We speak to Japanese Oscar-winning actor Yosuke Kubozuka about his role in crime drama Giri/Haji and his love of Ryan Gosling.
Thursday’s are undoubtedly a bit of a bore, right? It’s a hit or miss night to be dragged out on, and, when you do finally get roped in to leaving your sofa, the dive you always end up at is chock full of people who love going out before the weekend – tragic. Luckily for us, BBC2’s exciting new Japanese/English crime drama, the visually gripping Giri/Haji (which translates to Duty/Shame), is set to hit our screens tonight, and will give you perfect reason to relish staying in.
The story follows detective Kenzo Mori (Takehiro Hira) on the hunt for brother Yuto (Yosuke Kubozuka), who, after being taken for dead in retaliation to his suspected murder of a Yakuza bosses’ nephew, has been spotted in London. Armed only with DC Sarah Weitzmann and rent boy Rodney Yamaguchi, Kenzo navigates the tricky terrain of the criminal underworld to find Yuto before tensions back home reach irrevocable highs. We caught up with troublemaker Yosuke Kubozuka himself, and got to grips with his love of theatre and Ryan Gosling.
What’s your earliest memory of film?
Y: The films that I remember, quite early on in my childhood are The Goonies,Back to The Future and Stand By Me. Those really made me feel the power of the film, and I thought, “Wow, films can be amazing. They’re really interesting.”
Who was your favourite actor/actress growing up?
Y: Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp, but if we were to refer to older actors I really like Robert De Niro and Al Pacino as well, and I do like Ryan Gosling and Matthew McConaughey as well, if we are talking about contemporary actors too.
When did you know you wanted to do this full time?
Y: When I was 16 years old.
Do you find it easy to get into a role? What’s your process?
Y: There isn’t a set procedure for me actually, I cannot say it’s easy all the time. I always think about who they are, the characters, and how we are going to act that character. Are there any similarities between us? I believe getting into the role is the process of intermixing between the character and myself, I think of it as melting into one.
If you could be in one directors’ film, who would it be?
Y: I’d have to say Christopher Nolan.
What do you want people to feel when they watch your films/shows?
Y: I mean, its up to the individual, so whatever they want to feel. But, if my films or shows became the catalyst for change in that they become better than they are now, or the world becoming a better place, in even the smallest amount, I would say that’s an honor for me.
What’s the favourite role you’ve ever played?
Y: That’s actually like asking me which one of my children are my favourite, so I cant pick one unfortunately. All I can say is that I give my best in the role that I’m playing at that moment, so I’m giving my everything. So to answer your question, I can’t pick just one. Everything is my favourite.
Have you done theatre? Would you ever consider it?
Y: Yes, I have done theatre before and I like it. I’m sure some British audiences know, but I’ve done three productions with Yukioni Ninagawa. I have done two or three with other directors as well, so about 5 or 6 big theatre productions. I don’t tend to participate so much in the Japanese TV dramas but in Japan I mainly work on films and in theatres too. I think theatre’s original and different to the films, and I like that difference too.
What is it like filming in a second language?
Y: It’s exciting, but there is a pressure as well. To act in a language that I’m not fully immersed in, not fully fluent in, it does pose a bit of a challenge. It does have some good in it as well; there are pros and cons actually. But I do believe if there is a point that I could just be acting like I would in Japanese, but in English, I’m sure that would be so much fun and exciting. One major challenge is that I can’t just do an ad-lib, I can’t do it off the cuff, so really that’s the difference. But it is exciting.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Y: This was quite early on in my career, it was a war film, I was acting as a film technician and I was about to be drafted. On my last day at the cinema screen [where I worked] I put on the film roll for myself, and my character would go down and sit in the cinema auditorium, and just watch the silver screen by himself. When we were filming that, I watched the silver screen thinking about my mother, that was the scene. But the director kept saying “No, a little bit more. Think about your mother a little bit more. Think about the episodes that you have had/shared with your mother.” And I started to think more about what had happened, really realistically, about the memories the character would have had, and in that moment the director said, “That. That’s it. That’s the moment.” And I thought, “Oh wow, what I think in my head and my heart is reflected on screen, and can be seen.” That was the moment I realised there are directors who can see that through, and who would be able to capture that. That realisation was profound, it was quite significant for me.
What’s your goal for one year from now?
Y: There are three projects that I have been offered internationally, from Hollywood, they’re low-budgets. One is the second season of Giri/Haji. I really want all of them to be realised, so I would really like to work hard to attain them.
If today was the last day on earth, what would you do, where would you go?
Y: This is the famous question, isn’t it? I’ve been asked this before, and I always answered that I would just like to go on as normal, like every day in my life.
What are you inspired by?
Giri/Haji will premiere on BBC Two on Thursday 17 October at 9pm, the boxset will be available on BBC iPlayer straight after.