'Snake Eyes' star Henry Golding gets real about fatherhood, weighs in on 'Crazy Rich Asians' sequel

Brian Truitt
USA TODAY

Henry Golding’s 3½-month-old infant daughter is on the move these days, and he’s putting his new skills as a movie ninja to good work on the home front.

“She's already kind of rolling over on her own accord. So I'm running across the room, making sure that she doesn't roll onto something or off something,” the Malaysian-born star of "Snake Eyes" (in theaters Friday) says with a laugh.

The “Crazy Rich Asians” heartthrob has his first lead action role in the “G.I. Joe Origins” martial-arts adventure, based on the 1980s toy-and-cartoon franchise. Golding lends voice and face to the mute masked commando from back in the day, as Snake Eyes ventures to Tokyo to learn the ways of the Arashikage clan with his friend Tommy (Andrew Koji) and take on global terrorists.

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Henry Golding has a new daughter and his first lead action role with the film "Snake Eyes."

Instead of just making Snake Eyes a human weapon, “we’ve given him a life – a life that he's led thus far pretty terribly. He's a guy who's made a lot of mistakes,”  says Golding, 34. “We look up to these superheroes and crazy metahumans but we can never find moments where we go, ‘Hey, yeah, he made that mistake that I made’ or ‘He's done some pretty terrible things but he deserves a second chance.’ I love that.”

Raised in England from when he was 8, Golding now calls Los Angeles home alongside wife Liv Lo and daughter Lyla. During the past pandemic year, Golding took up mountain biking and surfing, “amped up” his computer-game skills and also souped up a Jeep for trips to Yosemite National Park and Big Sur in that “babymoon period,” he says. “It was a silver lining in the chaos.”

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Henry Golding plays Snake Eyes in Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins from Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Skydance.

Golding, who next stars opposite Dakota Johnson in Netflix’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion," spoke with USA TODAY about “Snake Eyes,” being a new dad and when we can expect that “Crazy Rich” sequel.

Question: The cartoon Snake Eyes in the ‘80s was very much a hero, but was it enjoyable to throw in a little darkness?

Henry Golding: It gave a dimensionality that we haven't seen before. It also allows you into his thought process. Throughout pretty much the majority of the movie, he's making decisions under the pretense of trying to turn his life around. Secretly, he still has these deep dark motivations to find vengeance, and that's an overpowering feeling. It takes something great to break him out of that and that's something that he finds in the Arashikage.

Q: You just finished filming “Persuasion” in the U.K. How hard was it to go back to work after becoming a dad?

Golding: We were really lucky. Liv and the baby came out for about 3½ weeks right at the beginning, (and) then they left me for a good month and a half whilst I was still filming. It was heartbreaking and of course you yearn for them. But you know this is where I have to be. I have those college fees to look forward to paying, so I’ve got to make sure I put in my hard work when I can.

Q: How has fatherhood already changed you?

Golding: Selflessness is something that really comes to the forefront. You're not living for yourself anymore. It's not your dreams and your goals. Yes, you take those into account, but right now it's making sure that she has everything that she wants and is able to do everything and anything that she puts her mind to.

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Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding and Constance Wu in "Crazy Rich Asians."

Q: The success of “Crazy Rich Asians” was a definite win for representation of Asians in Hollywood. Do you feel like progress has continued in the wake of films like "Parasite" and "Minari"?

Golding: It's always going to be a long road, but it's been built by giants in the past. We're only adding an extra step with every movie we make. It's definitely a never-ending fight just to be a part of, but it's heading in the right direction, especially with the advent of these major blockbuster films being led by people such as I and Simu (Liu of Marvel’s coming “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”). It's a really special time to be a part of this. 

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Q: When’s that “Crazy Rich Asians” sequel happening?

Golding: Probably after “Snake Eyes 2” comes out. (Laughs) 

Henry Golding pulls off some sweet martial-arts moves with sword in hand in "Snake Eyes."

Q: Is there one "Snake Eyes" action scene you watch and think, “Wow, I can't believe I survived that”?

Golding: The car-carrier scene for me is my favorite. We probably filmed that for, like, two days straight. We weren't able to use any safety ropes so we're standing (20 feet up) on top of these cars. Just with the sheer movement, your sword would get entangled and you'd be restricted in your motion. To be able to bounce from car to car, whilst in combat, with multiple foes, that was a real fun time.

Q: Did you ever get smacked accidentally doing all that?

Golding: We're continuously getting hit in the head by a sword. I think Andrew actually broke one on me at some stage where we were fighting. It's just one of those things that happens. You just make sure the eye's still there. If it is, great. If not, “Medic!” You carry on because at the end of it, nobody does it on purpose. You're gonna hit somebody in the face one time and you're gonna sure as hell hope they forgive you for it.