To actors who have not made the big time, working in Hollywood may seem as unattainable as getting to Utopia.
But Singapore-based Malaysian-British actor Henry Golding has did it – that is, nabbing a meaty leading role in not just one Hollywood flick but two (more on that later) – and that is pretty amazing for a guy who just turned 30 this year.
Henry recently forayed into a forest, literally, for Discovery Channel’s Surviving Borneo, where he gets in touch with his Iban tribe roots and go on a coming-of-age journey before marrying hawt TV host Liv Lo.
Before you think this guy is spoiling the job market, he tells us that it takes lots of calculated steps to succeed in work and life. Pray share your tips, Henry.
8 DAYS: You reconnected with the Iban half of your lineage on Surviving Borneo in a coming-of-age ritual called bejalai. What did you learn from the experience?
HENRY GOLDING: [Bejalai is done before marriage], and we filmed the show last year before I got married [to TV host Liv Lo]. The biggest lesson I learnt from the experience was about discomfort. I’ve been in jungles and disaster areas [like Tacloban in the Philippines [after 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan], but to live in a jungle for an extended period of time and eat things that we hunted was the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced. It was very claustrophobic. I couldn’t see the sky ’cos I was under a tree canopy all the time, and I couldn’t sit anywhere and I had to kind of just trot around ’cos there were creepy crawlies all around.
So how Bear Grylls are you now?
I’d say I’ll be able to survive for at least a while! I can definitely make do with what I have. You don’t necessarily need protein to survive in the jungle, if you forage enough carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins from plants.
Speaking of being out of your comfort zone, you branched out from TV hosting to acting in the Hollywood rom-com Crazy Rich Asians.
I’ve always wanted to get into acting but never found the right time. I don’t think there is ever a right time, but I knew deep down that I was mentally prepared and I was ready to give anything a shot. It was scary as hell, but so rewarding and I absolutely loved it.
Has Crazy Rich Asians open more doors for you in Hollywood?
Yes, in a sense. It definitely puts you in the spotlight, and then it really comes down to whether you can deliver the goods. There is a lot of business consideration involved in Hollywood. Do people want to work with you? Are you easy to work with? Are you friendly and approachable? You can be a fantastic actor but if people don’t want to work with you, then you’re not going to get work.
You’re now shooting A Simple Favour, a mystery thriller by Ghostbusters director Paul Feig. You play Blake Lively’s husband. You’re on a roll!
It’s been one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had, meeting fantastic people. [Crazy Rich Asians director] Jon Chu has become like a brother to me. And Paul Feig is such a gentleman. I have been really working harder [as a newcomer] in this industry! It’s long hours and I have to be away from my wife Liv. But I hope to continue to keep going on that roll. I have found a new passion and I absolutely love it.
Surviving Borneo just ended on Discovery Channel (Singtel TV Ch 202 & StarHub Ch 422), 9pm. You can catch up on Education on Demand (StarHub Ch 400); Crazy Rich Asians opens in cinemas next August.
Photos: Fly Entertainment/Clarence Aw (main); Discovery Channel