Stephanie Hsu’s queer storyline was cut from Joy Ride – but there’s still hope

Stephanie Hsu in a poofy brown, off the shoulder dress.

Joy Ride, the latest film by Oscar-nominated Everything Everywhere All At Once star Stephanie Hsu, almost had a queer plot – but it was left on the cutting room floor.

At this point, LGBTQ+ people are used to learning that some of our favourite films and characters came within an inch of a queer storyline. 

Earlier this year, mother-in-chief Sarah Michelle Gellar revealed that in the 2002 and 2004 Scooby Doo films, her character Daphne and the canonically queer Velma (Linda Cardellini) shared a kiss. Of course, it was cut.

Last year, director Taika Waititi revealed that his 2017 Marvel flick Thor: Ragnarok originally confirmed that superheroine Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) was bisexual, but the scene showing a woman leaving her apartment was chopped.

However, this isn’t a fate reserved for films of yesteryear, when directors were still afraid of LGBTQ+ representation.

Even in 2023, gay scenes are getting sliced. In February, skier-turned-actor Gus Kenworthy claimed that a “raunchy” kiss he was meant to lead in sports comedy film 80 for Brady was removed to appease “Middle America”.

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The latest film to apparently jump in head first with a queer plot, only to backtrack at a later date, is Stephanie Hsu’s comedy film Joy Ride.

Joy Ride stars Emily In Paris actress Ashley Park as Audrey Sullivan, an adopted, law firm employee, who has to travel from the US to China to close a business deal – with the promise of a promotion if she succeeds.

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She’s joined by close pal Lolo Chen (Sherry Cola) and Lola’s zany, K-Pop obsessed cousin Deadeye (Sabrina Wu). While in China, they meet Kat (Stephanie Hsu), Audrey’s former roommate and now a famous actor. It turns out to be the most chaotic trip possible, featuring forced cocaine inhalation, sex with basketball stars, and some flashing on Instagram Live.

In an interview with Collider, Hsu and Wu revealed that Hsu’s character Kat was actually originally supposed to have “a little gay” subplot with Cola’s Lola.

While praising the cast’s impeccable improvisation skills, Wu revealed that “there was so much electric magic happening between Stephanie and Sherry”.

“It was, like, a little gay. It was awesome,” Wu said.

Stephanie Hsu, Ashley Park, Sabrina Wu and Sherry Cola in Joy Ride.
Stephanie Hsu, Ashley Park, Sabrina Wu and Sherry Cola in Joy Ride. (Lionsgate Movies)

Clarifying the slightly vague comments, Hsu added: “There’s a whole gay track between Sherry’s character and my character that kind of got edited.”

Considering Hsu gave fans one of the best, queerest performances of 2022, with her sapphic, double-sided anti-hero Joy Wang/Jobu Tupaki in the Oscar-sweeping hit Everything Everywhere All At Once, it’s a shame the plotline didn’t make the final edit.

Hope is not entirely lost, though, as Hsu explained that they’d like to revisit the plot in any potential sequel.

“[It] will be saved for the sequel, but Sherry is livid about it,” Hsu said.

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“It needs to happen in the sequel!” Wu echoed.

Joy Ride, which currently has a staggering 92 per cent approval rate on Rotten Tomatoes, is helmed by Crazy Rich Asians director Adele Lim.

It is available to watch in US cinemas now, and will land in UK cinemas on 4 August.

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