Occasionally movies do come out that propel new talents to unprecedented amounts of fame. For Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding, the switch from unknown actor to Hollywood heartthrob happened very quickly. In a wide-ranging interview with GQ, the actor recounted how it felt to go out in public after Crazy Rich Asians was released in August. Golding said of the experience,
It's like everybody knows exactly who you are, and the way that they speak to you is different. I've stayed the same throughout. It's just people's perception of you changes. So I'm struggling with the fame a bit.
It's one thing to be John Boyega and willingly jump into something like the Star Wars universe that already has legions of vocal fans. It's very much another to sign on to a romantic comedy like Crazy Rich Asians and suddenly become a well-known star.
Henry Golding wasn't a totally unknown when he landed the role in the Singapore-set comedy. Previously, he'd hosted BBC World News' The Travel Show and had filmed other travel projects like Surviving Borneo. However, hosting a minorly popular TV program is not the same thing as starring in a big budget movie. Two big budget movies, now, if you count his fairly hefty role in A Simple Favor.
In fact, he was so into not acting, he actually told director Jon M. Chu no several times when they tried to get him to audition for the gig.
His life now is in stark contrast to how Hollywood viewed Henry Golding before Crazy Rich Asians debuted. He also talked a little bit with GQ about filming the project and taking meetings for upcoming work that did not go nearly as well when he was still an unknown. He said:
When I finished filming it, but before the movie was out, I went to a lot of these general Hollywood meetings. They'd have to look at the paper that had my face on it and a little bit of a bio. And they're like, Crazy Rich Asians. What the hell is that? Is this, like, a television show? Is it a web series? I'd be like, 'No, no. It's a movie. I think it's gonna be pretty big.'
While Crazy Rich Asians was popular with a loyal faction of readers before it made its big screen debut, it's not super surprising that Hollywood producers weren't in the know before the Warner. Bros. title came out. It is a little more surprising that Henry Golding felt in his bones that it would be a winner for the studio.
Before its release, Crazy Rich Asians definitely wasn't a solid bet. Those involved with the film had turned down a pretty lucrative Netflix deal in order to give the flick a big screen release. The bet ended up paying off, as the movie made close to $236 million worldwide. This is on a $30 million budget, so the numbers are not too shabby.