Aafter shooting Crazy Rich Asians and A simple favor In 2017, two big studio productions that would turn him into an international star, Malaysian-British actor Henry Golding was stuck in career limbo as these business cards were still not released. “A lot of people hadn’t seen any of my work. It was a very interesting time to have all this material but to wait a year for something to actually be seen, ”he told The Daily Beast.
It was precisely at this moment that a casting director made him aware of the existence of Hong Khaou. Monsoon, a project with great parallels with its own history. Golding, born to a Malaysian mother and a British father, left South East Asia as a young boy and only returned several years later as an adult. In turn, the film follows Kit, a gay man of Vietnamese descent returning to Ho Chi Minh City for the first time in several decades after he and his family emigrated to the UK during the fallout from the American War. Golding immediately wanted to land the role.
Rigorous auditions and an in-person meeting with Khaou later, he was chosen. Based on the debut feature by the Cambodian-British director Cadenced, about the language barrier between an immigrant mother and her son’s boyfriend, Golding was certain Monsoon would serve as a palette cleaner for Hollywood concerts to his credit. It was also an opportunity to collaborate with a thoughtful artist to create a subdued character struggling with a conflicting worldview.
“You have so much more voice control when it comes to independent filmmaking. You are really part of the decision making as much as possible. And you can kind of see the inner workings that make a movie, ”he explains.
Back in his hometown, Kit begins to put together memories of the little he remembers from his Vietnamese childhood and what others share with him. The main purpose of his return is to lay the ashes of his parents in their homeland, but in doing so, the past he thought he had buried confronts him. He barely recognizes the city, doesn’t speak the language, is treated like a foreign tourist, and yet there is a glimpse of familiarity.
Like Kit, the actor felt that sense of identity in anticipation, of feeling safe in who he is culturally only to realize, when visiting his home country, that he doesn’t fit in anywhere. .
“This is something that I struggled with as a young man and this is reflected in Kit’s journey, the fact that when I returned to Malaysia, after living in the UK and there Growing up until I was 21, I thought I was going to be greeted with warm hands and feel completely at home and be at peace in Malaysia, ”the actor offers. “But when I got home I felt so insane. I was so confused about what was going on. I didn’t understand the language and the cultural differences were huge. ”
According to Golding, the people he meets make the protagonist’s painful excursion into his legacy more rewarding. “The three main characters Kit finds have different windows on life,” he noted. Kit Lee’s cousin (David Tran) fills in the gaps in his early years in Vietnam before leaving. Linh (Molly Harris), a young tour guide, represents the future. “She belongs to a generation that does not want to be linked to war. She doesn’t want to be seen as a survivor, ”he adds.
Meanwhile, Lewis (Parker Sawyers), a black American man who Kit meets on a dating app, is the son of an American GI, in Vietnam to fix his father’s mistakes – his motive strongly echoing that of Spike’s Lee. Da Five Bloods. Nonetheless, an unanswered question prevails in Kit’s mind, and at the same time in Golding, even with the insight drawn from unexplored emotional exploration: Who is he?
“Are we a product of our nationality or are we a product of our cultural identity? You might be Vietnamese, but growing up in America you consider yourself American. Or you could have an American father, a Vietnamese mother, but you were born in Vietnam, and therefore culturally you are Vietnamese and you feel Vietnamese. It really depends on the individual’s background, ”asks Golding.
As a person who has taken up residence in various countries of the world, the idea of a homeland is not so clear to the charming thesp: “All of us, as human beings, have this inner urge to accomplish a so-called prophecy. homeland, but does it exist? I do not think so. It boils down to where your loved ones are, where your home is. Where’s the living room where your parents hang out, watch TV, and just be at peace with each other? It feels more like coming home than anything else to me now.
“I will never be Asian enough for a lot of people, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling Asian.“
In Monsoon, Kit finds refuge from the turmoil within, as he comes to terms with the parts of his Vietnamese background that have almost disappeared over time, in romance. Khaou shows it in its best light when Lewis is around, arguing that far from being an unresolved issue, being part of the LGBTQ community strengthens and reassures him. This is his truth, even though every other piece of who he is seems in trouble.
“It was definitely by design. Hong has this nice way of creating subtleties on screen. One of the niceties was the character’s sexuality. It was his one thing that he was so sure, so sure that it had become a place of comfort. He felt like him when he was on a date with someone, or when he was in a hug, ”Golding says.
Society’s need for labels, he believes, remains one of the reasons people struggle to identify a compelling and clearly defined group to belong to. Golding still has a large family in Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia, and admits that when he visits them he still feels a little ashamed because he is not fluent in Malay and cannot communicate with his grandfather. father or his cousins - perhaps another connection point for him and Khaou Cadenced.
“It’s such a frustration and makes me feel less than the Asian I think I am. Culturally, it’s something that a lot of Asian Americans experience here and when they return to the so-called homeland, it’s just a very different feeling. Nevertheless, he more or less accepted the idea of living a life with a link, a life between cultures: “I will never be Asian enough for a lot of people, but it doesn’t stop I feel Asian. . ”
An advantage he had on the set of Monsoon was his experience as a travel host for the BBC, which had taken him to Vietnam on several occasions. This meant he was used to the overwhelming sensory barrage of Southeast Asia and could take advantage of the food offerings in one of the most dynamic regions on the planet. But more importantly, during his time in Malaysia and Singapore, Golding had witnessed monsoons firsthand, so the film’s title spoke to him rather poetically compared to his grieving character.
“When a monsoon hits, the streets are just flooded and cleaned of all the dirt, trash, everything. It’s almost that feeling of rebirth. For the movie, that’s exactly what Kit is going through. He is almost going through a renaissance, ”he says fiercely. “The only way you can cleanse yourself is the Flood, go through something so emotionally hard and beat those demons, let go of whatever is attached to what you assumed.” That’s what Monsoon looks like me. “
At the dawn of even greater opportunities, Golding’s name has been mentioned among those who could potentially become the next James Bond. Nice looks, a deep, manly voice, and that distinctively British elegance are on his side, but he’d rather not indulge (or cheat) media wishlists. “He’s a character with a great story. Whatever decisions they make, they will be exciting for the fans. Count on me as a huge fan. I can’t wait to see Daniel Craig’s latest adventure. I think it’s going to be exciting. So what comes next? Who knows? ”He notes rather diplomatically.
Much less hypothetical is his return to the Crazy Rich Asians franchise, for which he remains on board to reprise his role as gallant Nick Young. Filming is still to come, but he believes the production’s current challenge is to create an optimal screenplay. “They’re writing right now. They have a story through, which incorporates the last two books, and so the hard work now begins in terms of weaving the story together with so many characters that we love, ”the star explains.
As his credits accumulate and he moves closer to last name status, only one truth is certain: The only etiquette Golding will truly adhere to is “talented.” There may never be a time when no one has noticed.
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