Henry Golding Reflects on His Career and How He Feels About Playing Asian Characters

Henry Golding, known for playing Nick Young in the hit 2018 movie Crazy Rich Asians, stars in a new production for Netflix titled Persuasion. Here’s what he had to say about his latest project and how the celebrity feels about playing Asian characters.

Henry Golding in ‘Persuasion’

Henry Golding poses with a beverage.
Henry Golding | Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Hennessy

Persuasion is a modern adaptation of the last novel Jane Austen completed. Golding plays the role of Mr. Elliot, alongside actors Dakota Johnson and Cosmo Jarvis. He is not the romantic lead, but he doesn’t seem to mind.

“It was so much fun, because it gives you so much more room to play, and you know you’re not gonna end up with the girl at the end, so you can kind of ham it up, almost — to enjoy and sort of wriggle and writhe within those scenes where he’s trying to be schmoozy, and trying to seduce her and then turn her to the dark side,” he tells InStyle.

Henry Golding on playing Asian characters

Golding says he has had the opportunity to play roles that represent different types of Asian characters. He’s grateful that he has been able to take on these projects.

“To be honest, it’s always wonderful to be able to play proudly Asian characters on screen, but I think it’s wholly important that Asians get to play non-racially distinct characters because that’s where we see the progression, where we see a sense of normality to have faces like ours on screen,” he tells InStyle.

Golding says it’s important to him that not all of his roles focus on the fact that the character is Asian. He also welcomes roles where race isn’t front and center.

“[It’s] not having to highlight or explain a character’s backstory, like, ‘Oh yeah, his mom was Asian,’ or, ‘He comes from this long line of people who derived from this,’ it’s kinda like, ‘Yeah, this is him. This is his name.’ We don’t need to force it down. I think if we’re fighting for representation on screen, you’re gonna get to a stage where representation doesn’t matter. It becomes normal.”

Henry Golding’s movies and TV shows

One of Golding’s first acting roles was in the 2009 film Gold Diggers. In 2013, he appeared in The Borneo Incident. Golding’s career took off after he starred in the 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians alongside actor Constance Wu. That year he also appeared in the film A Simple Favor. Some of Golding’s other movies include appearances in Monsoon, Last Christmas, and Snake Eyes.

Before becoming an actor, Golding was a hairstylist. He didn’t originally set out to become an actor.

 “My first passion was hairdressing, and working in that industry in London from the age of 15 instilled at the early stages gratitude and empathy for others,” Golding tells Town & Country.

Golding says he’s confident he could still enjoy life even if his stardom went away. He built a life for himself before he became famous, and he believes he could move on if the roles stopped coming.

“I’ve lived a really beautiful existence in a way that I’m so grateful for, being able to have experiences in different levels of life. It gives me a sense of reality. Like, if all of this went away, I think I’d be OK. I was something else before, I could be something else again.”

What’s next for Henry Golding

Golding is currently filming The Old Guard 2, which also stars Charlize Theron. He’s also filming The Tiger’s Apprentice. Both films are set for a 2024 release.

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