Making his film debut at the age of 20, Takeshi Kaneshiro has been a household name for most of his career. But over 40 films and 23 years later, the man himself remains a mysterious force who continues to capture the imagination of the audience. BAZAAR speaks to the man to talk about new acting experiences, favourite movie genres and his favourite directors.
Harper’s BAZAAR: When interviewed on his role in Warcraft, Daniel Wu shared that he was happy that the audience can finally see beyond his looks. Would such an experience excite you?
Takeshi Kaneshiro: That is what I ask of myself in every role I play. It has nothing to do with letting the audience see me in the role; it’s about my ability to make the character come alive. I feel that that is my only responsibility when we agree to act in a movie. The focus should be on the character, not my looks.
HB: You have only partnered a few directors in recent years — John Woo and Peter Chan.
TK: It’s not that I only work with them; it’s just that I have worked with them before so when they invite me to act, it’s easier for them to persuade me.
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HB: Do you still find it hard to reject them?
TK: I still try to reject them, but they keep persuading me. It’s hard to reject directors of their calibre. Should I agree, I always hope to enrich the character further. I do also consider other directors but would reject them if I don’t feel an affinity for the roles they offer at the time.
HB: Is comedy challenging?
TK: Yes! There are many different types of comedy — from dark comedy to exaggerated comical styles. Even those that the general audience see as shallow slapstick is challenging. It takes a lot to make people laugh and you fail if no one laughs. That said, acting in a comedy is fun; It’s very relaxing. It can be hilarious to see how the director, for example Chu Yen-Ping, directs you on how to act out a role; he can make you realise how funny a scene can be.
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HB: Is it difficult to make you laugh?
TK: It is quite difficult to make me laugh or cry; it has nothing to do with one’s proficiency. When we get older, it gets harder to laugh at jokes that you have already heard before. It all boils down to individual styles. Or, we may not understand the same joke if we are from different cultural backgrounds.
HB: Who is your favourite comedian?
TK: I have many. Stephen Chow is one of them, but I have never acted in any of his movies. If he looks for me, the script need not factor into my decision to say yes as I’ll trust that he would have taken care of every factor.
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HB: How did it feel to work with Tony Leung again in See You Tomorrow?
TK: There have been three movies where I’ve had the chance to interact with Tony. We share a similar trait of being a man of few words. We chat about food and wine.
HB: What movie genre do you like?
TK: All genres. Sometimes, I simply watch movies because it is part of my work. I watch how my co-stars act in other movies or just to learn more about the world. I don’t have a preference for any genre but I do prefer watching movies alone.
HB: Do you watch commercial films?
TK: I usually head to the cinema to catch films that are a must-watch. If the aesthetics are good, I will only watch it if I have access to a bigger space or where I can watch it on a projector. It’s a sign of respect for the production team, to experience the blood, sweat and tears that went in.
By Lv Yanni
Photographed by Chen Man
Styled by Yoshiyuki Shimazu
Makeup: Man Yun Ling
Hair: Matt Chau
Overall production: Song Fei
Planning: Wilson Huang
Design: Jiang Nan
Editors: Song Fei, Huang Jingzhe
Assistant: Jacqueline Li
Special thanks to Hoshino Resorts/Hoshino Gsa