Tadanobu Asano (film star): At home in the Dive Bar (fwd)

Kevin Alan Martin martink
Fri Jul 30 11:20:54 EDT 1999

               Data Source: Asahi Evening News
                         July 30, 1999
                      (c) Asahi Shimbun
                    Written by KIMIE ITAKURA 
             copied from a pay-database of NIFTY-Serve
 15   07/30 01:43 At home in the Dive Bar

At home in the Dive Bar

   Film star Tadanobu Asano's latest picture sees him hanging out
in a dingy Hong Kong bar with a flamboyant English drunkard. is
poised for even greater success with a string of films featuring
him set to open this year.

   Asahi Evening News
   At first glance, Tadanobu Asano looks like a member of an
indie rock band who hasn't shaved for a few days. Actually, this
slender, unpretentious young man is one of the most promising and
popular film stars in Japan.
   Asano hit the big time in spring with "Samehada Otoko to
Momojiri Onna" ("Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl"), an off-beat
movie based on a comic book in which he plays a sexy gangster who
tries to take money from yakuza.
   Now Asano is poised for even greater success with a string of
movies featuring the 25-year-old actor set to open this year.
   These include Nagisa Oshima's "Gohatto" ("The Forbidden"), the
master filmmaker's first feature in 13 years. But first to open
will be "Kujaku" ("Away With Words"), the directorial debut of
renowned cinematographer Christopher Doyle, in which Asano plays
a young wanderer who is also named Asano. "Kujaku" opens in early
   "Mr. Doyle's directorial style is quite different from what
I'm used to from Japanese directors," Asano said in a recent
interview. "Usually, here in Japan there's a lot of waiting time
for actors during shooting sessions, while, say, camera or
lighting positions are adjusted."
   "Mr. Doyle is very powerful and his pace is really quick,"
Asano continued. "You've got little time to pose questions once
you're into shooting.
   "And what we've got in the end is a 100 percent pure
Christopher Doyle product. It's visually very interesting and I'm
happy to be part of it."
   Sydney-born Doyle is best known for his collaborations with
Wong Karwai in "Days of Being Wild" (1990), "Chungking Express"
(1994) and "Happy Together" (1997). Last year he worked in
Hollywood on Gus Van Sant's "Psycho" and Barry Levinson's
"Liberty Heights."
   Asano and Doyle previously worked together on a TV commercial
for fashion designer Takeo Kikuchi which was also directed by
Wong. It was Doyle who wanted Asano in "Kujaku."
   In the new picture, Asano plays a young man haunted by images
of the past who has left his childhood home on an isolated
Okinawa Prefecture island and finds himself in a dingy Hong Kong
   Despite the language barrier, Asano's character forms a
strange comradeship with two other outsiders--the Dive Bar's
proprietor Kevin (Kevin Sherlock), a flamboyant, drunken English
homosexual who remembers nothing even when sober, and Kevin's
best friend, Susie (Xu Meijing).
   "Kujaku" is a maze of words--in English, Japanese and
Chinese--and of images, from beautiful Okinawa with its deep blue
sea to Hong Kong and its crummy alleys.
   Many of the cast aren't professional actors, including
Sherlock, who has lived in Hong Kong since 1988.
   "It was a new, interesting experience for me to work with
amateur actors," Asano said.
   Asano has been acting for 10 years and has worked with many
talented indie filmmakers, including Shunji Iwai and Shinji
Aoyama. In their films, he plays a terrorist, a gangster and a
run-of-the-mill youngster with an explosive temper.
   All these characters are silent types. But where Asano excels
is in his ability to project a distinct aura. Sometimes he looks
sensitive and innocent, at other times sexy and dangerous with
his sharp eyes and lithe body. And he always looks natural. "I
don't like overacting," he says.
   Asano, who also leads an underground rock band, does not seem
overly ambitious about his acting career. He even says he rarely
goes to the movies.
   Nevertheless, in his upcoming films, Asano is apparently
broadening the range of characters he portrays. One of these
movies is "Hakuchi" ("The Idiot"), Makoto Tezuka's bold
adaptation of a 1946 novel by Ango Sakaguchi that depicts
spiritual devastation during wartime. In it, Asano portrays an
assistant TV director who falls for a beautiful but imbecilic
married woman.
   In another, "Jirai wo Fundara Sayonara" ("One Step on a Mine,
It's All Over"), he portrays hot-blooded Taizo Ichinose, a war
photographer who goes missing in Cambodia in the 1970s.
   Nagisa Oshima's "Gohatto," meanwhile, depicts homosexuality
among 19th century samurai. Its all-star cast includes Takeshi
Kitano, and Asano plays a boorish samurai who finds himself
attracted to a younger comrade.
   Asano also hopes to work with foreign actors and directors
   "I wish I could speak English," said Asano, whose mother is of
American and Japanese extraction. "Then I would be able to
communicate with various people and broaden my acting sphere.
   "I want to experience more film projects involving people of
different nationalities and to appear in foreign productions.
   "Vincent Gallo told me he would love to use me if he shoots a
film in Japan. I would love to see that happen."
   "Kujaku" ("Away With Words") opens Aug. 7 at Cine Amuse in
Shibuya. Running time is 90 minutes.

More information about the KineJapan mailing list