Crazy Rich Asians: Henry Golding on becoming a leading man in his first film" width="976" height="549">
Henry Golding's first job as an actor just happened to be as leading man in a giant Hollywood romcom.So far, the film's made over $160m (The Black Panther of romcoms?
Constance Wu plays a woman visiting her boyfriend's parents for the first time - but he hasn't told her that he's from one of the richest families in Singapore
Crazy Rich Asians is "about family," Henry tells Newsbeat, adding: "It really is a love letter to south-east Asia."
The film's made headlines because of its cast, which is nearly all Asian. That's significant because studios have seemed reluctant in the past to let ethnic minorities front films, although that is changing with blockbusters like Black Panther and Wonder Woman."We knew the importance of what this film would be to a lot of people," Henry says."We worked as hard as possible to make it special, and prove everybody - especially the studios - that people of colour can tell amazing stories."
Ken Jeong, Constance Wu, Hanry Golding, Gemma Chan, Awkwafina and Jing Lusi
It looks like success has fallen to the 31-year-old star of the movie overnight - but he'd worked for years on screen before landing this role.Back in 2013, when the book of Crazy Rich Asians came out, Henry was "running around Malaysia or Japan filming travel shows".That was as a presenter on the BBC's Travel Show, based in Malaysia. Before that, he'd worked in a salon in London.
Director Jon M Chu learnt about Henry through an accountant
It was almost by accident that he ended up getting the film. The producers were, as he says, "four days from submitting the final number of actors to the head of studio" - when an accountant who had worked with him five years earlier suggested Henry's name to the film's director, Jon M Chu.He sent over an audition tape and was eventually cast as Nick Young.
Henry Golding on the Travel Show last year
Still a long way to go
The fact that the filmmakers "literally searched the globe" before finding him is a story Henry also uses to defend himself against criticism.He is half English and half Malaysian, which has led some people to question why a fully Asian man couldn't be found, given the character in the book isn't of English heritage."It's a justifiable conversation to be had. But I was the correct actor for this particular role," he says."The director looked at every single viable actor and none of them really brought what they needed to Nick Young. But I did."Henry adds that it's a well-worn argument."For everybody who is of mixed race... you're definitely not considered white."You need to take pride in where you're from. I'm neither half white nor half Asian. I'm full both."
Lisa Lu (centre) plays Henry's grandmother in the film. She was also in The Joy Luck Club 25 years ago - the last Hollywood film with a primarily Asian cast
While he's proud of his Asian heritage, he doesn't want this to just be known as an "Asian film"."Right now - very early days, where we need to be proud. Yes, this is an all-Asian contemporary story for the first time in 25 years".But "not even having to mention that it's Asian. That's where we all need to get to".
"Asian" is used the American way, to mean people of East and south-East Asian heritage, rather than from south Asia
East Asians still face their own stereotypes: the creepy genius, the geeky sidekick or the ninja warrior.They're not often seen as sexy or romantic leads - especially the men.This film tries to change that, with Henry and some of the other actors spending quite a bit of the film shirtless."It's hot in Singapore," he laughs. "You gotta take that top off."
He seems pretty comfortable with the attention - and it's partly why there are rumblings online for him to replace Henry Cavill as Superman.Or even Daniel Craig as James Bond?He laughs and says: "I mean... I'll represent the community as much as I can. "That would be an honour."
Blake Lively and Henry Golding play a married couple in A Simple Favour
Henry will next be seen as Blake Lively's husband in thriller A Simple Favour.And a sequel to Crazy Rich Asians, based on the book's sequel China Rich Girlfriend, has already been announced.But Henry - who still lives in Malaysia with his wife - is still catching up with his new leading man status."To be honest, my life hasn't changed much apart from more work," he says."I haven't had the moment to settle down and enjoy it." Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 every weekday on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra - if you miss us you can listen back here.
Race and ethnicity
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