Henry Golding exploded onto the leading-man scene in the film world in 2018 playing roles ranging from the Prince Charming of Asia (Crazy Rich Asians) to a dark and mysterious murder suspect (A Simple Favor), and, in Universal Pictures’ new romantic comedy Last Christmas, a quirky guy enchanting his love interest.
In Last Christmas, Kate (Emilia Clarke) harrumphs around London, a bundle of bad decisions accompanied by the jingle of bells on her shoes, another irritating consequence from her job as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop. Tom (Golding) seems too good to be true when he walks into her life and starts to see through so many of Kate’s barriers. As London transforms into the most wonderful time of the year, nothing should work for these two. But sometimes, you gotta let the snowfall where it may, you gotta listen to your heart … and you gotta have faith.
Director Paul Feig, who last collaborated with Golding in A Simple Favor, was more than pleased to be working with his leading man once again. “Henry is Tom,” Feig says. “I wanted to show that funny, charming side of him. When Henry came onboard, I told him to just be himself. It was that lightness of spirit that he has in real life that I wanted to shine through in Tom, and he has just done an incredible job.”
Clarke talks about their characters’ interplay, as well as sharing the screen with Golding. “The relationship that Kate has with Tom is not love at first sight. These two are butting heads a bit; it’s very witty,” Clarke says. “It’s only toward the end of the film that you start to see both have an objective, and we understand how that has brought them together. Henry is incredibly open as an actor, generous and funny, so it has been a pleasure.”
Set in December 2017, in the wake of the Brexit vote, the film touches on the deeply human element of the turmoil, and the price strangers pay. “The script is clever at highlighting all these social aspects,” Golding says. “Like the struggles with homelessness and how we can play our part in helping; the fact that sometimes they just need a chance and a helping hand. Everyone has their strengths, and sometimes you just need somebody to shine that spotlight.”
Indeed, the actor related to this tale of passion and loss. “This story is layered with comedy, love and colorful characters,” Golding says. “It dives into the importance of being present, taking in your surroundings and interacting with those around you.”
Golding appreciated the chance to play an enigmatic man—one who is charming, but also frustrating to the woman falling in love with him. “Tom is the kind of guy who everyone wants to hang out with,” he says. “He’s present and enjoys walking around London, looking up at the architecture and the history. He’s a breath of fresh air and has a joyous spring in his step. When Tom enters the story, he helps Kate reach her potential. He teaches Kate about loving herself and to ‘look up.’ He shows her the importance of being present, opening up and living the best life she can.
“Tom and Kate are like yin and yang,” Golding continues. “As the story progresses, they come together and see each other within themselves. They both develop a much deeper understanding of one another. Tom understands Kate’s pain and struggles with her family and tries to guide her in finding the good in the world.”
Reflecting upon his hopes for the audience experiencing the film that’s been a labor of love, Golding says: “Everybody in front of the camera and behind the scenes has put so much heart into this. The script itself is beautiful in so many aspects—from teaching life lessons to giving you a slap around the face. The big message is to be present, be here, be nurtured, be loved.”
In Philippine cinemas on November 27, Last Christmas is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures. Use the hashtag #LastChristmas.