Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond is coming to an end. Soon, it could be Henry Golding with the licence to kill.
The British-Malaysian star has catapulted to fame in recent years, with Crazy Rich Asians, A Simple Favor, Last Christmas and The Gentlemen seeing him become a borderline-household name.
His upcoming role is a departure from romcoms and crime thrillers, starring as the eponymous Snake Eyes; one of the most notable G.I. Joe characters, he’s a martial arts expert and master swordsman. Variety is the spice of Golding’s career, and it may be the secret ingredient to getting him in that tux.
Naturally, the actor had to undergo some ‘tremendous training’ in order to play Snake Eyes. ‘One of our stunt coordinators, Kenji Tanigaki, he does a show called Rurouni Kenshin… it is one of the most gripping samurai series available. To have a taste of what to expect, have a look towards that,’ he told UNILAD.
‘We trained predominantly with katanas, a lot of hand-to-hand combat… the sequences we built out were just on a scale, we wanted to push the level. We have massive fights in Los Angeles and Japan – people can expect huge combat sequences and everything that you love from a G.I. Joe movie.’
Some fans were apprehensive about a Snake Eyes movie, given the appeal of the character is his mystery. ‘There’s always an origin and this is an origin movie. He didn’t come out his mummy’s belly with a mask and not speaking, of course. I think they’re taking it a little bit too seriously in that sense, we want to tell his backstory so people can understand and fully love and enjoy this character,’ Golding said.
‘What happens down the line could be anyone’s guess. We’re not ruling out perhaps he loses his voice somehow – even then, many fans are sort of undecided. Is it the vow of silence? Is it the helicopter explosion that rips his vocal chords? For us, it was really important to endear Snake Eyes to a new group of fans around the world, make him approachable and relatable, I suppose, to everybody.’
Golding said he’s ‘always been in love with the sci-fi element of films, fantasy for me’ and feels a need to ‘make new stuff for people get excited about, make original stories and characters. When Keanu did John Wick, that was one of the first original IP in a long time that everybody went absolutely insane for. I want to push the boundaries in that sense’.
Of course, he wouldn’t be opposed to playing Snake Eyes again, should this film be successful enough to warrant a new cinematic universe. ‘This movie ends with you wanting more, and it’s definitely leading to something greater and bigger. We keep saying this, this is the origin of one particular character. Will there be more characters with their own movie? Of course, we hope so,’ he said.
As our interview draws to a close, we have to ask him about 007. For the past three years, Golding has been touted by fans as an interesting, exciting candidate for the next Bond, with Craig’s record-breaking time in the role concluding with No Time To Die in September.
He’s got the suave charm, a vote of confidence, the looks (when we mention the rave, if not ravenous response to the first image from Netflix’s Jane Austen adaptation Persuasion, he let out a rather knowing laugh) and evidently, the physicality for action.
‘It’s definitely an honour to be even considered in that conversation. It’s wonderful to understand that people are considering other identities and other people of colour for such an iconic role,’ he said.
‘It’s a conversation that should be had. I can’t wait for Daniel’s last hurrah and see it in all its glory in the cinema as it should be viewed. Where they take the series afterwards, I think it’s an exciting time not only for Eon and the producers and things.. I think the sky’s the limit for them. Who they choose… who knows? It’s fun to be in and around the conversation, but nobody is ever holding their breath.’
For now, he can confirm one thing: his favourite Bond. ‘Connery, gotta be. He just oozes that sex appeal that I think Bond is synonymous with,’ he said.
Golding wants to ‘run the gamut, find areas where I love working, telling these particular stories. Sometimes it’s the material that speaks out to you, like… that would be fun, that would be an amazing movie to have in my little collection of films I’ve been part of’.
‘To go from Crazy Rich Asians to The Gentlemen to Snake Eyes, it’s all collecting those DVD covers. It’s a weird thing to say, but I wanna look back on my filmography and be like… man, that was so much fun! The more varied the better,’ he concluded.
Snake Eyes hits cinemas this Wednesday, August 18.
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