If you told Henry Golding a few years ago that he’d become a Hollywood heartthrob the entire world will rave about, the then-travel TV host would’ve laughed.
But in 2018 the 31-year-old is one of the most talked about men in the film industry, thanks to his acting debut as the male lead in romantic comedy, Crazy Rich Asians.
Proud of his British-Malaysian heritage, Henry portrays the charming Nick Young in what is the first US studio film in 25 years to feature an all-Asian cast.
“Everyone finds something to latch onto,” he tells Be of the movie’s universal appeal.
“Whether it be the thematic of love, be it the fish out of water, the struggles with family or just the struggles of identifying with being Asian.”
It’s this concept of identifying as Asian that has sparked plenty of discussion in recent weeks, with some questioning Henry being cast to play a Singaporean man as he’s “not Asian enough”.
“That’s a fair enough conversation to have,” Henry tells Be from the Singapore premiere of Crazy Rich Asians.
“But I realised very recently that there’s going to be a whole generation of people who are going to be able to explain their identity by saying, ‘Oh I’m like Henry Golding. I’m mixed Asian, I’m mixed British’.
“To be honest with you it’s just about being proud of where you’re from and who you are,” continues the former BBC travel host.
“It doesn’t matter what other people think. For me, I was the right Nick Young. John scoured the entire globe for Nick Young and I just happened to fit the bill the best.”
Crazy Rich Asians shows Nick Young introduce his American-Chinese girlfriend Rachael Chu (Constance Wu) to his family and fortune, all the while exploring the Asian diaspora and giving Singapore the ultimate Hollywood treatment.
Director John. M Chu says he doesn’t regret his decision to cast Henry as part of his vision to bring Kevin Kwan’s famous book to life on the big screen.
“We had discussions about all the characters,” John tells Be.
“Can we have a Korean play a Chinese? It’s up to the artist to decide. I think it’s a fair game to have debates and discussion and we’ve had plenty of those.
“I talked to many of my journalist friends as we went through it and what I realised is I definitely had specific choices for someone like Rachel Chu,” he continues.
“I wanted a Chinese American. I wanted someone who speaks about being American and speaks about being Chinese. I wanted someone to really have that.
“For Nick Young specifically, when you see the movie, you know there’s no other person [but Henry]. I’ll show you all the auditions. He exactly fit.
“It’s a character very specific in the book that describes him being educated in the UK and having this sense of ease and charm.
“At that point once we saw him, it was like he is Nick Young. Even though we looked all around the world, he was in the place where Kevin Kwan said in the book he would be, which is Singapore.”
Also starring the likes of Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina, and Australia’s Chris Pang, Crazy Rich Asians opens in Australian cinemas on August 30.
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