tao okamoto
Photo: Getty

Tao Okamoto is what you call an accidental actress. Before the model turned movie star was approached to play the female lead Mariko Yashida in The Wolverine (2013), she had professed on numerous occasions that she was not at all interested in making the leap from fashion catwalk to Hollywood film set. Two words, however, made her change her mind: Hugh Jackman. She had a major crush on the hunky actor and jumped at the chance to make out with him for the movie. (Who can blame her? We’d jump too if given half the chance…)

Fast forward to this year and she’s now got both big and small screen projects under her belt, both in Hollywood and her native land of Japan. It’s clear the girl who once had an entire fashion show dedicated to her unique bowl-cut hairstyle has found her groove in her new craft.

In this exclusive interview, she speaks to us about modelling, acting and playing Mercy Graves for the highly anticipated movie, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

On Acting V Modelling… I’m more passionate about acting because I’m very new [to it] still and I’m learning so much everyday. I’m not going to say I’ve had enough of modelling, but i have experienced a lot of that and I guess it’s time to pass the baton onto the new generation.

On Being an Actress… I was very lucky to begin with such a big movie with a great director like James Mangold and a great actor like Hugh Jackman. The whole thing was just so smooth and perfect for me. But the challenge for me now is to transform into an actress and to be taken seriously; and not just be a model-slash-actress.

On Playing Mercy Graves… I respect actors who have to play signature characters from comic books that have big fans, or have been played by other actors. It’s a big challenge to impress the audience; there must be tremendous pressure. So I was pretty grateful to start with the character that’s never been played [laughs].

On Working on the Movie… Everyone [on set] was super super nice. Jesse [Eisenberg] was always asking me a lot of questions, a lot of them. Whenever we are not shooting, he would throw questions like: “What is Japan like?”; or “What is your favourite Japanese restaurant in New York?” He was always entertaining me, so that was fun for me to be on set with him.

On Challenges on Set… Jesse was improvising so much he wasn’t sticking with the script. And because I kind of memorised the script and what’s going on, he just screws up everything for me [laughs]! I was trying so hard to catch up with everybody, because some of them were like really having fun [improvising] with Jesse. But it was my first time working with somebody like him… that was very challenging for me.

Click here for a chance to win tickets to Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, which hits screens 24 March.

By Charmaine Ho