful and such grace 🙂

  2. Just like most artistes who leave TVB for a greener pasture and she did it. So shld happy for her.

  3. I am excited for her. Nicole kidman is my favourite actress, whatever one might think of her botox situation. Seems like Fala got a sizable role. Don’t know the story but my guess is she may play the mistress? HBO means some heavy duty scenes if you know what I mean. Maybe a breakthrough for Fala. Depending on her character;s origin, perhaps her character need not speak in America or any western accent.

    1. @funnlim
      i agree, it is definitely a breakthrough. you gotta start somewhere no matter who you are. getting cast in any role in the west is like hitting the lottery.

      1. @m0m0
        We have to give Fala enormous credit. While other former TVB leads were churning out the same old crap roles at TVB with zero improvement in acting (Tavia an Myolie etr), Fala has gone out of her comfort zone and went to take on the world and work towards her ambitions. Whether she will find success or not, this is an incredible achievement to get casted in a decent role in America…..

      2. @jimmyszeto
        you’re totally on-point… look at linda chung’s acting skills… i am so glad she’s no longer on screen. don’t do a comeback

      3. @m0m0
        Anne Heung said she wanted to make a comeback the other week on that weekly singing show. She has to understand that leaving TVB as crap actress then making a comeback she is still the same crap actress. People don’t just forget because she took a break…

    2. @funnlim that is my concern as well, HBO series is rather daring for an Asian actress, But will check it out since most of nicole’s Tv series is quite highly rated

      1. @littlefish @funnlim
        A little late to the party with this one, but since I actually read the book that the series is based on, figured I would give my insight on it.

        First, let me just clarify that the character Fala is supposedly going to play is NOT in the book at all! I have no clue where they got that character name from — either whoever adapted the script from the book decided to add in their own characters or the media outlets got the character wrong. I did some research and so far, all I can tell is that Fala is definitely part of the series, but who exactly she will be playing is unclear at this point. I combed through the cast list and all the main characters from the book are already accounted for — what’s weird though is that Fala’s character is the only character not in the book….based on the way the story was written, I have a feeling Fala’s role, even if it’s an added character, is going to be minor — unless they completely change the story, which I doubt…

        Second, the story is told pretty much entirely from the main character Grace’s perspective. The husband Jonathan (who is being played by Hugh Grant) is a “side character” in the sense that for pretty much the entire story, he is mostly “talked about” but never really “appears.” Now with that said, the fact that they cast Hugh Grant in the role makes me think that in the actual TV series, they are going to turn Jonathan into a “main” character who will likely have a balanced amount of screen time with Nicole’s Grace…otherwise, why cast him and not some no-name actor?

        Plot-wise, there is not much action in the sense that nothing major really happens in Grace’s presence — much of the story consists of “describing” stuff. There’s a lot of mental struggle with Grace discovering all this stuff about her husband that she was completely oblivious to before and much of the book deals with her reaction and the way she deals with everything emotionally and mentally. This will actually be quite a formidable role for Nicole Kidman, as Grace Sachs is not an easy character to portray. After reading the book, it makes sense to me now why Nicole got casted, as they do need someone of her caliber to play such a complicated character.

        One thing I will say is that the story is better suited to a visual format (i.e. movie, TV series) rather than written format (book). For example, most of the first chapter was spent describing Grace’s New York office and some of the backstories of her patients (she is a marriage therapist), majority of which was completely irrelevant to the story in my opinion – that entire chapter can be easily depicted in like 1 scene (since majority of it is description anyway). Reading all the description on the page (and it spanned several pages) was super tedious but viewing it on the screen would be a completely different story. Basically, I can completely see why they chose to adapt this particular book, since it translates really well to visual format.

        I’m actually interested in watching this series, not because of Fala, but because I read the book and am curious about the adaptation. I think Nicole’s fans will be happy with this production because it gives her a chance to showcase her skills (plus it sounds like the type of role that will probably get nominated for some type of award down the line).

        @jimmyszeto Agree with you about this being an incredible achievement for Fala. Even though we don’t know for sure what her role will be like yet, I’m still happy for her, as however minor her role, she is getting a chance to participate in a Hollywood production for one, and two, she gets to work with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant (2 big names in Hollywood), but most important of all, unlike all the other supposedly “big name” Chinese actresses that made their debut in Hollywood before her (i.e. Fan Bing Bing, Li Bing Bing, Jing Tian, etc.), she’s not playing a “token Asian” role, that’s absolutely certain (I say this based on the story as written in the book) — in other words, she didn’t get cast in this series because the production company wants to appease a Chinese audience or because China is somehow partially funding this (which has been the case with all the previous movies that those Mainland actresses participated in, like Pacific Rim, The Meg, etc.). In fact, Fala’s nationality doesn’t factor into this at all, which, to me is really the “big deal” that the HK media should be focusing on (though I guess since most likely no one in HK is familiar with the story and probably never read the book, they probably won’t understand this piece) – in my opinion, Fala’s casting is a step in the right direction insofar as her role is one that they could’ve easily cast a non-Asian actress, but they decided not to. To me, it’s much better to be in Fala’s position where you’re being cast in a mainstream but minor role in a decent Hollywood production rather than in a stereotypical, token Asian role – whether major or minor – that was added in for the sole purpose of appeasing China / Chinese investors and if not for that, would be easily dispensable.

      2. @llwy12

        I agree with you on Fala’s achievement in getting the role. Her character’s name is Jolene McCall, which is not a Chinese name. So, we can postulate that the role was not created specifically as an Asian. Which means, Fala won over the others in her audition for the role.

  4. Very cool. There are so many great shows, so little time. I can’t wait to see how her acting has matured.

    And i think just like Nicole Kidman is able to hide her Australian accent, Fala will be able to hide her Chinese one (if needed).

    1. @potatochip Uhm, you are talking about a lady who has been living in the state more than her hometown lol, and her experience in filming is older than fala’s living age lol (possibly – again, I couldn’t be bothered to check the years but you know what I mean lol)

      1. @littlefish I brought up Nicole Kidman because she was the obvious example since they are going to be working together. Nicole has been a great actress for over thirty years, but she was able to hide her accent when she first started in the US. My comparison is Nicole at the beginning stages of her career, not the Oscar Best Actress level now.

        Countless other actors and actresses are able to hide their accents and natural speaking patterns and tones. That is part of the hard work they put in for their roles. But even if Fala can’t disguise it 100% like Daniel Dae Kim or Yunjin Kim, I don’t think it is detrimental.

        It is also disheartening that Asian accents are looked down upon but others are valued. That isn’t directed at you, but at the larger general audience. Maybe if they heard it more often, they would no longer stigmatize it.

      2. @potatochip yea, I think it’s fine to have a bit of an accent, especially if the character supposed to be a migrant 🙂 no accent English is needed though, if the character was born oversea

  5. Fala cant really act.. couldnt finish any dramas she was in. But at least she’s better than linda, lol. Heard she went to new york for school? i wonder is she’s better now or still the same:/

  6. Guys, give her a chance. Remember she spent a few years in Julliard after she left TVB. Surely, her English must have improved in those years and her acting can’t get any worse than before she left. I look forward to watching it just to give this series a chance and support another Asian in Hollywood.

    1. @mike Given that she perfected Cantonese in a few years of being in TVB, I’m pretty sure her English should be fine. She went to school there before and as you said, spent more time for Juilliard 🙂

  7. That’s great! Good on Fala! Hope it is a decent role and they don’t just make her the asian sidekick/extra.

    Can tell she has high aspirations and has worked really hard for this (moving back to the US, studying at Julliard etc), unlike the other tvb actresses that just wants to break into the chinese market.

    Looking forward to seeing her in westernised make up! So sick of seeing all the tvb actresses looking identical in the hong kong style pasty make up. I hope she does well!!

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