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The House of Flying Daggers - Takeshi Kaneshiro Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. How did you get involved with House of Flying Daggers?
A.
The director [Zhang Yimou] asked me, do you want to do this role and I was like yes, why not. For me it was a shock because I never would have thought that he would have asked me to be in the movie so it was a surprise.

Q. Were you a big fan of Hero?
A.
Me? Well I love his movies and I have seen a lot of them, that's why I like him, but I never thought that he would ask me. I saw Hero after he asked me for this job, because at that time it was around the time that it was coming out. I love Hero.

Q. What aspects of the film are your favourites?
A.
The attraction to the movie is number one Zhang Yimou, the director. Secondly I'm also attracted to the story because it's a story about passion and about love and, to me, The House of Flying Daggers is a love story, really.

Q. Is this your first time working with mainline Chinese film-maker?
A.
Yes.

Q. You've said you were worried at first about taking on the role because you were worried about making mistakes. What did the director do to reassure you?
A.
Well because this is my first costume movie and my first mainland Chinese movie, and it's by such a great director and great co-actors, so for me it was lots of pressure, because I'd never done a costume movie and it's set in ancient times I have no idea even how to walk with the costume.
Everything was weird for me, so I needed his advice and I asked him every scene, every time how should I do this, how should I speak this dialogue, what kind of movement or how fast should I go.
I asked him every time. I think that he helped me a lot. He's good at directing and teaching acting and getting the emotion to the points he wants. Because he can act, sometimes he could show me.

Q. Is the your first martial arts film?
A.
No, I've done a few in the past.

Q. So what difference is there between this one and the ones you've done in the past?
A.
Every director is different. I think Zhang Yimou is very patient and passionate in his movie about what he wants to tell.
When we work in the past, he would be the first one to wake up in the morning and look at the weather and worry about his movie and he would be the last one to sleep because he might think about what he did that day and think again about what he wants.
So every day was like that. He's always sitting in a corner thinking about his movie and when he talks he's always talking about his movie. He's great.

Q. What kind of role do you prefer, because most people consider you to be a romantic lead?
A.
I want to try everything, actually. I want to try something I've never done. Of course, our job, it's some one will find you and ask you to do something, it's not a question of, 'hey, I want to hero, I want to be a lover'. You don't always get what you want, but I'll try and do something that I have never really done before so I can really challenge myself. It could be comedy, it could be something else.

Q. Do you think the success and high profile of House of Flying Dagger will open more doors?
A.
As a performer, as someone who's in the entertainment field, I want my movies to be popular and I want people to watch my movies.
If people like my acting, then maybe I'll have better opportunities for the next role. House of Flying Daggers is no exception.
But I'd like to emphasise that I want to concentrate on acting and this film because of the reputation of Zhang Yimou and Zhang Zhihi, maybe it's gone more international. It's a good thing, but I don't want to over-emphasise that aspect. I will still care even if doesn't become an international hit and act as usual.

Q. Did you start as a pop star?
A.
Yes.

Q. And how did you get that break?
A.
Coincidence. Yeah, coincidence. When I was in school I didn't think about what I would do, I didn't know what college I would go to. I didn't want to be a singer or an actor, I never had this thought.
But I just started because someone asked me to. They said, 'you want to be a singer', and then I thought 'yeah, I'll try'. I don't know what this is. I'll just open the box and jump in.

Q. Was this in Taiwan?
A.
Yes it was in Taiwan. I think the very beginning was, I did some commercials as a model, and then started as a pop singer and then started acting. [laughs]

Q. Were you really famous as a singer?
A.
I don't know [modestly shakes his head ­ big in China and Japan apparently]

 

Q. When you decided to become an actor was it difficult to get people to take you seriously as an actor?
A.
Yeah, even though during the singing career I was a pop singer, but I could write a few songs, I could write a little, so I tried to write a few songs and hoped that people would listen to what you did.
But you find that it's not so much about what you wrote, it's more about [pauses to think of a good way to explain] - the package.
So I feel like, okay. Then I made movies and did some movies and it seemed like I could act.
At the beginning, it almost seemed that I was taking some time out from singing. But in the beginning, because I was attracted to the whole of the movie-making process, like acting and how it was all done there were more and more opportunities for me.
So that's how I was attracted to acting. So I haven't gone back to music; so that's how it's taken me so far.

Q. Do you have any plans to go to Hollywood?
A.
No, I don't have any plans to go to Hollywood.

Q. So what are you planning next?
A.
I don't have any plans. My plan is to wait. If there's a good role in Asia I would do. If there are good roles in Hollywood, or other countries, if you like it why not, you can try.

Q. Where are you based?
A.
Taiwan and Japan

Q. Do you have anyone planning your career?
A.
Yes I have always had an agent who helped me with my career, but it's not a case of if your agent plans it, it's going to happen.
In Hong Kong, sometimes they package an actor as a product that they can sell to Hollywood.
At the moment, I'm using a Taiwan agent. You could think about doing that, but it would take too much to actually make it happen.
As long as the role is interesting, it doesn't matter what the film is, or who wants me to be in it, or which country it's going to be made in.

Q. Where did you learn to speak different languages and how many do you speak?
A.
I was born in Taiwan and grew up in Taiwan and my mother was Taiwanese, so I speak Taiwanese.
My father is Japanese and in Taiwan I went to Japanese school. I didn't go to Chinese school at all.
So I speak Japanese. And because, in Taiwan, becaue they also speak Chinese, I learned how to speak Japanese.
Then I went to an American high school, but I only went for two and a half years, which is why my English is so bad [laughs].
And then because of my career, I went to Hong Kong and stayed there for a while because at that time Hong Kong had many movies. I tried some of them.
I spent a long time in Hong Kong, so I had to learn Hong Kong Cantonese, because even though you speak Chinese, you don't speak their Chinese, so you say don't speak Chinese, speak Cantonese, I can guess. That's why I can speak a little Chinese.

Q. Did you feel you had to learn some martial arts to be a film star or did that come from specific roles?
A.
No, I think it's different. Not everybody wants to be Jackie Chan. Jackie Chan is Jackie Chan. Jet Li is Jet Li. You just be who you are. You don't say, 'okay I can be Jackie Chan'.

Q. Okay, but did you feel it would be useful to learn some martial arts just in case, or was did you just do it for a specific film, because you've said you've done a few martial arts films?
A.
No, it was for specific films. It's more that I think I will prepare my self for a specific film depending on what's needed than thinking I need to have martial arts to continue with my acting career.
I don't think that because some actors might want to have a variety of skills, but that's them. I don't think everybody can do what Jackie Chan can do, so I'm not going to try to do what he does. I'll try to be me and just prepare myself for specific films.

Q. How much preparation went into House of Flying Daggers?
A.
For this one I practised the basics of using a sword for around one month.
We just did the basics because we didn't know what would be in the role because the action director, he likes to arrange the scenes and the details on set.
So we could only do the basics. Every day you would wake up, go to the set and watch them arrange the fights. So it was great to watch that. Then I would practice and then shoot.

Q. You seemed quite adept at the bow and arrow?
A.
Well, eh, it's computer graphics [laughs] what can I say? I shot some.

Q. What do you think about Zhang Ziyi, do you think she's a good actress?
A.
Well, first I met her the image I had of her was that she can fight, but after we worked, I found out that she was very good at the drama too.
And she and Andy Lau, both were very strict with themselves. They keep wanting to do better than the last take and always aim for perfection.

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