Professor Rachel Chu
Played By: Constance Wu
A Chinese-American economics professor at NYU who is invited to meet her boyfriend Nick's family in the first book.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: She's good looking and The Hero of the novels.
- Disappeared Dad: Rachel has never known her father and her mother told her that he died before she was born. This turns out not to be the case.
- Fish out of Water: Middle-class Rachel is out of place with the Singaporean upper class.
- Heroic Bastard: She's born out of an affair her mother Kerry had with a friend named Kao Wei.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: The entire family except for Astrid thinks she is a Gold Digger.
- Mistaken Nationality: Eleanor thought she was Taiwanese. It turns out she is mainland Chinese.
- Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: She's the Poor suitor to all of Nick's old flames since she's not particularly wealthy and doesn't have great connections.
Professor Nicholas Young
Played By: Henry Golding
A Singaporean history professor at NYU and Rachel's boyfriend at the beginning of the first book.
- Didn't Think This Through: He didn't think to tell Rachel about how wealthy and snobbish his family is, which causes a few problems.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Colin Khoo.
- I Am Very British: He has a posh British accent because he apparently grew up studying in fancy British schools.
- Raised by Grandparents: His grandmother did most of the job raising him.
- Secretly Wealthy: The Young family is very secretive about their wealth, and Nick is no exception. One reason is that he wanted to form genuine attachments to people without having hangers-on who were only interested in his money.
- Uptown Girl: A male version since his family is very wealthy and connected and Rachel is not.
Shang Su Yi
Played By: Lisa Lu
Wife of Sir James Young and mother of Felicity, Catherine, Philip, Victoria and Alexandra Young. Has a brother named Alfred.
- Affectionate Nickname: Referred to as "Ah-ma" by the grandchildren.
- Belated Backstory: We learn more about her in Rich People Problems, the third book.
- Hero of Another Story: She helped hide British soldiers from the Japanese Army during World War II.
- The Matriarch: Of the Young family.
- Parental Favoritism: As revealed by her daughter, Victoria, in the third book, due to Philip being her only son, she spoiled him with everything, while her daughters were basically given a hard time for everything.
- Widow Woman: Her husband Sir James died many years ago.
Sir James Young
Shang Su Yi's deceased husband, a neurologist.
- Hero of Another Story: Saved many lives during the Japanese occupation of Singapore during World War II, including Dr. Gu.
- Parental Substitute: To Su Yi's daughter Catherine, who he raised as his own child.
- Posthumous Character: Sir James has been dead for an unknown amount of time before the story began.
Puan Sri Felicity Leong, nee Young
Played By: Janice Koh
Shang Su Yi's eldest daughter. Married to Harry Leong and mother of Henry, Peter, Alexander and Astrid.
- I Have No Son!: She and Harry disinherited Alexander because he married a Malaysian woman.
- My Beloved Smother: Especially to Astrid.
- The Scrooge: She's tight-fisted about money, as evidenced in the book's prologue when she makes Eleanor, Nick, Astrid, Alexandra and Eddie walk nine blocks in the pouring rain.
- Those Two Guys: With her sister Alix in the film.
Tan Sri Harry Leong
Felicity's husband and father of Henry, Peter, Alexander and Astrid. Director of the Institute of ASEAN affairs.
- Adapted Out: Does not appear in the film.
- Everyone Is Related: His sister is presumably Colin Khoo's mother.
- Hypocrite: His family made their money in Malaysia. Doesn't stop him from disinheriting his son Alexander for marrying a Malaysian woman.
- Just the First Citizen: Claims to be a mere public servant, though he is said to be a kingmaker in Singapore's government.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Buys the Calthorpe hotel after its manager is racist towards his wife and her family. He also takes care to fire said manager.
- Meddling Parents: A controlling father to his children, evidently to Astrid and Alexander.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: He and his sons treat Michael like a servant.
Astrid Teo, nee Leong
Played By: Gemma Chan
Felicity and Harry's only daughter. Married to Michael Teo, with whom she has a son named Cassian.
- The Fashionista: She's always had a passion for fashion.
- Nice Girl: Perfectly pleasant to be around and accepts Rachel.
- Outnumbered Sibling: She's the only girl in the Leong family.
- Platonic Life-Partners: With Nick.
- White Sheep: Somehow didn't receive the snobbish attitude displayed by the rest of her family.
Played By: Pierre Png
Astrid's husband and Cassian's father. A tech CEO and former Army captain.
- Acquired Situational Narcissism: In the second and third books, he makes a lot of money from Charlie making heavy investments in his company and he takes a massive level in jerkass.
- Adaptational Jerkass: In the film, he really is having an affair.
- Foil: To Rachel. Like Rachel, Michael was middle-class, fell in love with a member of the Young family and struggled with being accepted into their circle. Unlike Rachel, Michael allowed his pain to get the better of him and ruin his marriage.
- Mistaken for Cheating: Invoked. He wanted to get out of his marriage with Astrid, so he had a relation of his send him salacious texts to make Astrid believe he was cheating on her.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: On the receiving end, as his brothers-in-law and father-in-law treat him like a servant.
- Your Cheating Heart: Subverted. He isn't actually cheating on Astrid, he's faking it so she'll ask for a divorce. The film plays it straight though.
Nick's father and Shang Su Yi's only son. Married to Eleanor Sung.
- Adapted Out: Omitted from the film entirely. It isn't too much of a stretch because he wasn't much of a presence in the novel anyways.
- Composite Character: In the film, he buys the Calthorpe hotel instead of Harry Leong.
- The Ghost: In the film.
- Nice Guy: Very much different from his wife.
- Only Sane Man: Tries his hardest to curb Eleanor and her friends' crazed prejudices over Rachel. It doesn't work.
- Outnumbered Sibling: Su Yi's only son.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Left Singapore for Australia because he didn't want to be caught up in the family squabbles. When he receives 30% of the shares in Tyersall Park after Su Yi dies, he gives them all to Nick (who was probably going to get them anyways) because he doesn't really care for the place, but he knows Nick does.
Eleanor Young, nee Sung
Played By: Michelle Yeoh
Philip's wife and Nick's mother.
- Big Entrance: In the second book, she shows up at Nick and Rachel's wedding in a helicopter to tell them that she approves of the match.
- The Heavy: The most active antagonistic force in Rachel and Nick's relationship throughout the first book and film.
- Meddling Parents: Very controlling of who Nick marries, though she says it's for his own good.
- Not So Different: Like Rachel, she was of a lower class than the Youngs and had to struggle with not being accepted by her potential mother-in-law.
- Parental Marriage Veto: Puts her foot down about Rachel and Nick's relationship because she considers Rachel beneath them and assumes that Rachel has been lying about her father. Subverted in the second book when she learns who Rachel's father is.
- Shipper on Deck: Pushes Amanda Ling and Francesca Shaw into trying to regain Nick's affections so Rachel won't have him.
- Villain Protagonist: The first book has several chapters of her trying to find dirt on Rachel.
Alexandra "Alix" Cheng, nee Young
Played By: Selena Tan
Shang Su Yi's youngest daughter. Married to Dr. Malcolm Cheng and mother of Edison (nicknamed Eddie), Cecilia and Alastair.
Edison "Eddie" Cheng
Played By: Ronny Chieng
A private banker, Alexandra and Malcolm's eldest son and older brother of Cecilia and Alastair. Married to Fiona Tung and father of Constantine, Kalliste and Augustine.
- Abusive Parents: Threatens to kill his son for getting his suit dirty.
- Arc Villain: For the first half of Rich People Problems when Su Yi is dying and Eddie is scheming to keep Nick from visiting her so that he (Eddie) can inherit the estate when he thinks Nick and Astrid are disgraced.
- Conspicuous Consumption: Loves flaunting his wealth and doesn't see the point of having money if you can't show that you have money.
- Demoted to Extra: He isn't as prominent in the film as he is in the books, where he has several chapters dealing with his point-of-view.
- Dreadful Musician: His performance of "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler for Shang Su Yi's funeral leaves much to be desired.
- Fat Bastard: He's noticeably gaining weight, and at one point splits his pants.
- In-Series Nickname: Everyone refers to him as "Eddie".
- Jerkass: Cares for nothing but his own status, wealth and appearance.
- Villainous Breakdown: After Su Yi's will is read and he doesn't really get anything but a pair of cuff links.
- Your Cheating Heart: He's a married man who keeps mistresses.
Played By: Remy Hii
Alexandra and Malcolm's younger son. At the beginning of the novels, he is dating a movie star named Kitty Pong.
- Adaptational Jerkass: He participates in the "revelries" at Colin's bachelor party in the film, and makes an insulting remark about Rachel that nearly makes Nick punch him.
- The Ditz: It's mentioned he isn't too bright, and barely scraped by at Columbia University.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Had the misfortune to give his heart to Kitty Pong.
- Pair the Spares: In the epilogue, he marries Peik Lin.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Inherits 10% of the shares in Tyersall Park.
Played By: Chris Pang
Nick's best friend from childhood. Engaged to Araminta Lee.
- Beneath the Mask: On the surface, Colin has a perfect life; he's wealthy, well-connected, pleasant company, and has a pretty and kind-hearted fiancé. However, he also suffers from an anxiety disorder and depression. Also counts as Broken Ace.
- Everyone Is Related: His mother is Harry Leong's sister, meaning that he and Astrid are first cousins.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Nick.
- Missing Mom: His mother died when Colin was still a child.
- Raised by Grandparents: Colin's grandmother helped raise him after his mother died.
Played By: Sonoya Mizuno
- Asian Airhead: Portrayed as such in the film, where she's so caught up in preparing for the wedding she fails to notice Rachel getting bullied by her friends.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Miscarries at least a couple times before she and Colin have a son in the epilogue.
- Spoiled Sweet: The heiress to a billion-dollar resort chain, and also cheery and welcoming towards Rachel.
Played By: Jimmy O. Yang
An old classmate of Nick and Colin's.
- Fat Bastard: The film version is noticeably chunkier than his classmates Nick and Colin, and much more unpleasant.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Neither Colin nor Nick can stand to be around him, and the only reason why he gets to plan Colin's bachelor party is because his father is a big shareholder in the Khoo business.
- The Hedonist: Loves living to excess.
- Jerkass: He was a bully while growing up, and when he plans Colin's bachelor party, it involves a whole lot of things that he'd like to do, not Colin. This includes dog fights.
- Magic Plastic Surgery: Subverted hard. In the second book he tries to get plastic surgery to look like Christian Bale, but the voice-activated machine mishears it and makes him look like Kristen Bell.
Played By: Tan Kheng Hua
Rachel's mother, who raised her as a single parent.
- Domestic Abuse: On the receiving end from her ex-husband Zhou Fang Min.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Left China for America when her husband's parents tried to pour acid in Rachel's eye.
- Self-Made Man: Made a respectable career out of real estate to support herself and Rachel, and managed to put Rachel through Stanford.
- Sympathetic Adulterer: Cheated on her husband Zhou Fang Min, who would abuse her. This resulted in Rachel's conception.
Bao Gaoliang, formerly Kao Wei
A Chinese politician and pharmaceutical billionaire.
Gaoling's wife and mother of Carlton.
Gaoliang and Shaoyen's son.
- Accidental Murder: Accidentally kills one of his passengers in a car crash and the other is left paralyzed.
- Cool Car: Makes a living by importing cool cars and selling them to his friends.
- Drives Like Crazy: Likes to race cars down busy streets, which results in at least one fatality.
- Long-Lost Relative: He's Rachel's half-brother.
Goh Peik Lin
Played By: Awkwafina
Rachel's best friend from college. She's the daughter of a very wealthy Singaporean real estate developer.
- The Fashionista: Loves to go shopping and also helps Rachel to look presentable at Nick's family events.
- Interclass Friendship: She's best friends with middle-class Rachel.
- Nouveau Riche: Her family's money is very new, thanks to her grandfather founded a successful real estate development company.
- Spoiled Sweet: She's very rich, but far from being a snob.
Kitty Pong, later Tai, then Bing, formerly Pong Li Li
Played By: Fiona Xie
An actress and Alistair Cheng's girlfriend.
- Ascended Extra: She's a minor character in the first book, but becomes more and more prominent as the books proceed.
- Bad "Bad Acting": She's not a very good actress, but she gets parts because Alistair is her boyfriend.
- Foil: To Rachel. She's the Gold Digger that most of the Young family thinks Rachel is.
- Gold Digger: Switches to a higher prospect when she sees one. In the present events, she goes from Alistair (the younger son of the Cheng family), to Bernard (only heir of his family), to Jack Bing (one of the richest men in China).
- Make-Out Kids: In the film, she and Alistair exuberantly kiss each other in almost every scene to the point of Running Gag.
- Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Becomes one once she gets rich. One example has her getting upset over a milliner who introduces himself to her, due to mistaking it as bragging himself as a millionaire, and she responds it with, "Well, I'm a billionaire!"
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: In the third book, she provides the last bit of money needed to outbid Jack Bing and allows Nick to save Tyersall Park from being torn down... all because she didn't want Colette to have a present.
- Sleeping Their Way to the Top: Got one of her first big breaks in the film industry after becoming the director's mistress, then worming her way into Alistair's affections.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Her son with Jack Bing is named Harvard.
Played By: Jing Lusi
A lawyer and daughter of Jacqueline Ling, Su Yi's goddaughter.
- Adaptational Villainy: In the film, she gets Francesca's scene where she has a gutted fish dumped in Rachel's quarters.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: In the film she's the most welcoming of the women at Araminta's bachelorette party (aside from Araminta herself), but instigates the actions against Rachel with the Dead Animal Warning.
- Karma Houdini: In the film, where she's a lot more malicious, she's never brought to book for the gutted fish message.
- Nepotism: Got a job with the Youngs because of her mother.
- Punch-Clock Villain: In the books, Nick gets the feeling that she feels sorry for the endless backstabbing to get his affections.
- Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: She's the Rich suitor to Rachel's Poor suitor because of her mother's connections to the Young family.
Played By: Harry Shum Jr.
An old flame of Astrid's. Married to Isabel and they have two daughters: Chloe and Delphine.
- Demoted to Extra: In the film, he only shows up in The Stinger at Nick and Rachel's engagement party.
- Didn't See That Coming: He had no idea that Michael would take his newfound wealth so poorly.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Gave Michael a big boost in business so he and Astrid would get back together. It doesn't work when Michael takes a level in jerkass and starts abusing Astrid and Cassian.
- New Old Flame: He was going to be married to Astrid but her parents forced Astrid to break off the match because his family wasn't Old Money. As Michael's personality takes a turn for the worse, Charlie and Astrid rekindle their relationship.
- Nouveau Riche: His family hasn't had their money for as long a time as the Leongs, and that put paid to his prior engagement with Astrid.
Colette Bing, Countess of Palliser.
A very famous socialite and fashion blogger in China, who's also the daughter of a Chinese multi-billionaire. Carlton's on-and-off girlfriend.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Her true colors come out when she mistakes Rachel's intention to respect Carlton's privacy as keeping her away from him.
- Blue Blood: In the third book, she marries a British-French nobility, making her a countess.
- Control Freak: Always wants everything to be perfect and done just as she exactly wants to.
- The Fashionista: She is China's top fashion blogger.
Played By: Carmen Soo
The daughter of one of Eleanor's friends Nadine Shaw and another young woman vying for Nick's hand.
- Dead Animal Warning: Leaves a gutted fish in Rachel's bed with a message: "Catch this you gold-digging cunt".
- Demoted to Extra: She's much less important in the film than in the book, with only one line in the all-paid shopping spree that's barely heard.
- Not So Different: Her actions after her grandfather wakes up from his coma show that she's as much of a Gold Digger as she thinks Rachel is, such as sleeping with a married man who dumps her, then marrying another man for his money.
- Rich Bitch: Not only she's snobbish, but she's also set out to basically make Rachel unwelcomed while she's in Singapore.
- Socialite: She attends various social events with her mother and they also show up a lot in society magazines.