Rewind and Recast: See what API Actors Should Star in These Classic Romantic Comedies

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

That’s right, she’s back again. And let’s be frank. You either love her or you hate her. But one thing’s for certain: whether you’re celebrating your love for your partner or enjoying the freedom of being single, the arrival of such a romantic day naturally warrants a discussion of our favorite on-screen couples. Obviously. 

This year, we’re pulling some inspiration from our 2023 Valentine’s Day article, which reimagined the film, “Valentine’s Day” with API stars. In a similar vein, this article will reference classic romance movies – as determined by our staff – and recast their main characters. 

So if you happen to find yourself the victim of a Valentine’s Day Romance Movie Rewatch Party, and are ready for a modern twist, here are some API casting choices to consider. 


Brenda Song as Anna Scott (originally played by Julia Roberts

Anna Scott is a famous actress used to the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. But don’t let that fool you; she is also, as many of us are, just a girl. When visiting London, Anna sheepishly stumbles into Will Thacker’s travel bookstore in Notting Hill, which marks the start of their budding romance. Anna is both confident and shy: she braves reporters, misogynistic critics and the tabloids, all while trying to navigate her growing feelings for Will. I propose Brenda Song for this role, who has a talent for commanding our attention on-screen – something she’s been doing since “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.” Song’s passion will give her version of Anna depth, heart, and vulnerability. 

Teo Yoo as William Thacker (originally played by Hugh Grant

Will lives a quiet life, alone with only his dog Spike to keep him company. That is, until Anna appears with her fame that threatens to pull him straight out of his comfort zone and into the limelight. Will’s reserved nature and routine tendencies are a perfect fit for Yoo, who undoubtedly has a skilled dramatic range after his stellar performance as Hae Sung in “Past Lives.” 


Dev Patel as Noah Calhoun (originally played by Ryan Gosling

It’s clear that Noah loves Allie, but the couple find that their main differences lie in their individual upbringings. Namely, Allie’s parents disapprove of her match and after the couple’s initial separation, Noah spends much of his time thinking of Allie: he famously writes to her every day for a year. Noah’s sweet and romantic nature is a perfect challenge for Patel, who has a skilled resume in drama, but less experience in the romance genre. Also, let’s be frank. Patel is swoon-worthy and needs to be cast in more romantic roles. Just saying!

Gemma Chan as Allie Hamilton (originally played by Rachel McAdams

Allie has a particular grace and poise that she prides herself in. We can observe a similar display in Chan’s “Crazy Rich Asians” character, Astrid, who is classy, but feels powerful and self-assured in her status. Overall, Allie possesses an elegance that Chan exhibits, making her a perfect fit for this recast. 


Stephanie Hsu as Sally Albright (originally played by Meg Ryan

Sally is confident in her own convictions. She doesn’t take flack from anyone, least of all Harry. Much of their early relationship begins and ends with slight conflict, in a comedic tension that feels easily achievable for Oscar-nominated Hsu, who has a number of both comedy and drama roles under her belt. Namely, Hsu’s humorously sexual character Kat in “Joy Ride” and her tired, yet strong-willed portrayal of Joy in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” positions her as a perfect candidate to reinvent Meg Ryan’s Sally Albright. 

Manny Jacinto as Harry Burns (originally played by Billy Crystal

Known most notably for his portrayal of hilariously dumb Jason Mendoza in “The Good Place,” Jacinto is no stranger to comedy – which is ideal, considering Crystal is a veteran in the space. What Jacinto will have to work on, instead, is portraying the overwhelming pessimism with which Harry views the world and his relationships. Jason feels like the opposite; he doesn’t seem to hold on to things or have much unresolved tension. But while this may be a character change for Jacinto, it’s certainly not a challenge he can’t tackle. 


Maya Erskine as Bridget Jones (originally played by Renée Zellweger

Erskine has a strong presence in the world of comedy. From her work on “PEN15,” it’s clear she’s familiar with the formula – and possibly ready to take on another romance after her 2019 performance in “Plus One.” Bridget Jones is depicted as a clumsy, strong-willed woman who doesn’t always think things through. Erskine’s “PEN15” character has a similar vulnerability, a childlike innocence that could also be applied to Bridget, who is still on the journey of coming-of-age and finding herself. 

Avan Jogia as Daniel Cleaver (originally played by Hugh Grant)

When I think of Avan Jogia, I think – firstly and most obviously – of Beck from “Victorious.” But then I remember that I’ve seen him elsewhere, recently, and that’s when it all clicks. Did anyone else see Netflix’s “Choose Love,” the interactive rom-com that gave you too much power to choose who Laura Marano gets with? Don’t worry if you didn’t. I did and here’s all you need to know: Jogia plays a suave British pop star, who takes a particular interest in Marano after learning of her talent in music producing. His role as such carves out a clear pathway into Daniel Cleaver-ness. It’s evident that Jogia can play the bad boy turned workplace romancer. And a plus: he knows how to do a British accent!

Justin Chien as Mark Darcy (originally played by Colin Firth

Mark is Bridget’s childhood friend and as such, they have various shared acquaintances. So for much of the film, Bridget and Mark meet unexpectedly and often awkwardly. All their interactions are quiet and a bit weird, but nonetheless filled with a subtle tension that Colin Firth pushes to the forefront through his reserved portrayal of Mark. Chien, most recently seen on “The Brothers Sun,” has the charming charisma necessary for Darcy’s character, while also being a grumpy badass. Not many can pull off the restrained demeanor that’s necessary for Darcy.


Harry Shum Jr. as Benjamin Barry (originally played by Matthew McConaughey)

Ben is an advertising executive hungry for workplace advancement. In an effort to prove he’s romantic enough to lead a campaign for a diamond company, he bets his boss that he can make a girl fall in love with him before the company ball in 10 days time. We’ve seen Shum in rom-coms before, and he’s familiar with this fake-innocent, good-guy character (think of his recent stint as Owen Lin in “Love Hard”). He’s certainly more than capable to take on the role, and let’s be honest – he’s been a major heartthrob since his time on “Glee.” 

Sydney Park as Andie Anderson (originally played by Kate Hudson)

Park is no stranger to romance – in fact, she can be seen opposite Hero Fiennes Tiffin in the 2022 film, “First Love.” While Park is young, only 26, she nonetheless has an impressive resume, which includes roles in “Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists,” “The Walking Dead,” and the Netflix thriller, “There’s Someone Inside Your House.” And though her credits point at an interest in the horror genre, Park has a wide breadth of experience, and began her entertainment career when she started performing stand-up comedy at just 6 years old. Park’s versatility is what would make her a great choice for Andie, and the role would give her a chance to flex her comedy muscles again after a run with slashers and zombies. 


Nichole Sakura as Margaret Tate (originally played by Sandra Bullock

When I think of Sakura’s acting, it is easy to praise her portrayal of Cheyenne, the somewhat ditzy pregnant teenager that worked at Cloud 9 in “Superstore.” She played her with care: I felt protective over Cheyenne, who knew what she wanted but was not yet mature enough to know how to get it. Margaret, though in another stage of life, is also still figuring things out. Margaret would give Sakura the opportunity to play someone new, while also pulling from her experience as one of contemporary sitcom’s most beloved characters. 

Charles Melton as Andrew Paxton (originally played by Ryan Reynolds

Andrew is Margaret’s assistant, who is dragged into her life after she convinces him to marry her so that she can avoid deportation back to Canada. Melton has that innocent, if slightly immature, look that Reynolds is known for. And after his stellar performance in “May December,” it’s clear that Melton is definitely one to consider. 

Bonus: Lori Tan Chinn as Grandma Annie (originally played by Betty White

Chinn has solidified herself as THE funny Asian grandma with her roles in recent favorites, “Awkwafina is Nora From Queens” and “Joy Ride.” She’d shine in “The Proposal,” which has Gammy doing all sorts of outrageous things, including going to a strip club and faking a heart attack. 


Alexander Hodge as Jacob Palmer (originally played by Ryan Gosling

Jacob is cool and confident with women, and most importantly, knows how to talk to them. It is this quality that propels the relationship between himself and Cal forward – it is also the quality that I see Hodge possessing the most. He is suave and confident, a claim evidenced by his roles as Kat’s hot basketball player ex-boyfriend in “Joy Ride” and Andrew AKA Asian bae in “Insecure.”

Midori Francis as Hannah (originally played by Emma Stone

Francis and Stone share a sophisticated calmness; they both have played characters that are quirky, fun, and above all, real (FYI, I’m thinking of Lily from “Dash and Lily”). The care and natural charm that Francis exhibits positions her as a clear frontrunner in the Hannah Weaver recast decision. And besides, this will allow Francis to capture our rom-com-loving hearts once again. 

Kaliko Kauahi as Emily Weaver (originally played by Julianne Moore

Kauahi is a comedy powerhouse. I know her as Sandra from “Superstore,” and because of that, I also know how expressive she is when acting. And if you’re familiar with “Crazy Stupid Love,” you’re familiar with the shocking, tell-all scene I’m thinking of (Hint…David Linhagen….). My brain tells me that Kauahi’s expressions, in that scene alone, should be enough for me to cast her as Emily. And it is!

Randall Park as Cal Weaver (originally played by Steve Carell

Cal is freshly separated, trying desperately to adjust to his changing world. We pity him, but of course, because Steve Carell is Steve Carell, we also see the humor in it all. Park has a similar persona: he’s established himself as a comedy force and as such, he could easily twist Cal’s situation into something uplifting, if not funny. He also has previous experience in the rom-com, evident through his success in “Always be my Maybe” – and hey, we know he can throw a punch! (Wait…maybe Keanu should play David Linhagen…)

While this has been fun, it would be a shame not to mention some contemporary romance movies with diverse casts and API leads that we encourage checking out this Valentine’s Day. Of note:  “Love Hard,” “The Half of It,” “The Lovebirds,” “Wedding Season,” “Fire Island,” “Crush,” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.”