Interview with Actor Louis Ozawa Changchien on Upcoming Film “Predators”
(This article was originally posted in Japanese at 11:29 Jan. 08, 2010)
Robert Rodriguez's Predators(directed by Nimrod Antal), sequel to the horror flick classic Predator(1987), is to come out in Summer 2010.
Louis Ozawa Changchien is a Japanese American actor who is casted as Hanzo, one of the people abducted by Predators who must fight for his life in the alien's hunting field on an alien planet. We got a chance to interview him during his visit to Japan this holidays, and he revealed us bunch of interesting details on the upcoming film.
Interview and pics after the cut!
♦About the Filming
Gigazine (G): We hear Predators is to hit the theatres in the U.S. this July. How's the filming going?
Louis Ozawa Changchien (L): We're really making progress. There's only one week left of shooting.
G: How long was the whole shooting?
L: Three months in all. Three weeks in Hawaii, two and a half month in Texas. So the major part was done in Texas.
G: Why Hawaii and Texas?
L: Many films are shot in Hawaii since it's a safe place. The insects there can be annoying but there's no malaria, and there's no snakes.
G: There are no snakes in Hawaii?
L: None at all. You didn't know it? It's true. Hawaii has no snakes, though they do get tsunamis.
G: How about Texas? Aren't there many snakes in Texas?
L: But we didn't see any since we shot during the winter. The location at Texas was made to look exactly like an alien planet. We shot on a land washed by flood, a sandy place, and it looked just like you're walking on the moon.
G: Flood in Texas?
L: Actually, Texas is the most flood-prone state in the U.S. You'd think of Minnesota as the lake state but Texas' got even more lakes than Minnesota. Anyway, the shooting is going smoothly, we'll finish filming in a week and then go in to postproduction.
G: What other places did you shoot, aside from the studio in Austin?
L: There's a swimming hole called Hamilton Pool in Texas, with beautiful blue water, waterfalls, caves, which was one of our location. We also shot at Valley of the Kings(Iao Valley) in West Maui.
G: How did the shooting in the main studio (Troublemaker Studios of Robert Rodriguez uses the Austin Studios facilities) went?
L: The studio's located at the former site of an airport, and it is also where Sin City was shot. They propped up 40 or so stowages and filled the place with real rocks and stones and trees to build a jungle set full of real plants, the most elaborate set I've seen in my career. Of course it must be expensive, but it really did look like a Hawaiian jungle. That was the "Hunting Camp" where most of the story takes place.
♦ The Cast of Predators
G: It was reported on December 18 that Laurence Fishburne, known for his role Morpheus in The Matrix, is also casted. Is it true?
L: Yes, it is. We were nagging them everyday like "Is Fishburne really coming?" but all of us were excited to find out indeed he is. There were many rumours at first, like it will be Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, or even Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I'm glad Laurence was casted in the end. It's a really interesting role, quite different from Morpheus. A bit shady, crazy, surviving on his own, kind of a ratty character. I didn't know anything about his role, and we all went to see the rehearsal. It was quite a surprise.
G: How was he received by the other cast?
L: Of course he's very admired and we all look up to him. He's done many outstanding acting in his career. Since The Matrix became so popular many people think of him as Morpheus, but personally I liked him since his earlier films. He's also a great Broadway actor.
G: It was reported that he visited the set on December 14 and very much admired it. What do you think he saw there?
L: He must have seen the aforementioned jungle set, and there are also indoor sets of the residence of Fishburne's character, so I guess he's seen it too. His character managed to survive 10 years on the alien's planet living in a cave.
G: So he is a king of survival?
L: You can say that. He's definitely a good fighter but also good at escaping.
G: Did you see the much praised "miniature set"?
L: The miniature is a model for the actual set, so we don't shoot the miniature. Life-sized set are built based on the miniature, and that is the "Hunting Camp", the large jungle set.
G: What actually does the Hunting Camp look like?
L: It's hard to explain. Not anything you'll ordinarily see, there are meat hanging, and....
G: So it's like a butcher shop rather than a forest?
L: Right. Kind of like a barbecue pit, always reeking smoke...
G: Smoky, as in that scene from Black Rain?
L: Sort of. And that reminds me that my Kendo teacher appears in Black Rain, by the way, casted as Ken Takakura's son though he's actually only ten years younger than Takakura.
♦ The Story of Predators
G: The synopsis on IMDb says "A group of elite warriors are hunted by members of a merciless alien race known as Predators." , and you are casted as "Hanzo". What is he like?
L: He's basically a mean yakuza. A yakuza abducted by the Predators.
G: Why was he abducted?
L: He's not the boss in the yakuza family but obviously not a no-one. He's probably a right-hand man sort of guy, very much feared and very skilled. Excellent gun man and also competent with a sword.
G: So his fighting skill attracted the attention of Predators?
L: I guess so. That part is not explained in the movie, everyone is suddenly abducted and dropped on the Hunting Camp, so they're not aware of where they are or why they were dropped there. They all gradually become aware of the situation and surroundings.
G: Was it easy to get into your role?
L: It was a bit challenging, in fact. He's the silent type, man of very few words, whereas I'm very talkative and love joking around. As Hanzo, I have to be cool and collected for a change.
G: Is Hanzo a cold-blooded killer?
L: I guess he used to be, a guy who can murder someone without a qualm, but by the time he arrives to the Hunting Camp, he'll no longer be that kind of person. Those things aren't explained in the script, but you'll get it when you see the movie.
G: Can you tell us what he looks like?
L: His outfit is a grey three-piece suit, slinging a Beretta on his shoulder. His other weapon is a Japanese sword he finds in the Hunting Camp. It was left there by a 15th century samurai, who was probably killed there.
G: How long has Fishburne's character been living in the Hunting Camp?
L: Around ten years, I guess. Ten years, all on his own! You'd wonder what he's been eating. Must have been living on quite exotic diet.
G: Guess you can't tell us the storyline, but which title in the past Predator franchise do you feel is the closest to the new film?
L: The first film. There's a lot of homage to the '87 Predator, and fans must be able to recognise some characters as reincarnation from the original film. Some people see Arnold in my character, Hanzo.
G: So we'd better watch Predator again before the new film?
L: That'll be recommended. I always liked the film but seeing it again, you'll be reminded how rightfully it's considered a classic. You can clearly see how original it was.
G: They were also quite groundbreaking, look-wise. Predators have a kind of samurai-ish aspect, and they were the first alien creatures of the kind.
L: Certainly. A samurai with dreadlocks. They wear Japanese armours with Jamaican hairdo, with kinky fishnet stockings to boot!
G: So, how did you came to be casted in Predators?
L: I'm kind of in the dark there. Well, of course I auditioned, but I don't know why I was chosen. I kind of have this "silent strength" thing, since I've been practicing Kendo for long, or maybe it was the chemistry thing with other actors. I haven't talked about those stuff with the director yet, so maybe I should ask about it the next time I see him. I did hear there were other Japanese candidates. FOX kept asking me whether I'm really Japanese or not, until the end, so I had to explain that although my father is Taiwanese, my mother is Japanese and they met in Japan, married in Japan...the whole story.
So, as a Japanese I had a lot to say on Hanzo's action stunts, since the stunt men were all excellent but they all moved like kung-fu. When you think about it, the fight scene in Kill Bill took place in Japan and those people were supposed to be Japanese, but their moves were all kung-fu. So I begged them to please let me do all my own stunts, and to let my Kendo teacher in. As it turns out, director Nimrod Antal is also quite fond of Kendo so he agreed.
Unfortunately, filming of the swordfight coincided with my teacher's important Eighth-dan examination, plus the filming was delayed time and again due to bad weather, but he put the filming in Texas before his examination. I've been learning from him since I was five, so he's like a second father to me by now.
G: In closing, can you give our readers a message?
L: Don't miss it! I guess it'll come out in Japan this summer? Do see it on the big screen! And you should get the DVD, too!
By the way, this is the New Year's Card we got from Fox Japan, who arranged this interview. You can see upcoming titles like Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, The A-Team, Knight and Day, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Jack Black film Gulliver's Travels and Denzel Washington film Unstoppable. Click to enlarge.
The filming will be finished by the time this interview comes out, so maybe we get to see a trailer by spring. Let's look forward to it!
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