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Henry Golding on 'The Gentlemen,' 'Crazy Rich Asians' & Working w/ Matthew McConaughey | MTV News


{an8}- My story really began in a place like this {an8}I was working in a barber shop from the age of 14, 15

{an8}Essentially, it was just sweeping up hair {an8}and listening to these three barbers talk rubbish all day {an8}(laughs) Yeah {an8}- [Josh] Were you really good at your job? {an8}Like how, I mean, {an8}could you have made a go of it as a career? {an8}- I would say, that they would say I had potential {an8}(laughs) {an8}But I think dreams and aspirations often get in the way {an8}of what some would say potential is {an8}And so, I followed my dreams to Malaysia {an8}to work in television

{an8}- [Josh] We've been talking just the last couple years, {an8}and it feels like a long time, {an8}but it's like 18 months, basically, we're talking about {an8}- Weirdly, yeah – 18 months ago was before {an8}'Crazy Rich Asians' came out, {an8}and to look at what you've accomplished {an8}in that time is insane {an8}You know, {an8}'Crazy Rich Asians,' obviously a phenomenon, {an8}working with the likes of Paul Feig, {an8}and Blake Lively, and Anna Kendrick, {an8}Matthew McConaughey and Guy Ritchie {an8}in 'The Gentleman' – [Henry] I know, crazy

{an8}- [Josh] Not to mention, Emilia Clarke {an8}and Paul, again, in 'Last Christmas' {an8}Does it feel like it's been 10 years? {an8}One year? One day? {an8}What's the last two years been like for you? {an8}- Weirdly, it feels like a lifetime {an8}I've become attuned to it, {an8}and used to the absurdities {an8}that I've been sort of given {an8}Like, for instance, I would never have imagined {an8}being on the streets of Brooklyn with {an8}Hugh Grant, Charlie Hunnam, {an8}Matthew McConaughey– – Right {an8}- Eating pizza

(laughs) {an8}Do you know what I mean? {an8}- Right {an8}- Who sees that in their future? {an8}- Only a mad man, right? – A mad man, yes {an8}A mad man or a filmmaker {an8}- Yeah (laughs) {an8}- And so, I think part of what has lead me {an8}to be able to kind of take it somewhat {an8}in my stride, {an8}is the ability to kind of adapt to it

{an8}- Yup – And understand that {an8}you can either {an8}look at it as a one-hit gift, {an8}and 'Crazy Rich Asians' was it {an8}That's where you're gonna pop off, {an8}or, are you gonna run with {an8}what you love to do? {an8}- And clearly, you've been very strategic {an8}and smart and yet, {an8}also, honoring your instincts {an8}in these early choices {an8}You're doing the leading man stuff, {an8}and you're owning that, {an8}and then you pop up in this, like, {an8}kinda crazy, {an8}Guy Ritchie, weird, {an8}dark, nasty man, {an8}that's like a character role {an8}For anyone that loves Guy Ritchie stuff, {an8}this is kind of, like, old-school Guy Ritchie, {an8}it's 'Lock Stock,' it's 'Snatch,' {an8}it's in that vein

– Hugely {an8}- A great ensemble {an8}I mean, you get to go toe-to-toe {an8}with some amazing actors, {an8}most notably Matthew McConaughey {an8}- Yeah (laughs) {an8}- So, is it sort of like, {an8}the confidence that you've accumulated {an8}in these first few films {an8}gives you that boost {an8}when you're sitting toe-to-toe {an8}with Matthew, that you know you can {an8}hold your own? {an8}'Cause this guy has an Oscar– {an8}- No, I was (beep)ing my pants, Josh! {an8}What are you talking about? (laughs) {an8}- I don't know, you tell me

{an8}(laughs) {an8}- No, I was terrified {an8}You'd be a fool not to be – Yeah {an8}- I just remember thinking, {an8}"Holy (beep), {an8}that's Matthew McConaughey" {an8}(laughs) {an8}And then, you know, you get back to it {an8}and it's, you know, it's professional {an8}and it was one of the greatest little moments {an8}that I've had so far

{an8}- As long as you can snap back into {an8}the acting, you're fine {an8}- Yeah, of course, but– {an8}- If you're lost in {an8}- You give yourself just that little {an8}micro couple seconds, {an8}because at the end of the day, {an8}if you're not a fan of what we're creating, {an8}and you're not a fan of cinema, {an8}why are you doing it? – Right

{an8}- You know what I mean? {an8}You gotta be able to geek out, {an8}you gotta get excited about the love {an8}and your passion, so, {an8}I'm just passionate about it, {an8}I love it {an8}- So, take me back for second, {an8}I know you've told the story many times, {an8}but getting 'Crazy Rich Asians,' {an8}which was your film debut, {an8}like, had you been auditioning {an8}for things prior to that? {an8}- So, I was doing a lot of {an8}investigatory kind of travel shows, {an8}and working for news channels, {an8}and the BBC, {an8}and there were always, like, {an8}dramatic productions {an8}that were happening in Malaysia {an8}and Singapore {an8}And I had, like, a couple little cameos {an8}as, sort of, Henry the presenter, {an8}in a movie {an8}- You've established yourself enough {an8}as a celebrity in your own right– {an8}- Exactly, {an8}it was like, you know, a little cameo, {an8}a little nod, it was like, {an8}"Oh yeah there's Henry, whatever" {an8}- Yeah

{an8}- But never as a serious sort of, {an8}as an actor {an8}And so, when the call came from Jon, {an8}my head was still in that space, {an8}of like, "No I'm a presenter," {an8}I'm like, {an8}there are so many more deserving {an8}individuals out there {an8}Especially young men of my heritage, {an8}of Asian, {an8}going up for such an iconic role {an8}And I have a lot of respect for people {an8}who dedicate themselves to their craft, {an8}and so, I didn't think I deserved it {an8}And I was like, "No, no, no, {an8}"I want to take out a year {an8}"to really hone my craft {an8}"and deserve a role like that

" {an8}- Right {an8}- But, then of course, {an8}that's not how it went down {an8}- Doesn't in reality works {an8}- No! (laughs) {an8}- When the opportunity comes– {an8}- Yeah, Jon got on Skype, {an8}gave me, pretty much, a virtual slap in the face, {an8}and was like, {an8}"What are you doing? {an8}We're coming to you with this amazing opportunity" {an8}He literally, like, shook me, {an8}and I just realized, I was like, "Holy crap, {an8}"I've gotta change my mindset {an8}"I have to switch my thinking {an8}"into thinking that I'm not worthy of it" {an8}The first couple days on set were terrifying

{an8}A week before you go in to principal shooting, {an8}you have costume tests {an8}- Right {an8}- And so my first day, {an8}and that was my first ever day in front of, {an8}sort of, a Hollywood camera as such, {an8}I was terrified {an8}And I didn't know what to do with my hands {an8}And I kept thinking, {an8}any minute now they're gonna pull me aside {an8}and then be like, {an8}"Henry, this isn't working out

{an8}"We're gonna have to replace you" {an8}And I was waiting for Jon to do that {an8}And I kept, like, nervously {an8}asking him, I was like, "Hey so how is it?" {an8}(laughs) {an8}- "Uh, am I doing alright?" {an8}- "Looks pretty good, huh?" {an8}(laughs) {an8}- "You're definitely not going to {an8}"fire me are you?" (laughs) {an8}- Oh yeah Like, "Everything looks awesome, right? {an8}"Right?" (laughs) {an8}And it wasn't until the first or second day, {an8}where I started owning it, {an8}and I started realizing, {an8}if I don't take control {an8}of my character, {an8}and my performance, {an8}it'll be weaker than if I did {an8}- So, in the wake of 'Crazy Rich Asians,' {an8}there were so many great conversations {an8}that came out of it, {an8}so many records broken

{an8}And one of the conversations that came about, {an8}was, you know, {an8}is Henry Golding "Asian enough" {an8}to play this character? {an8}- Yeah {an8}- Was that something that caught you off guard? {an8}- It's something I've had to, kind of, {an8}struggle with for most of my life {an8}And I think identity is what we all {an8}search and yearn for, {an8}and I don't think we ever stop looking at ourselves {an8}and trying to place ourselves {an8}- Did you have a strong sense of your own {an8}cultural identity growing up? {an8}Your mom Malaysian, {an8}your dad British? {an8}- Hugely {an8}I knew the importance of both {an8}elements and both sides to it

{an8}I knew that without my Asian heritage, {an8}I wouldn't have the ethos {an8}and the structure {an8}of, kind of, my decision making {an8}and respect values, {an8}and cultural values {an8}And so, when it came to {an8}people questioning, it was like, {an8}"Oh, yeah he's not Asian enough" {an8}I'm like, "But I grew up in {an8}"the jungles of Borneo" {an8}- What more do you want? (laughs) {an8}- (laughs) How Asian do you need? {an8}I come from one of the world's oldest tribes, {an8}you know, {an8}there's only so much you can {an8}explain until you're blue in the face {an8}And so, I took the stance of like, {an8}I didn't want to over explain

{an8}- Well, and also, when we start to get {an8}into, kind of like, what's your test? {an8}Like, everyone has a different litmus test, {an8}like, who are we trying to please here? {an8}- Yeah {an8}Are you Asian enough if you've only {an8}ever lived in America {an8}but come from an Asian family {an8}who've never been to or {an8}experienced Asian culture? {an8}Or are you more Asian if you're Asian {an8}and moved to America, or? {an8}It's an endless conversation

{an8}- Yes {an8}So, I wanna talk about some influences growing up, {an8}'cause my sense is that you were into {an8}a lot of the kinda stuff that many of us were, {an8}I was, comic books– {an8}- Yeah {an8}- And I know, like, 'Matrix'– {an8}- The 'Uncanny X-Men,' {an8}that I loved to watch on a Saturday morning {an8}- So cartoons, comics, everything {an8}I hear 'Matrix' blew your mind– {an8}- Hugely

{an8}- When you were, what, 12 years old {an8}you would've been when you saw that, right? {an8}- Yeah Um, 13, because I had to wait {an8}until it was out on VHS {an8}(laughs) {an8}Which I received at midnight {an8}at Christmas, {an8}'cause my brother, {an8}we were allowed to open one Christmas present, {an8}and that was the present he thrust into my arms {an8}He was like, "You're gonna want to open this" {an8}- So, did you end up just, sort of, {an8}like imitating Keanu, {an8}and doing all the moves, everything? {an8}- To be honest, it wasn't that {an8}that blew me away

{an8}It was the idea of a reality beyond our own {an8}We're living in a simulation {an8}- Yeah, for a 13 year old that's like, {an8}yeah, exactly! (laughs) {an8}- Just like, my mind was like, {an8}"What the hell happened?" {an8}But I like it {an8}- What were like, the top three comics, {an8}cartoons and stuff that you were obsessed with? {an8}- So, I used to follow 'X-Men' {an8}I used to, I have a couple of, {an8}interestingly, 'G

I Joe,' {an8}'Transformers' {an8}The intersection just blew me away {an8}I couldn't even imagine both these realities {an8}existing in one comic {an8}So I used to follow that

{an8}The usual anime, um, 'Akira,' {an8}- Yeah, I heard you were a, 'Cowboy Bebop,' you were into {an8}- Yeah, 'Cowboy Bebop' was humongous {an8}- So, the good news– {an8}- General fan {an8}- There's a lot of cool things about that, {an8}obviously {an8}So, you're in the middle of shooting {an8}'Snake Eyes,' – Yeah

{an8}- Which is mind blowing, {an8}that, like, this is a character that we've seen, {an8}but we've never seen, like, a full-fledged {an8}movie of his own – Yes {an8}- As a fan, what's the tone? {an8}What's the thing that's gonna honor {an8}that character in this one? {an8}- This brings an interesting sort of subject of {an8}how do you represent such an iconic {an8}character like that? {an8}And how do you do justice to {an8}the infinitely genius creations {an8}of other people like Hama {an8}and all of the comic book writers? {an8}Do you follow the Snake Eyes {an8}that was created in Southeast Asia, {an8}with, you know, Stalker and Storm Shadow {an8}in Vietnam who has the helicopter accident? {an8}Or, do you follow the vow of silence Snake Eyes {an8}from the Arashikage? {an8}Or, do you have another reality, {an8}Or, do you have another reality, {an8}in which we're sort of trying to create? {an8}And all of them are very different {an8}but at the same time, they're paying homage {an8}to this iconic character {an8}- So you're trying to keep elements of all– {an8}- Absolutely {an8}- to honor the essence of the character

{an8}- But, also, we want to do justice {an8}to the old-time fans, {an8}but we wanna create a new following as well {an8}We wanna have the ability to {an8}inspire a 10-year-old in 2020 {an8}to love this franchise and reinvigorate it {an8}- I thought you were gonna say inspire a kid {an8}to be a ruthless ninja (laughs) {an8}- I didn't wanna say that because that would be {an8}advocating violence there (laughs) {an8}- No, but I gotcha, yeah

(laughs) {an8}- There will definitely (laughs) {an8}be a few kids throwing shurikens– {an8}- Oh, totally {an8}- Here, there and everywhere {an8}- So, how would you describe the action? {an8}I mean, this is a new aspect for you {an8}- The action is insane {an8}You might have watched this series, {an8}but there's a series of movies {an8}called 'Rurouni Kenshin

' {an8}- I haven't {an8}- 'Samurai X' is the anime {an8}- Okay {an8}- So, the choreographer of 'Rurouni Kenshin' {an8}is our choreographer on this {an8}And he is one of {an8}the greatest martial arts choreographers

{an8}He was Donnie Yen's right-hand man for the longest time {an8}He worked with Jackie Chan {an8}He's worked with Michelle Yeoh, {an8}in Hong Kong for years, {an8}in Japanese for years {an8}And so, we have an authenticity to this, {an8}which no one will have ever seen {an8}in a 'GI

Joe' franchise ever {an8}- Oh my god {an8}- And the amount of physical stunts {an8}that we do, outweigh that of any of the CGI, {an8}so generally speaking, {an8}it's all physical stunts {an8}- Easy on you (laughs) {an8}- Yeah

(laughs) {an8}I've had a few injuries, {an8}I'm not gonna lie {an8}We're halfway through {an8}I blew out my hip {an8}I tore my quad {an8}My meniscus, like, tore

{an8}And so we've been put through the ringer {an8}to bring a real tenacity to this character, {an8}and do him justice {an8}But, you've got to understand, {an8}this is the period of Snake Eyes' life {an8}that he's still learning {an8}that he's still learning {an8}- Right, it's an origin story, yeah {an8}- It's an origin story

{an8}Which, I think, builds a greater narrative {an8}because everybody knows Snake Eyes {an8}as the weapon, and you know, {an8}they've had glimpses of him {an8}training with Arashikage, {an8}and with Tommy, {an8}and you see him at a stage of his life {an8}where he's still susceptible, {an8}and he's still volatile in a sense {an8}- Right {an8}I couldn't be more excited {an8}Also, the good news is that like, {an8}despite playing, like, {an8}this awesome comic book character, {an8}you haven't given up your {an8}Marvel DC eligibility {an8}I mean, you still are open {an8}to those universes

{an8}- Of course {an8}- So, the latest is, you know, {an8}they were talking, {an8}obviously you were mentioned, {an8}people were like, "Oh, Shang-Chi," {an8}Now people are like, "Namor" {an8}Have you seen the fan art {an8}and stuff around that? {an8}Is that something that's intriguing? {an8}- You could never tell {an8}that we're in New York, could you? {an8}- No (laughs) {an8}- With the sirens! (laughs) {an8}- Authenticity always {an8}The sirens! – It adds to it! {an8}- Is Namor a character that's of any appeal? {an8}- In the UK we call him Namor

(laughs) {an8}- Oh, I'm sorry (laughs) {an8}Namor {an8}- You're right {an8}Um, no, he is one of my favorite characters {an8}in the Marvel Universe {an8}because he straddles his own world {an8}He's not a villain

{an8}He's not a hero {an8}He's an anti-hero, {an8}in much of a sense {an8}His, sort of, goals lie within {an8}protecting the Atlanteans, his people {an8}And so, whatever stands in that way, {an8}whatever is putting that at risk, {an8}that is his enemy {an8}- Right

{an8}- And I think, from my understanding {an8}at the moment, {an8}Wakanda is the greatest threat {an8}to his existence {an8}- Right, that's the world– {an8}- Which I love, {an8}- He would be the villain of Black Panther, yeah {an8}- And so he becomes the anti-hero {an8}- So, have you had any actual conversations? {an8}- No, of course not No, no, no, no

{an8}(laughs) {an8}No, but again, I'm a big fan {an8}There was, I'll tell you a story {an8}I was on a flight to film 'The Gentlemen,' {an8}and I look over and there's a dude {an8}with a baseball cap, {an8}and I'm like, {an8}"He looks kinda familiar," {an8}and I look over like, {an8}"(beep) me, that's Kevin Feige" {an8}(laughs) {an8}"Holy crap!" {an8}I was just like, "No, it's not" {an8}And I was like, {an8}there's no right time to sort of say hello, {an8}and so we went through the flight, {an8}and it was just as we left, {an8}I was like, "Look, I just wanted to say thank you

" {an8}- Right {an8}- "I've followed and so has everybody else {an8}"for so many years, {an8}"this anthology of amazing characters, {an8}"this anthology of amazing characters, {an8}"and I'm excited for what you guys have {an8}"for the next chapter" {an8}And he was like, {an8}"Oh, we've got so much planned" {an8}And I'm excited for what they do {an8}If I'm a part of it, even better, {an8}but, you know what? {an8}As a longtime fan, I'm grateful {an8}they're still making them

{an8}- Going forward, {an8}it sounds like from what I've heard, {an8}you started your own production company {an8}- Mm-hmm {an8}- It seems like it's important to you to balance, {an8}correct me if I'm wrong, {an8}in terms of, you've been cast {an8}in a bunch of roles that are colorblind, {an8}especially like Paul Feig, et cetera, {an8}right? {an8}But it's also important to you {an8}to honor your heritage, {an8}honor your culture {an8}Is that a balance that's going to be {an8}important for you going forward? {an8}- I think I have to have that {an8}in my, sort of, hemisphere of my decision making {an8}- Right

{an8}- Because, it's an undeniable fact {an8}And so, I would be a fool {an8}not to try the best I can to help, {an8}I suppose, broaden that horizon {an8}- Sure {an8}- But, is it steering me to make decisions {an8}that I might not make if I was just {an8}a normal actor? {an8}I don't wanna go after just Asian roles {an8}just because I am Asian {an8}I want to break that barrier {an8}and normalize the fact that I'm Asian

{an8}And have these characters be Asian {an8}but not overexplained {an8}But, when it comes to what decisions {an8}I'm making for making movies, {an8}I wanna make fun, outrageous characters {an8}that I can look back on and say, {an8}"Holy crap, that was a fun time!" {an8}Shooting a Guy Ritchie film or– {an8}- I was gonna say, Dry Eye, fits the bill {an8}- Dry Eye Yeah, Dry Eye's up there {an8}- From the first second you see him on screen

{an8}I'm glad today we got a bit more of the {an8}'Last Christmas' charm, {an8}than the Dry Eye charm {an8}(laughs) – Yeah, yeah {an8}- Charming in his own right, {an8}but not the kind of guy I wanna hang out with in a hair salon {an8}- Yeah (laughs)

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