Henry Golding on Snake Eyes and Why It’s Not a Superhero Film

With director Robert Schwentke’s new film Snakes Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins opening July 23rd, Paramount Pictures has launched their marketing campaign with the just released teaser trailer showing Henry Golding in action as Snakes Eyes. While the teaser gives us a brief glimpse at Golding as the popular G.I. Joe character, a lot is still unknown about the upcoming origin film. Fortunately, I recently landed an exclusive interview with Golding and was able to ask him a number questions that I believe the fans want to know.

Before going any further, if you’re unfamiliar with the upcoming Snake Eyes movie, the film tells the story of how Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow (Andrew Koji) met and how their brotherly relationship fell apart. The film also introduces Úrsula Corberó as The Baroness, Samara Weaving as Scarlett, Haruka Abe as Akiko, Tahehiro Hira as Kenta and Iko Uwais as Hard Master.

One of the big things the film is going to do is focus on Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and Hard Master’s relationship which has been depicted in the comics and cartoon many times. Golding told me:

“There’s a beginning where they’re brothers. There’s a moment where they’re sworn enemies. There’s moments where they work together to fight an equal sort of enemy. This relationship never sort of ends and sort of peeling back those layers and discovering more. And that’s the great thing again about the origin story is we get to see the basis and to see why it’s so emotionally charged for both of these characters and at what point does it turn. 

And of course, Hard Master being one of the combat specialist at the Arashikage, he of course has some part in training Snake Eyes to be the guy that he is. So Hard Master of course is very reluctant in his teaching because to be honest with you, Snake Eyes is a little shit in the beginning. He isn’t the guy that we know him to be. And so of course there’s going to be a rivalry. But it plays out so well, and Iko is phenomenal.”

Something else that’s cool about the upcoming Snake Eyes movie is this will be the first G.I. Joe movie to show the character speaking. I was curious how Golding found Snake Eyes’ voice.

“It’s what you would expect Snake Eyes to be like. Of course, we needed to understand his motivations and his past and his history. And he kind of delves into that in this movie. And a person’s experience really dictates how they act around people, how they talk, in what way, but also his motivations. So, if he’s trying to get something out of this particular moment in time for his own benefit, he’s a smart guy. He is going to open up to be able to get the best out of the situation. But of course, we were so conscious as to make him who we wanted Snake Eyes to be, and that’s of course not some chatty dude cracking jokes, having the time of his life. There’s a real sense of gravity with him and a darkness behind his eyes that we get to sort of see.”

henry golding snake eyes gi joe origins image (2)

Image via Paramount

One of the big things that is unknown about the film is if or how Cobra and G.I. Joe will be depicted. If you were nervous the two organizations wouldn’t be featured, you can relax. Golding tells me:

“Without a doubt, Cobra and G.I. Joe play a very integral role within this movie. And I think it sets it up in such a great way that it doesn’t give everything away. And I think Paramount were especially sort of clever at making sure we have that macro aspect of each of these characters to be able to tell the full story. We don’t want to glance over anything. And so to be able to build a suspense and build the story, to reignite this sort of G.I. Joe universe, I think it was so important. But to answer your question, yes, 100%, Cobra, G.I. Joe play a very integral role.”

In addition, Golding talks about Snake Eyes and Scarlett relationship, why Snakes Eyes isn’t a superhero film, how the film is loaded with Easter eggs for the fans, and how the ending of the film “is truly the beginning. You will be left wanting more and yearning for the expansion of this universe.”

As someone that grew up reading the G.I. Joe comics and watching the cartoon, I’m really looking forward to seeing Golding’s take on the character and how this movie will tackle the G.I. Joe universe. Check out my full conversation with Henry Golding below. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins opens July 23rd.

COLLIDER: So jumping right on in. The footage looked really cool. Cannot wait to see the movie.

HENRY GOLDING: Awesome.

I’m very curious. Will we see a wolf named Timber in this film or is he in the sequel?

GOLDING: Ooh. My friend. How do you just like ask such a story question like that?

It’s my job is to ask you good questions and for you to maneuver around by saying little but still talking.

GOLDING: Okay. Let me have a little think about this one just to sort of … Let’s say the entire reason for this movie is to go back to the origin, back to the start, the man before the mask, the man before the morals, the decisions, the hardships. How did he get to become Snake Eyes? And along that journey, he meets a lot of people. But again, this being the first movie of potentially many, it is early days just yet. I’m going to leave it at that.

Samara Weaving snake eyes gi joe origins Scarlett

Image via Paramount

Talk a little bit about the relationship between Snake Eyes, Hard Master and Storm Shadow, because that could be played a few different ways.

GOLDING: Yeah. We have Iko Uwais, who is one of the most phenomenal action stars in the world at the moment. He’s been beloved since The Raid. And of course he’s done not only Indonesian movies, but global Hollywood hits. That relationship between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow is one of the most iconic. It’s the most layered and complex relationship. It’s not just plain sailing.

We had such an amazing time. He’s from Indonesia, I’m from Southern Malaysia. So we have this camaraderie or this brotherhood together, so. And those scenes are amazing and hilarious.

In Snake Eyes you have Baroness and Scarlett. I’m just curious, how much does this film mention G.I. Joe or Cobra? Is it one of these things where it’s sort of in the background, like someone might say it, but you don’t really talk about it? What can you say?

GOLDING: You’re so good at this. This is the toughest spoiler-free conversation I’m going to have to have. Without a doubt, Cobra and G.I. Joe play a very integral role within this movie. And I think it sets it up in such a great way that it doesn’t give everything away. And I think Paramount were especially sort of clever at making sure we have that macro aspect of each of these characters to be able to tell the full story. We don’t want to glance over anything. And so to be able to build a suspense and build the story, to reignite this sort of G.I. Joe universe, I think it was so important. But to answer your question, yes, 100%, Cobra, G.I. Joe play a very integral role.

Snake Eyes has had a relationship with Scarlett in the past. Is this the introduction of their relationship? What can you tease about that?

GOLDING: What can I tease about that? You’re the worst.

Listen, I’m a fan. I’m asking fan questions.

GOLDING: I know. That’s the difficult part because I want to tell you everything. I’m just going to get slapped over the head. And I mean, there are a few interactions, of course, with Snake and Scarlett. Is their romance blossoming? Far too early. I think there’s bigger things on the plate during this story, and especially in this movie. There’s a lot of emotion running kind of rabid through the entire thing, especially for Snake. You see him at his most vulnerable, you see him at his most sort of broken, and this is kind of his story of rebuilding himself. And so I think, is there prospect of a romance? You’re going to have to ask Lorenzo di Bonaventura our producer.

henry golding snake eyes gi joe origins image (1)

Image via Paramount

What was your reaction when you saw the teaser trailer?

GOLDING: That sneak peek blew me away when I saw it. And there’s so, so much more to see.

What are you excited or what do you want fans to know about this movie that maybe they’re not seeing in the footage and they haven’t seen in any of the images?

GOLDING: I think just to be sort of open and excited about the fact that we’re making an action film. It’s not a superhero film. People need to understand that these characters, the G.I. Joe universe, are normal people with extraordinary skills and who have dedicated their lives to it. So even the action is so much more grounded in reality. And somebody explained it fantastically. They’re like, it felt like a Mission: Impossible movie. Sort of the expanse and the largeness of it all and the world that we’re filming in, especially in Japan, it feels so kind of grounded and like we’re being sucked into a reality. That’s really, really not hard to believe. So I think with this teaser, it’s literally going to leave people salivating for more, so I can’t wait to release like the full trailer. And finally in the summer, people can get into the cinemas.

A hundred percent. Once you got this role, I’m sure that you read the comics, I’m sure you watched the cartoon, I’m sure you did plenty of research. Were there any bits from the comics or the cartoon or anything that you saw that you’re like, this is awesome, we need to make sure this moment or this thing is in the movie?

GOLDING: I always loved the origin of how Snake Eyes actually became sort of masked, and his time at war. Like, I love that, but I think bringing it up to date was important. And speaking to Larry [Hamma] about the complexity behind back then having a white man, a blonde hair, blue-eyed guy come to Japan to train, it was, he wanted that fish-out-of-water story. And back then the easiest way to explain that was like, yeah, it’s a white guy in Japan. Of course it’s going to be sort of like different.

But with us, in the 21st century, it’s like dropping an American in, let’s say Switzerland. It’s of course, everyone is going to be feel sort of out of place. So for me, retelling this origin story was kind of important, but of course, paying respect to the stories that came before it and hinting through. The amount of Easter eggs that we put in to please our long-term fans, you really have to kind of like pause each scene and kind of see what we put in the background, what kind of props we’ve kind of snuck in here and there. But for me, I think, yeah, it was an amazing ride.

henry golding snake eyes gi joe origins image (3)

Image via Paramount

In the footage that we see, or that’s been released, we see you, I believe you have a machine gun and you have a sword, which is just badass.

GOLDING: Yeah. That’s definitely one of the Easter eggs, the Uzi. That’s the traditional Snake Eyes kind of combo, the katana and an Uzi. So we definitely had to put that in.

Every movie is going to have cool action, and that’s just like staple of these kind of movies. But for me, and I think for a lot of fans, it’s those quiet moments with a character where you’re pulling back more on the character stuff. Could you sort of talk about that aspect of it? Because like, I think the fans are really going to pull to moments with you and Storm Shadow just talking. And acting brotherly when you guys are first sort of getting involved, if you will.

GOLDING: Yeah. I’m glad you brought that up because that is one of the strongest through lines in this movie are these moments between the both of them. Because like I said, we need to understand what these guys have gone through together to be able to understand how strong their bond and relationship going forward is, and the complexity behind them making, I suppose, veering from the path in two very opposite directions. And for Snake Eyes, he’s torn between two worlds in this movie, and you see it. And there’s these moments of just complete agony within him to understand what the repercussions of his decisions are. I don’t want to spoil too much, but it’s so much more intelligent than just like an everyday, beat-’em-up action film. We really wanted to tell the true story and lay the groundwork for these characters.

Andrew Koji  snake eyes gi joe origins storm shadow

Image via Paramount

I know that Lorenzo has talked about, and it’s come out that they’re obviously thinking about making, more sequels. Is there any sort of update? Have you read like a treatment or a script for another movie?

GOLDING: They’re keeping it under wraps for now. I think … Lorenzo tells me fanatically that like we’re planning, we’re already getting people in the think tank to see what the next step will be. And there’s so many ways we can take this. The end of this movie is truly the beginning. It’s crazy that … You will be left wanting more and yearning for the expansion of this universe. I literally watched the first sort of cut of this movie, I stood up. Lorenzo was in the room. I was like, now that’s a fucking movie. Like, when do we get to see more? And he was just like, “Yes!”

I love it.

GOLDING: Trust me. I think you as a fan will definitely be thinking the same. You will just want to see this unravel as quickly as possible.

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins opens July 23rd.

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Steve Weintraub
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Steven Weintraub launched Collider in the summer of 2005. As Editor-in-chief, he has taken the site from a small bedroom operation to having millions of readers around the world. If you’d like to follow Steven on Twitter or Instagram, you can expect plenty of breaking news, exclusive interviews, and pictures of cats doing stupid things.

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