In Hollywood, Henry Golding is as good as gold.
The 31-year-old actor is on his way to becoming a household name, thanks to his starring role as Nick Young in Warner Bros.’ Crazy Rich Asians. The movie—his very first—has been No. 1 at the box office since it premiered in theaters Aug. 15, earning $83.9 million domestically to date. Golding, who began hosting the BBC’s The Travel Show in 2014, booked another glossy gig before that film was even released, playing Sean Nelson in the Lionsgate thriller A Simple Favor.
The movie, in theaters Sept. 14, stars Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively as Stephanie Ward and Emily Nelson: two unlikely BFFS who get caught in a web of betrayals, lies and secrets. In an exclusive interview with E! News, Golding said he had watched the actresses when he was “growing up” and was slightly nervous about sharing the screen with two veterans. “It was quite a small set, really. The main cast was four or five people, so the proximity, really in this filmmaking, was so much closer,” he said. “It’s easy to kind of get very nervous about it. And there were certain days where I was like, ‘What am I doing? Why am I here?'” But director and producer Paul Feig was “the best short of shepherd” on set, the actor explained. “He really leads the way, in a sense, and delivers with purpose. And you have to have that in a colleague.”
“Henry makes it so easy,” Feig told E! News. “He’s such a natural. It’s crazy.”
Given that Golding had never acted professionally, Feig called up Chu, who vouched for the newbie. “I was like, ‘Is he for real?’ Jon said, ‘He is amazing. You will have the greatest time.’ And we did,” he said. “To have the confidence to go up against Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively!”
“There were days when I questioned that, Paul,” Golding interjected. “I’m not gonna lie!”
“We could never tell,” Feig reassured him. “You were cool as a cucumber.”
Casting Golding “was a no-brainer,” Feig told E! News. “The first time I ever saw Henry, it was on one of his travel shows, and I was just like, ‘Who is this charismatic, handsome, funny guy?'”
Although Golding was initially intimidated by Kendrick and Lively, he was pleasantly surprised by how professional and welcoming his co-stars were. “Those two girls are 110 percent, on and off the camera. And that, I’ve heard, can be sometimes fleeting or rather rare in the industry,” Golding said. “To have people who, even when they’re standing on the side, give everything to get the best performance out of you—and they’ve been doing it for so long—really is a testament to who they are as actresses and why they’re so successful. I love them to death.”
As Golding continues to promote A Simple Favor—and Crazy Rich Asians continues its reign at the box office—Golding is taking stock of his newfound fame. “It’s been phenomenal. It’s been nothing more than miraculous. It’s the craziest ride,” he said. “It’s come at a stage in my life where I’m very aware of the work that needs to be done. I know that what I need to get carried away with. Luckily, I’ve got a great wife who keeps me in check, who keeps me grounded. Just having the opportunity to work with two phenomenal directors for my first projects—it’s a gift.”
“I’m concentrating on working hard and making sure people really get excited about this movie. A Simple Favor is really going to blow people [away]. They don’t know what to expect! That’s the greatest thing. And they don’t know what to expect from Paul, because they’re like, ‘Oh! Bridesmaids, Spy—hilarious films!'” Golding continued. “But this is a totally different direction.”
For more from Feig and Golding, watch E! News’ exclusive interview now.