Movies

Henry Golding had movement coach for Last Christmas

Breaking out in Hollywood last year as the male lead in rom-com Crazy Rich Asians and Paul Feig's thriller A Simple Favor, Henry Golding joins forces again with US director Feig in Last Christmas.

Opening here on Nov 28, it sees the 32-year-old English-Malaysian actor play Tom, a kind-hearted man who helps a troubled woman (Emilia Clarke) get her life back on track.

The film features the music of late English pop star George Michael and the Wham! song Last Christmas and plays as a love letter to London, mixing romance and drama with Christmas fun.

Your character moves a lot on-screen even when he is playing the straighter guy to Emilia's broader moments. What were you trying to achieve there?

I (had) said I'd love to have a movement coach because I feel (Tom) should have a lightness to him, this airiness, a carefree persona, almost reminiscent of a Gene Kelly or a Frank Sinatra bounding his way around, enjoying the environment and not caring what people think of him.

I think that is what Tom's quality is like. He is living in the present. So we came up with some little moves and twirls and tried to integrate them naturally. We did not want to make it too cheesy but to have it as a part of his character, and it came off.

Has making this movie seen your interest in George Michael and Wham! deepen?

Massively. For a start, you begin listening to the words. Even if you listen to Last Christmas, there is so much meaning behind those words. And Heal The Pain is one of the most magnificent songs ever written.

I actually sing a lot more of that song in the movie but they cut it out because Emilia has a much better voice. I think people are going to be spoilt by this surge in interest and in album sales. (Wham! member) Andrew Ridgeley is going to make a massive Christmas bonus.

You worked with Feig on A Simple Favor. He must be something of a mentor to you.

Paul is one of my best buddies, mentors and favourite humans.

He is more English than most English people. He lives for pomp and traditions. Hence the suits, going to Dukes, to Annabel's, all these amazing places where he just loves to sit and have his little whisky.

We go for cigars. The last time we were in Las Vegas, we sat for a four-hour meal just talking together. I would do anything for Paul.

Both you and Emilia ice skate in the movie. Are you competent?

I was quite sad that they didn't put more of the ice skating in the film. We had a whole day in this empty rink which never happens, for sure.

Not many people get an empty rink with free rein for 10 hours, and the later in the day it got, the more competent I was getting. I was doing figure of eights and spins. They caught only bits and bobs but that was a great day.

Were you better than Emilia?

Tremendously so! She didn't have much time. She was quite ill. She had this huge cold and fever so wasn't able to train as much. And she had to do a lot more technical stuff because of her audition on the ice.

Whereas I had done ice skating as a kid so I had that. I used to go to (leisure complex) Guildford Spectrum and skate up there on dates and stuff.

How has life changed for you over the last couple of years?

It has been insane, to be honest. But at the same time, I have been able to take it in my stride in a sense and make the right level-headed decisions.

Coming into it later in life beyond 30 has really helped and having previous careers elsewhere, not in the film industry, but being in more news-based journalism and travel shows, has really allowed me to have a strong pair of shoulders.

Now is the time to make right decisions and working with people like Paul is the right thing to do.

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