The movie's leading man was working as a BBC TV travel host when producer Nina Jacobson's accountant first spotted him and suggested he would be perfect for the role of Nick Young in her film.
"She was in Malaysia at the time, so was more aware of him than we would've been," Nina's producing partner Brad Simpson tells WENN. "He said no the first time we asked him about the film. He thought it was too big for him and (director) Jon M. Chu had to convince him."
Jacobson knew she'd found her man as soon as she saw him on TV in Malaysia: "Nick Young had to be incredibly handsome and appealing but down to earth," she says. "He had to be a guy you could have a beer with or find on a basketball court, but who could show up in a tuxedo and have a James Bond quality."
"Then he had to have anglicised English, so that ruled out a bunch of amazing Chinese-born actors who might not have had English as a first language and who couldn't do that anglicised accent. If the accent wasn't right it wouldn't be plausible. Actually one of the accountants in our production office found him."
Now that buzz about a sequel has begun, Golding admits he has to start getting used to celebrity status around the world, telling GQ recently, "I don't know if I'd be comfortable being Brad Pitt famous. You can't walk anywhere. You can't live a life."
He adds, "I've stayed the same throughout. It's just people's perception of you changes. So I'm struggling with the fame a bit."