- Warner Bros.
- “Crazy Rich Asians” star Henry Golding had never acted before filming.
- Director Jon M. Chu found Golding after he widened the search for the leading man, Nick Young, because the casting process was “lazy.”
- Chu found Golding through an accountant on the movie who noticed his charm and movie-star quality after seeing him at an awards show.
“Crazy Rich Asians” star Henry Golding took the leading role in the $30 million Warner Bros. rom-com without any acting credits to his name.
Before Golding was cast in “Crazy Rich Asians,” which is the first studio movie starring an Asian-American cast in 25 years, he hosted travel shows on BBC and Discovery Channel. The movie is his acting debut, and he has another film out in September: Paul Feig’s “A Simple Favor” starring Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick.
By fall 2016, most of the “Crazy Rich Asians” cast was set, except for Nick Young, the leading man. Young is a handsome professor from Singapore who neglects to tell his serious girlfriend that he comes from one of Asia’s wealthiest families – until they meet his family while they’re in Singapore for his best friend’s wedding.
“Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu said Golding wasn’t easy to find. In a Vulture profile about Golding, Chu said lazy Hollywood tradition was holding them back.
“I was very frustrated because I felt like our casting was lazy in the beginning,” Chu said. “We weren’t digging up people I’ve never seen. It’s a systematic problem: there are the casting directors who are only aware of ten Asian male actors out there that they go to. When you see the same ten people, you don’t get to discover new people.”
So in an effort to discover new talent, Chu broadened the search by making the casting global and by looking in unexpected places like theater schools, sports teams, modeling agencies, and even YouTube. But Golding was ultimately discovered through networking: an accountant working on “Crazy Rich Asians” saw Golding host an awards show, and recognized his charm.
After getting slews of emails with suggestions for Asian actors who could pull off a British accent to play Nick Young, Chu wasn’t feeling too confident about Golding. “I think I blew it off, because I got so many emails from people who have good-looking Asian male friends that are just good-looking Asian men.” But Chu went into a rabbit hole watching Golding’s travel videos, and then got connected through a mutual Facebook friend.
“Crazy Rich Asians” which stars Golding, Constance Wu, Michelle Yeong, and Awkwafina comes to theaters August 15.
Watch the trailer below: