Movies

Henry Golding dealt winning hand as lead of Snake Eyes

Currently showing in cinemas here now, Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins stars Henry Golding as the titular tenacious loner who is welcomed into an ancient Japanese clan called the Arashikage after saving the life of their heir apparent Tommy aka Storm Shadow (Andrew Koji). 

Upon arrival in Japan, the Arashikage teach Snake Eyes the ways of the ninja warrior while also providing something he’s been longing for - a home. 

But when secrets from his past are revealed, his honour and allegiance will be tested.

Based on the most popular character in the G.I. Joe universe, the mute, masked commando has long been an enigma, even to his most loyal fans.

In the original books, Snake Eyes is portrayed as Caucasian, but the movie’s producers decided to make him Asian-American.

Enter Malaysian-British actor Golding, 34, of Crazy Rich Asians fame.

Henry Golding speaks during the 2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 16, 2021. REUTERS

Said producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura: “The traditional character is a man of no words, but there’s something majestic about him. Henry has majesty. He’s also very handsome, which never hurts.

“The more interesting version of Snake Eyes we’ve gone for has a sense of humour and Henry has a great sense of humour and a sense of irony. It makes for a layered character.”

Golding had never done an action film, but dived headfirst into the process of transforming himself into an agile and deadly commando.

He immersed himself in fight training, swordsmanship and ninja history for two months before filming
began, and continued the punishing regimen throughout the shoot.

On whether he knew martial arts before taking on the role

I’d done some Muay Thai in the past, a little bit of boxing, but never specific martial arts. So, to have a basic standard and ability to understand body motion and balance was crucial, but I was definitely put through my paces.

On the relationship between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow

It is one that will be the most toxic, but at the most base level of blood trust and brotherly love that no one can destroy but themselves. And it will go until their last breaths together.

On working with Iko Uwais, who plays Hard Master, a formidable leader of the Arashikage clan

He is an absolute weapon when it comes to kicking butt. I’ve been a massive fan of Iko’s for the longest time. We have that Southeast Asian connection, him from Indonesia and myself from Malaysia, so I love Iko like a brother.

On taking anything from the set

I was very respectful, I shouldn’t. I should’ve taken whatever I could’ve got my hands on. But actually, funnily enough because we ended up filming in Japan, I think sneaking aboard a Samurai sword on a plane back to the States would’ve been very questionable. So I think I’m gonna have to collect my sword at the Paramount lot at some point.

On how hot the costume was

With all the movement and training, and fighting sequences, after the 30th take, you’re just sweating profusely. Luckily, a lot of it was shot during winter, so we were kind of cooled down a little bit, some very cold nights, but generally it was pretty sticky in there.

On what fans can anticipate when they see Snake Eyes on the big screen

I think one hell of a ride. I think you’re gonna be taken away at the explosive action sequences, the insane martial arts, the world-building that we’re doing, the potential, as well as introduction of one of the baddest asses in comic book history.

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