Jo Koy on importance of Filipino elements in 'Easter Sunday' film: 'It brings cultures together'
Filipino representation in Western media is a rare occurence, to say the least. One of the recent popular films where Filipinos were recognized was in the 2021 superhero film Spider-Man: No Way Home through Ned Leeds' grandmother; but even then, that was just a mere cameo.
Fast forward to now, the upcoming comedy film Easter Sunday is here to make a difference by being the first major Hollywood film to feature an all-Filipino cast—a dream come true for its lead star and stand-up comedian, Jo Koy.
Known for sharing stories about his family and cuture in his comedy shows, he previously poked fun about how Filipinos frequently recycle plastic containers into makeshift "Tupperware" and how Filipino moms would resort to using Vicks VapoRub to cure every kind of illness.
"When I did that joke, do you know how many DMs I got from people who weren’t Filipino? I got so many people saying, 'My mom did the same thing to me when I was a kid'," Koy shared in an exclusive interview with Variety.
He added that a camera guy came up to him one day to tell him that his mom used to make him swallow a teaspoon of Vicks.
"'Your Vicks joke, I think I’ve watched that about 1,000 times,'" said the cameraman.
According to Koy, these kinds of cultural humor are what bring people together.
"Here we are relating to crazy moms, and that’s what I love about comedy because that’s what brings us together, and that’s what brings cultures together and you find out that we are very similar. We’re very relatable," he said.
Food is also an important part of the country's culture, and Koy made sure that the film's cast and crew know about it.
"I went to every Filipino restaurant in Vancouver. We had catering by Filipino restaurants. It was cool to have a set where the crew was asking 'What is this?'" he shared "Filipino food for me is what brings cultures together. I taste your food, you taste mine and it’s a good icebreaker," Koy added.
However, the comedian wasn't so welcoming towards making fun of the local cuisine, saying he wasn't going to allow jokes about it slide by.
"We’ve been the butt of so many jokes for so long. Filipinos have such delicious tasting food, and if we can just celebrate it and show people what it looks like, then we won. That’s why it was so important to have that dinner table scene," Koy said.
In Easter Sunday's trailer, there was a clip where the characters were preparing for items to pack in their Balikbayan box. Koy shared that that particular scene made him emotional because it "brought so many childhood memories."
"For my mom to be an immigrant here — it’s more than just an opportunity, it’s also providing for another family and helping others. That was so important for me to show to audiences. So know that the co-worker that you work with, they’re not just working to put food on that table at home, they’re working to put food on several tables at another home," he said.
Easter Sunday is set to premiere in US theaters on Aug. 5 while it will be shown in the Philippines on Aug. 31. Aside from Koy, the light comedy films also stars Tia Carrere, Jimmy O. Yang, Brandon Wardell, Eva Noblezada, Lydia Gaston, Tiffany Haddish and Lou Diamond Phillips.
Watch the trailer here: