Stepping into the past is alright by Henry Golding.
The actor is on the new cover of Town & Country, and in the issue he opens up about taking on the role of Mr. Elliot in the new adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, co-starring Dakota Johnson.
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“I think it’s sacrilege to say, but I really like modern takes on period dramas,” Golding says. “I love the fact that we have the choice of whether to watch the classics or more contemporary takes on these stories.”
He goes on to talk about his process for getting into character and how he chooses to approach various roles.
“I try to concentrate on the material in front of me. It’s about reading the script so thoroughly that every thought you have in normal day-to-day life, you’re thinking about from the perspective of Mr. Elliot,” he says. “So I would imagine, What would he be doing in this situation, or, How would he reply to this? It’s really about staying true to our script and coming to the table with a point of view about how Elliot should be when there have already been so many different iterations. For me, that made it easier to really enjoy playing such a colourful character on the screen.”
On playing Mr. Elliot, Golding explains why he relished playing such a complex character, who is often honest to a fault.
“I think he’s far less complicated than we would imagine he is. He’s one of those people who knows what he wants and is going to mold the universe to his will. Within the story, he has his goal and he’ll do anything to get it—or to get into the pants of his perspective target,” the actor says. “For me, it was a joy to know that as much as the character goes through, he’s not going to end up with lady. I could just have fun with that.”
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He adds, “I’m really drawn to characters that itch something not only in my mind, but in my heart. It can be curiosity, it can be envy, it can be a kind of joy, but if a character sparks an emotion like that deep within me, it becomes something that I’m completely drawn to.”
Talking about his steadfast work ethic, Golding says, “I’ve worked tremendously hard for the majority of my lifetime. My first passion was hairdressing, and working in that industry in London from the age of 15 instilled at the early stages gratitude and empathy for others. I’ve lived a really beautiful existence in a way that I’m so grateful for, being able to have experience in different levels of life. It gives me a sense of reality. Like, if all of this went away, I think I’d be okay. I was something else before, I could be something else again.”