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Takeshi Kaneshiro Talkasia Transcript

Takeshi Kaneshiro Talkasia Transcript

HR: Hugh Riminton
TK: Takeshi Kaneshiro

HR: Welcome to Talk Asia.

Now there is a chance you haven't yet heard of Takeshi Kaneshiro, but there is very little chance, if you care anything at all about Asian culture or film in general, that you will remain ignorant of him for very long.

He's a pop star, he's an actor of considerable versatility, and now he's a model. After hit TV shows and 29 films, Time magazine has described him as a chameleon, the Johnny Depp no less of the Asian film industry.

He was an action hero in the ravishing move The House of Flying Daggers, but his latest film, consistent with his professional restlessness, is a big-budget musical, Perhaps Love.

Takeshi Kaneshiro, welcome to Talk Asia.

TK: Hi, thank you.

HR: It seems to me looking at your career, you're still a very young man at 32 years old, that you have almost at every step, fallen upwards. All the time your career has gone on and got bigger. But your starting point was not always easy, was it, growing up in Taiwan?

TK: I think I was lucky. Looks helped me a lot in this business, because when I started to either sing or act, those were not something that I wanted to do when I was a student in High school- and I started to do this show business by coincidence, I would say. In the beginning, something was interesting but something was not so comfortable for me. Because I think I'm a kind of shy person, and it was very hard for me to do something in front of people that I don't know.

HR: At school, you say you were shy, it was harder than that- you were bullied at school weren't you? Was that because you had a Japanese father, living in Taiwan?

TK: Maybe because my father's Japanese, my mother is Taiwanese, and I was born and grown up in Taiwan. The people in Taiwan around me they would say: "You are Japanese". But in school, I went to Japanese school, the people in school will say "You are Taiwanese". And maybe it was not so easy to recognize myself, which country person I am.

HR: You were caught between two different cultures in some ways.

TK: Yeah, maybe.

HR: Do you think that that helps you understand some part of the roles that you play? (TK: Now?) Yes, often you seem to play people that are not quite at ease with their world.

TK: It helps in a way that when I started to work in Japan, because Japanese help you- because you know the culture, and you know how to express the emotion in a Japanese way, or a Chinese way, because I think they'll be different when the language is different. Those helped, but I don't know if those helped in acting different kind of characters, I think that's something different.

HR: You started off in music, how did that happen?

TK: That was, I think it's kind of the way they publish new young stars, because I was 18 or 19 I guess, and...because I didn't have any clear idea about this career yet, and for me, everything was challenge, and I just tried, and somehow I think I was lucky that people start to like my music, or like my person. And then I got the chance to start to do movies, and that's how I start.

HR: So when you were being a singer, did it seem to come naturally to you?

TK: Not really, because I tried to write some songs. Writing songs and to sing the song you wrote by yourself was really great- for me. But maybe, the audience, they might not really listen to the work you did, they maybe care more about your dancing or singing as time goes on.

HR: As often happens in Taiwan, if someone is singing and building a career as a singer, you get asked to act in something. How did you make that transition?

TK: I didn't know if I'm a singer, or actor, or something, model, I don't know? Any kind of opportunity was a challenge for me, and I think I was in the progress to learn something. Anything I can do, I'll just learn. And somehow, you will find something you really want to do. Maybe that was acting.

When I'm in the studio, when we are filming, acting is not the only thing that I watch when I'm working. Acting is only something that I'm doing, it's my job now. But the whole thing, movie, making movie, is the great creating thing about a big art, big work. So maybe directing, or photographer, vocal photographer, every man, every person in the set, the thing they do, really- I'll feel interesting about them.

HR: Is it that curiosity? You've played successfully romantic comedy, you've played young men who are uncertain of themselves, but you've also played House of Flying Daggers, a hero, a fighting hero, and now, in a musical. What is it that is common to what you bring to that work?

TK: For me, I would just try to do the best I could do, and there are many things that I can't do, I think. Like martial arts, great action. Because we didn't learn the martial arts. What we can do is act, we can pretend to be the guy.

But the step you do, we can do, is there is limit. Or if you give me ten years, maybe that will be different. But what you could do is... I think acting is the only thing you can do. And the directors are great, Zhang Yimou or Peter Chan, I think they... without them, you couldn't really finish the job, or really pretend to be the guy in the role. So I think that they are really important, great directors.

HR: We're speaking with Takeshi Kaneshiro. When we return to Talk Asia, we'll be talking about his new movie, the musical Perhaps Love.

Block B

HR: Welcome back to Talk Asia, I'm Hugh Riminton, we're here with Takeshi Kaneshiro, talking about his film career. And we're going to talk now about your latest film, Perhaps Love, a musical, tell me about it.

TK: It's a very very cute love story, this movie including musical. It's very fantasy, I think very special.

HR: It looks fantastic, it's a big budget musical, something people don't see very often these days.

TK: Yeah, 'cause we... I think in China, they said this- many many years they haven't had anything like this! All the people in the movie are the most great workers in Asia. And for the musical, they invite the great dancing coaches from Bollywood, from India, which is really great. I think they add many, many colors in this movie.

HR: It's true isn't it because its not only something which isn't being done as a genre, that as a musical being made out of Asia. But also it is really, as you say, across Asia- Bollywood style choreography, and so on. Is that exciting to work on something that you've never seen before?

It is exciting; it is exciting because...I didn't dance this time. I sang- but I didn't dance. But when you watch the dance in front of you, while you're taking the movie, you feel like, wow! Because it's something that you never saw before.

The people from India they are really different, they have the power that you feel. I couldn't close my mouth because I was like, ooh, oh my god!

HR: You are now the star of this film, the star of a film which is a risky film to make, that has a lot of money at stake. It's trying something different. How does that feel, to have that expectation on you?

TK: Every movie you do will have the pressure, but the only thing I can do is really try to do the best I can do, in the role I play. Try to understand the story, try to talk to directors or the actors, to hope the story that we're playing- if it's something that you want to make audience to cry, you want they to get some messages- that we will try to do our part to make it better, and better.

HR: What do you think lies at the heart of your role in this film that people really relate to?

TK: My character was trying to remember something, keep something in his heart all the time, but the one I loved, she tried to forget everything that she had. Somehow, I remember she forget, but at the end, I... it's not forget, but I let it go- then she remembers it, but let it go too. And I think Peter would like the audience to get some messages about their lives, their way, the way they feel about what is love.

HR: You mentioned directors earlier. Would you agree that there are great directors working in Asia, that some of the most beautiful films being made in all sorts of genres in Asia- and you've been lucky enough to work with the best?

TK: Yes, (laughs) I think that I have been lucky. From the very beginning!

HR: Because you worked with Wong Karwai when you were just starting out. What was that, as an experience, like?

TK: It was something new, very fresh, and he gave lots of space to let everyone try to do something by themselves- because there was no script! It was very, very new for me, and I think that's the reason that I feel like, woah! acting's so interesting, making movies is so interesting! Because we could do a shot, maybe of anger or crying, 20 or 30 times, but each time was different, because we didn't follow any script.

HR: I also think of a scene like Zhang Yimou's House of Flying Daggers, in that climactic scene where you're fighting Andy Lau's character, and the seasons change around you so that you're still in the same fight and it starts to snow, and it strikes me that that is one of the most extraordinary scenes in movies that will be played by movie historians again and again in years to come.

TK: When I got the message that Zhang Yimou was looking for me for his new movie, I was- I couldn't believe that! I told people in the company that I think he misunderstand- I mean, I think he didn't mention me, that it was the other actors- like he didn't say the name correctly, because I didn't know that I could be able to have the opportunity to work with him! It was great, and from the very first time we met, from the handshaking- was great. I mean, I love his movies a lot. And for me, it was a really great honor to even have a handshake with him. And after, right after we shake hands- we didn't even finish handshaking- and he said: "Okay, the movie I'm going to do is..." and the next 30 minutes, he was only talking, but you feel like you're watching the movie in front of you! Great storyteller, and the passion he had was something, I was moved by his talking, and his, you know, his face was great!

HR: With Takeshi Kaneshiro, we'll be back in just a moment when we explore what's next with him in his career.

Block C

HR: Welcome Back to Talk Asia. Our guest is the actor Takeshi Kaneshiro. Takeshi, where now for you? You are young in your career still. What ambitions do you have in mind at the moment?

TK: Keep acting. Whenever there's chance and opportunity, because I think the situation is... I think something is changing around us. For example, this movie, there were calls for cooperation between countries, and great stuff from other countries. Many people gather from many different countries to do great art work, and maybe this is because of China. Because China is a big market for every country, and other countries. And so for us- actors or actress, or the photographers and directors- we might have more chances to work with different people, different countries' people. Which would be very interesting, something that... there will be more and more movies that we've never seen before, and that's exciting I think.

HR: What do you think of film like Memoirs of a Geisha, which has Chinese people playing Japanese characters, in English, for a world audience?

TK: As a Japanese- as well, I think it's a great honor that a story from Japan could be... could have the attention in other countries, and even Hollywood would spend money to make a beautiful movie about geisha, which is Japanese culture. I think it's great, but personally, for myself, I would like to watch in Japanese, for, you know, in Japanese, talk in Japanese about geisha.

HR: Some people have said that Hollywood has become a bit stale. The box office returns are dwindling, it's not the powerhouse that it was. Do you feel that, as someone working in film, do you feel Hollywood has not so many fresh things to say, that perhaps there might be more interesting things being said, perhaps here in Asia?

TK: I don't know, because I really enjoy the movie from Hollywood, because I think the movies are entertainment- no matter if it's something funny, or something really great or cry, or very shock, or scary. But Hollywood is a dream for everybody, and they always have the best or newest skills, that people would want to watch because they will learn. Maybe they will just copy- but it's something that people are watching, always watching.

HR: In terms of Hollywood, you watch the movies, do you have favorite movies, favorite directors, favorite actors?

TK: Many, many, (laughs) many! Well, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks- you know, they're great! Theirs are movies that I would just watch over and over again when I have time, and I don't know why. So they have the magic; Hollywood has the magic.

HR: As an actor yourself, when you get to the stage when you're looking back at your career, how would you define 'success'?

TK: Myself, I think that I should act more. Especially for these years, well Peter told me, well why are you doing just one movie per year? And I said, well I didn't make this happen, it's only because there wasn't really good stories that I feel like I wanted to do. But I feel like yeah, maybe I should play more and more.

HR: Would success be an Oscar, an Academy Award?

TK: Well, I hope so. But it's already a great honor that they can mention us, our movies... it's great enough. But, yeah, sure, if we could get something optional and extra, that would be great!

HR: Well, however you define it, I'm sure you'll get it. Thank you very much. (TK - Thank you.)

HR: And that's Talk Asia. Our guest has been Takeshi Kaneshiro. I'm Hugh Riminton. Thanks for watching!

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