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Hey all,  Boy #15 met Girl #-001 and nobody died and LMD didnít get arrested.  Not that pulling a Kitano and slapping a collar on the lovely Tatsuya Fujiwara hadnít crossed her mind...

Fujiwaraís unforgettable performances as Shuya Nanahara in one of LMDís top 3 favourite films of all time, 2001ís Battle Royale, and as Light Yagami in 2006ís Death Note films cemented his place as one of Japanís biggest young actors.  Fujiwara was in the Big Apple (pun intended) performing in a stage play and premiering his film, Parade at the Japan Cuts festival.  In this exclusive interview, he kindly chatted with us about his career, past, present and future, and miraculously, LMDís head didnít explode.

Dig it!

 

 Tatsuya Fujiwara

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  Welcome back to New York City.  I understand youíve been here before?

Tatsuya Fujiwara:  I was here in 2005 for a modern play about Yukio Mishima, also at the Lincoln Center festival.

 

LMD:  Your film Parade is screening here at the Japan Cuts film festival. Speaking with Paradeís director, Isao Yukisada, he told me heís known you since you were a teenager starting out doing stage plays and you are currently acting in the play, Musashi at Lincoln Center.  Youíve also done television work, as well.  Between film, television, and stage, which is most fulfilling to you as an actor?

TF:  Thatís a very interesting question.  With film, a film is a work that stands by itself and it travels by itself and crosses borders and goes to all sorts of places around the world and I feel very lucky about that.  With stage work, our physical bodies are very important in expression and so it is harder in a way and itís more of a battle with the world.

 

LMD:  ďA battle with the world,Ē that reminds me of Parade. Your characterís fortune is to fight the world.  Did you have any hesitation about playing such a dark role?

TF:  I had no hesitation.  My joy at being able to work with Mr. Yukisada was much greater.

 

LMD:  You have a very strong following of young fans.  Are you worried that they wonít be able to see a film like this?

TF:  Thatís not something I was overly concerned about.  Through this film I think it would be good if people could take it as an opportunity to reconsider human relationships and also to reaffirm their connection to human beings.  I donít know about America, but in Japan right now thereís a lot of issues with young people coming together through internet cafes or just forming a subculture and then there being crimes and various incidents arising from that sort of grouping of people.  So I think this would also be a very good opportunity to rethink and reevaluate that sort of situation.

 

LMD:  You appear to enjoy playing characters that have many layers or who arenít what they seem at first. Is that what attracts you to the roles you choose?

TF:  Thatís interesting, too.  Iíve had roles where thereís something really big that Iím responsible for, but working in a film like Parade in an ensemble cast of young people my age is something I really enjoyed, as well.

 

LMD:  As I mentioned before, you have a devoted young fan following and you still look like a teenager.  Is it a challenge to get directors or casting agents to consider you for more serious roles like this one in Parade?

TF:  No, not at all.

 

LMD:  Both the films youíre most famous for are being considered for US remakes.  How do you feel about Death Note and Battle Royale being remade?

TF:  I really wish they would cast me in them.  Battle Royale is a film from 10 years ago, but in Japan, 3D films have become very popular, not quite like Avatar but theyíre going to re-release Battle Royale as a 3D film.

 

LMD:  How do you feel about that?

TF:  I just have to leave it up to the people who are going to do that.

 

LMD:  That knife being thrown in 3DÖ

TF: {Laughs}

 

LMD:  When you made Battle Royale 10 years ago, did you have any idea then how controversial it would be?

TF:  No, not at all.

 

LMD:  What do you say about the controversy the film generated and people saying itís too violent or trying to ban it?  The film has still never been released in America.

TF:  I was in my teens at the time I made the movie and so I did have rebellious tendencies toward society and towards adults at the time.  But something I really couldnít understand was the adults who really had a major problem with it and tried to censor it or tried to shut down screenings of it, and I found their actions and their squabbling very petty and very ugly.

But the director {Kinji Fukasaku} was wonderful.

 

LMD:  How deeply do you invest yourself in your characters?  Can you easily walk away from someone like Naoki in Parade?

TF:  It depends on the film.  In the case of Naoki, just normally for my private self, I was very calm about it.

Itís different from America; in Japan, actors are placed in a very difficult situation.  For example, Iíve done four live performances of Musashi and until the day before I came to New York, I was in rehearsals for a different play and then Iím here in New York and once I get back, the next day I have to immediately begin rehearsals again and a week after I get back to Japan, Iíll be opening a new play. Weíre not lucky like American actors. {Laughs}

 

LMD:  Do you have to maintain that schedule for fear theyíll forget you?

TF:  I feel motivated with myself to keep working.  And I feel that because I keep working, I keep running towards my goals, that I do have the opportunity to meet people like this and also to have my films screened in New York.  So for myself, too, I feel that I have to keep working hard.

Itís very easy to lose work.

 

LMD:  What does it mean to have your film screened in New York?

TF:  I think firstly itís a great blessing to have audiences who would otherwise never have seen the movie to enjoy the film.  And whether people like it or not, I think itís wonderful to be able to have one of my films seen around the world.

 

LMD:  Well, youíve also brought a play here to New York City.  How do you feel acting in a play in the theatre capital of the world?  Did that put added pressure on you?

TF:  As far as the play goes, it was a very frightening four days.  We started in London and it went over well there, but when it came up that we were going to New York, it was definitely very nerve wracking to see how the New York audience would respond, but luckily weíve had a positive response.

 

LMD:  Since death is never the end for a well-received movie.  Would you consider playing Light Yagami in another Death Note movie? 

TF:  I donít think itíll be happening. {Laughs}

 

LMD:  How old were you when you started acting?

TF:  Fifteen.

 

LMD:  Youíve worked as an actor from such a young age, and youíve worked with some wonderful directors, but have you considered expanding your role into directing or writing one day?

TF:  No.

 

LMD:  So, then if you want to continue to act, what is your goal?

TF:  I donít have any particular goal, but acting on a stage in New York was very exciting for me, and I would like to keep working more and more and be able to perform in an international arena through my own efforts.

 

LMD:  Would you consider making a Hollywood film?

TF:  No.

 

LMD:  Really?  How are they going to cast you in the Battle Royale or Death Note remake if you donít want to make a Hollywood film?

TF:  {Laughs} If itís a remake, Iíll do it.

 

LMD:  You mentioned how busy youíll be when you go back to Japan but what other projects are coming up next for you?

TF:  When I get back to Japan, thereís the stage play I mentioned that I open in and another film that I made will be opening soon.  Thereís a film I made recently called Kaiji.  I donít know if itís available here, but if you have an opportunity, please watch that.  Itís already been out in theatres in Japan.

 

LMD:  Is there another film youíre working on after the play in Japan?

TF:  That film is not finished, but the story is a little bit similar to Battle Royale; it revolves around ten young people who come together responding to a part-time job ad and they start killing each other.  If you kill somebody, you get twice the money.  If you get killed, you also get twice the money.  If you work as a detective and figure out whatís happening, you get twice the money.  So they kill each other and itís sort of a mystery.  Itís not quite what I was hoping for; I saw a little bit of it and itís maybe a little bit off the mark.

 

LMD:  Maybe theyíll fix it in editing?

TF:  {Laughs}

 

LMD:  Does it have a name?

TF:  Itís a weird title, even in Japanese.  The Japanese title is ďInshite MiruĒ {The Incite Mill}, which is actually English and it sort of translates literally as, ĎDo you wanna try getting inside?í

 

LMD:  Will you please give a message to our readers?

TF:  Iíll be working very hard to participate in great film projects like this one that give me the opportunity to come overseas and meet people outside of Japan.  So, please watch for my next projects.

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

July 10th, 2010

 

 

Special thanks to Mr. Shannon Jowett & Ms. Kuniko Shiobara of Japan Society for their wonderful arrangements, and Ms. Chisato Uno for her flawless translation.

 

 

 

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Photos

Exclusive photos by LMD

Film stills:  Parade courtesy of WoWoW Films

Death Note 1 & 2 courtesy of Viz Pictures

Battle Royale courtesy of Toei Company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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