If there is a face to look out for today, then it is without a doubt David Sakurai. The Japanese-Danish martial artist and actor got his acting and filmmaker training in Japan, where after making a few films there, returned home to Denmark to embark on a successful career there. During WFG’s days at Kung Fu Cinema, Sakurai’s short film Echoes of a Ronin gained some rave with his star role on the rise.
It was inevitable that he would be unleashed in Hollywood. Aside from his upcoming role in the sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, David takes the central role of the charismatic cult leader Bruce O’Hara in the horror film Housewife, coming to DVD, VOD, and Digital HD on October 2.
World Film Geek had the chance to talk with Sakurai about his role as the charismatic O’Hara.
David, I have been following your career for a while, from my days at Kung Fu Cinema when you starred in Echoes of a Ronin. This is a welcome departure from what I’m used to and bottom line, you were great in this film.
Oh man! That was you? That’s awesome. I am so glad you saw Echoes of a Ronin. I used to get my daily fix from Kung Fu Cinema (laughs).
How were you approached to take the role of cult leader Bruce O’Hara?
It was definitely a challenge. I was confident that Can Evrenol wrote the character with me in mind. I don’t know what that means (laughs). I had seen Can’s previous work and had really wanted to work with him. I thought he was a fascinating filmmaker. When he approached me, I was wondering how he wanted me to play the role.
The challenge was to live up to his expectations as well. He had seen me in this film called Liza, the Fox Fairy, a Hungarian movie where I played this rock star ghost. He was smiling and singing and dancing. So then, it was about how to bring some common elements to this character as well. I do like a challenge, and I did research on modern day teachers, gurus, and self-help coaches around that we were inspired by. But we had to draw from what was close to us, which was Eastern mysticism and rock stars. So Bruce was like a corporate rock star.
I saw some clips of your wonderful performance in Liza the Fox Fairy and saw a bit of that in Bruce in his short dance intro in the seminar sequence. Were you given some free reign on how to bring the character to life?
(Laughs) Yeah, absolutely. It was also about how we can make it different from what we seen before, especially today when there are lot of chat talks. So we were getting the scene ready and Can told me, “okay, get up there and dance”. And I said, you want me to just dance? He said yep, let’s make it work. So, it was having that confidence to do it and then have that talk without boring the audience to death. It was very interesting going into that scene. I looked at a lot of other people and see they had this strong confidence and I did my research to reach that element. For them, it’s about the situation around them and the fact we are fascinated by it, by confidence and strong personalities.
What was it like working with Clémentine Poidatz, who plays Holly? Her performance was quite intriguing throughout the film.
Clémentine was really the one who was pulling me through it to be honest. On set, Can was the dad, making sure that everything happened as it should. But Clémentine, she was really my guide through the whole project. She has the greatest spirit around her. She’s very fascinating to be around and that’s an element I had to find in her for this character and for our connection. That was very easy to find. She has this energy around her. I think she carried the movie very well, everything weighed on her shoulders. I was along for the ride, but I was resting on her. Not just her, but Alicia [Kapudag] and Ali [Aksöz], they were just a fascinating group of actors to be around and really great people.
What would you say is your favorite scene of the film?
Oh man! To be honest, it was fascinating afterwards, my introduction scene. The speech I had to do was on paper, but when we shot it, it took much longer. I had to go into that day having to do a full-on seminar. Kept talking and talking. I had a long speech. It was really tough and I had to figure out what this whole seminar was about. But once, we finished it, that felt good. But, when we shot it, I was dreading it and I had all these extras looking at me and I was worried they would fall asleep, listening to my speech (laughs).
That must have been why you’re seen doing a Tai Chi, martial arts like form before the seminar. I was thinking, to get those nerves out (laughs).
(Laughs) Yeah, we have this chi energy. Can himself is a martial arts expert so that’s one element we really connected over. Going into the project, he actually took me to some Jiu-jitsu classes and we actually rolled together and he said, yeah, now we can work together (laughs). My scenes with Clémentine were great as well so I was excited to work with her.
I’m excited that you will be in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Are there any other new projects that you can talk about that you are excited about?
Fantastic Beasts is the first big one, you know. I was actually talking about it two days and it’s still a blur. Being a part of that was great, being part of that whole universe. I’m also going to be a part of a new series that’s debuting on YouTube Red called Origin. It’s produced by Paul W.S. Anderson, who did the Resident Evil films and of course, Mortal Kombat. It’s a sci-fi series written by Mika Watkins, who is also half-Japanese. It’s like Lost, but done as a sci-fi series. I will be playing one of the characters on that show. It’s a great show to be a part of and it’s done in the Paul Anderson.
And I have to say this, I hope you get to lead a martial arts film soon, because I want to see you kicking some butt again soon.
(Laughs)Thank you brother! It’s going to happen. I do have something in the works. I’m working with Lene Børglum, who produced The Neon Demon, Valhalla Rising, and others. We have something in development right now and when we’re ready, we’ll announce it.
Housewife comes to DVD, VOD, and Digital HD on October 2. Horror fans will definitely want to see this film for its disturbing moments but see something different in terms of cult leaders with your wonderful charismatic performance. Thank you so much again David for talking about the film and we’ll definitely have to keep in touch.
Thank you so much! It’s great talking to you again and yeah, we definitely will keep in touch!
A special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and David Sakurai for making this interview possible. For more on David and his upcoming projects, go to his Twitter page.