Henry Golding rolled the dice and they came up Snake Eyes.
With filming on Hollywood’s G.I. Joe spin-off already going on in Japan, Golding, taking the title role in the production, revealed the first look on Wednesday. Consider it a birthday gift from him to you.
“Because its my birthday today and I’m playing Snake Eyes… Here’s your first look,” he wrote on Instagram.
The image isn’t that revealing: it’s a black-and-white shot of Golding from behind. Sword dangling across his belt, the mask-less ninja commando slowly makes his way up the stone steps to the temple spotted above. Director Robert Schwentke (RED, Insurgent) promised to infuse this film with elements from Japense cinema, and the photo invokes the atmosphere of classic samurai movies.
“I’ve been a lifelong fan of Japanese cinema. It’s my favorite national cinema,” Schwentke said as the cast gathered in Japan for a traditional ceremony to bless the start of production in January.
The filmmaker specifically mentioned chanbara (Japanese sword-fighting movies), “a lot of car action,” Yakuza, and “some ningyo ideas” (fish-like creatures from Japanese folklore) that will influence Snake Eyes. “We’re playing around with a lot of ideas that are very specifically Japanese and we’re trying to get them right,” he said. “I think that will make this film very, very special.”
Ray Park portrayed Snake Eyes in 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and 2013’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation, but Golding says Paramount and Hasbro are “starting a new timeline, a new franchise with the G.I. Joe universe,” starting with Snake Eyes.
“For us to never really see what is beneath the mask, it always missed something,” he explained of his character, who’s rarely depicted without his mask. “Snake Eyes was always seen as a weapon, as almost an inanimate object. But when you get to see someone’s eyes, you get to see their past, you get to see their future, you get their personality behind that. And so, we throw it back right to the beginning and see how he progresses and how he develops into this most amazing character.”
Also starring in Snake Eyes are Samara Weaving (Ready or Not), Iko Uwais (The Raid movies), Andrew Koji (Cinemax’s Warrior), Úrsula Corberó (Netflix’s Money Heist), Haruka Abe (47 Ronin), and Takehiro Hira (Girl/Haji).
The film is set for theaters on Oct. 23.