Think of the top movies that were released in 2018 and Crazy Rich Asians will come to mind. An all-Asian cast brought Kevin Kwan’s world of extravagance and luxury to life as the world peeked into the lives of wealthy Asians in the bustling city of Singapore. Having Asian representation on the silver screen with stories centering Southeast Asian characters was definitely pivotal moment in the film industry. The last time Hollywood came across an Asian representated film was when Joy Luck Club was released… a whole 25 years prior to Crazy Rich Asians. With the latter grossing in at grossing at US$238.1 million (that’s close to a billion ringgit!), the film was a box office hit.
Leading man With an impressive cast consisting of Joy Luck Club’s Lisa Lu, Constance Wu, Ken Jeong, Gemma Chan, Sonoya Mizuno and our very own Michelle Yeoh, the breakout star of the film was none other than Sarawak-born Henry Golding. Born to an English father and Iban mother, the young Golding spent his early years in the eastern state of Terengganu before moving to Surrey, England.
We can thank this cross-continental move for his accent. With a voice as smooth as butter, one might think he picked it up at a posh boarding school in England (quite possibly how his Crazy Rich Asians character Nick Young got his) but as Golding tells GQ, “I grew up in a state school, which is your everyday school in the suburbs of the UK. No posh school at all. Not private schooled. I think I picked it up as I went along”
Malaysian Pride Although his accent may lead you to think otherwise, Henry is very much in touch with his Malaysian roots. He openly speaks out about his Iban heritage and has at least two tribal tattoos (he has a total of 9 tatts and counting) inked on his body. The most noticeable come in a pair of bunga terung on both sides of his shoulders, which is believed to provide strength to its wearer during bejalai — a traditional coming-of-age ceremony.
Henry completed this rite of passage while he was on an expedition with the Discovery Channel called Surviving Borneo where he samped wild boar liver and acquired his largest tattoo yet: a mix of dragon heads on his right thigh. Using the traditional hand tapping method, he tells Malaysia Tatler that the tribal tattoo “took 10 hours to complete”.
Road to stardomBefore his recent Hollywood fame, many Malaysians may recognise Henry on the smaller screen with his illustrious career as a tv personality and host. You might remember him from his first stint on television with the 8Tv Quickie and travel show Without Boundaries. Prior to that, Henry worked as a hair stylist in London before making his move back to Malaysia in 2008 at the tender age of 21. He still knows how to work his way around a hairdryer and even did his mother’s hair for the premier of Crazy Rich Asians. A man of many talents who makes time for his mother, cue the swoon!
It’s interesting to note that Henry Golding almost didn’t take up the role of Nick Young when the opportunity arose. Albeit with years of experience in front of the camera, the 31-year old was sure that the producers were looking for “someone else”, a “legitimate actor” to take on the role. Thankfully director Jon Chu was not going to let him get away that easily and convinced the first-time actor to come for an audition, and the rest they say is history.
Henry Golding, the film starSo what’s next for Henry Golding? With a rumoured sequel in the works, you’ll be pleased to know that the probability of seeing Henry reprise his role as the dashing Nick Young is highly likely. Aside from his breakout role, Henry has also starred across Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick in the thriller A Simple Favour and the new actor landed yet another lead role in Monsoon, an independent drama about a British-Vietnamese man returning to Saigon after the war (the film is now in post-production).
As of 2019, he is currently filming is Last Christmas, a romantic comedy starring alongside Emilia Clarke and Emma Thompson. According to his IMDb, a production with Guy Ritchie is in the works. Little is known about it as it’s still under wraps but what we do know is that he’ll be sharing the screen with Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant. We’re excited and so is he as Henry grew up watching Ritchie’s films, “the guy’s a legend!”. And with Henry’s dashing good looks, a voice as smooth as butter, a humble demeanor and newly minted acting chops, it’s safe to say Mr. Golding is working his way up to being one, too.
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