Interview – David Sakurai

Follow your dreams, there is just no telling where they will lead you. A mantra we should all live by, David Sakurai did, and now finds himself engulfed in a blossoming career as an actor. Starring in a list of films and television series, most recently, Sakurai has been featured in Netflix’s Iron Fist, the upcoming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and a compelling film entitled Housewife.

Housewife, out on VOD, Digital, as well as DVD October 2, 2018, marks Sakurai’s first exploration into the Horror realm, and he could not be more excited. Taking the time to talk about it all, he sat down for an interview to discuss his love for film, his Japanese and Danish background, working on Housewife, plus more. – You have been involved in entertainment professionally for over a decade, starring in a list of films and televisions series. First, briefly tell us, what inspired you to pursue a career in acting?

David Sakurai – When I really think back, it was always something I was fascinated by, especially film. Growing up, I was always a huge film buff and, thankfully, my mom didn’t have any filter on censoring the films growing up. It opened up my eyes to the world of movies – what was possible and what kind of characters were out there. It is also where I found comfort, at time,s and identification. I grew up in Copenhagen, Denmark – I am half Japanese, my father is Japanese, my mother is Danish. At the time when I grew up there wasn’t a lot, especially in the media or pop culture around me, that I could identify with. I looked at films, and I found in films actors/actresses that seemed to come from the same background as me – being part of the Western/Asian world. Then I moved over here, stateside, and my fascination with film, and eventually I found out it was the acting I wanted to purpose.

It took a while, it’s still an ongoing process to find a road. The things that seemed available growing up, I thought I had to take a different path. For example, Martial Arts has always been part of my household growing up. I thought I would fall into the stereotype and being those kind of projects. I am also a huge fan of Martial Art and Action films, in general, so it was not something that discouraged me that much. I am very thankfully that the last couple of years and projects I have been presented and able to work on have been such a huge variation.

33 Blocks
Marvel/Netflix – You have certainly done a good variation of work. One of your most recent roles is in the film Housewife, which is your first Horror film. How did you become involved with this project?

David Sakurai – I said yes to it before reading the script. Can and I met at a film festival: I was there with Liza the Fox-Fairy (2015) and he was there with Baskin (2015). We shared a cab ride going back to the airport from the festival, and we connected over Martial Arts, UFC fighters, and a little about movies as well. We kept in touch and six months later he wrote to me telling me, “I have this character in mind and your face keeps popping up every time I try to write it.” I asked him, “What is it?” He said, “A manipulative, devilish kind of character.” I said, “Great, I’m flattered.” (Laughs)

For me, when he presented it to me, it seemed like a great love story with all the elements I find fascinating as well. It wasn’t like “I have a Horror movie for you,” it was not like that at all. It was about dreams, how they affect us, coming full circle as a person, going through trauma. I was very fascinated by it! I said to him, “Whatever it turns out to be, I’m in! Please make it happen.” I think Can is a unique filmmaker. A year after that I was standing on set in Istanbul and we were filming Housewife. – It is a very interesting and sometimes bizarre film. Bruce O’Hara is a truly charismatic character in the film. What was it like to have to channel your inner-charisma and portray a man who is, in a sense, a cult leader?

David Sakurai – That was the challenge, that is when I got nervous actually; now I had to live up to Can’s expectations that I could actually pull this off. We talked about other personalities around now, in our time, that do this kind of work for a living, and how we can create our own unique character. It was a mix of a lot of things –  modern teachings, teachings from the past, mysticism. My approach to it was to see him as a rockstar of sorts: he has to have this energy of a rockstar that was above everything else. That was the approach going into that and then kept adding on him as well. The grey hair, that was an idea from a short scene we have where I practice ch’i exercise. We had this idea that maybe I practiced with ch’i energy, that it had done some internal damage to him. It was never something we addressed in the film, but it’s fun to play around with the details of this character.

Housewife still. – You did a great job with the character. Housewife is one of those films where it is very likely that everyone in the audience will walk away with an entirely different interpretation of the film’s content. What do you take away from it?

David Sakurai – I hope the audience will come away with a different opinion and feeling; I think that is what’s extra fascinating about this film. For me, I still see it as a great love story. I know we have certain elements and I know we are labeled in the Horror genre, but I still see it as a great love story. It has really great elements of dreams that I think we can all connect with – there are dreams that can be sweet, they can be scary.

I think it will take audiences for a ride to just be part of that. The way people talk to each other in a dream can also be weirdly unique. All these things are played around in the film and the visual images; they really have such an interesting language themselves. Whether you want to see a great Horror movie, it has these elements. Also, if you want to see a different movie that really takes you on a wild ride. I hope people come into it with an open mind, despite what genre label we have. For me, it’s a great love story, and I will stand by that.

RLJE Films – It will be interesting to see what people’s reactions are. Beyond Housewife, you have a list of other films coming up including Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, which is due out November 16th. What was it like working on that film?

David Sakurai – Fantastic. (Laughs) It was amazing, trust me it was. The first trailer dropped a few days ago, and for me it’s still a blur that I can’t believe we actually did that and I am a part of it. I am so thrilled for it to come out!

It’s fascinating being part of a project that reaches such a large audience and connects us across cultures. I am a part of three different cultures now – my Scandinavian roots, Japanese roots, and based in Los Angeles now. It’s interesting seeing movies like that and it is something we can all connect over. I am really honored to just be part of it!

Pure Flix Entertainment
Warner Bros. Pictures

David Sakurai feature photo credits: Shaun Rana – © Sakurai

For more on David Sakurai: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

Purchase Housewife:

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