Monday, June 5, 2017

Jang Keun Suk's Human Time Actor Joe Odagiri - 2017-06-04

This is the third in the series about Human Times. Although Odagiri plays a cameo role in the film as the boyfriend of Eve, played by Mini Fujii, his accomplishments and skills are more than worth mentioning.

Joe Odagiri Filmography

Top line is that both Jang Keun Suk and Kim Ki Duk know Joe Odagiri. JKS met Odagiri in Japan, and since they share many common interests, such as acting, directing and music as well as drinking and smoking, they surely have a great many things to talk about when they meet up. Kim Ki Duk met Odagiri nearly 10 years ago, when Kim hired him as the male lead in Dream. Since then, Odagiri has gone on to become one of Japan's foremost and most beloved actors.

Joe Odagiri, born Odagiri Jo in Okayama Prefecture, Japan, has a long list of films, dramas, and TV movies to his credits. However, he’s best known for preferring Art House films in which to perform. He’s often described as "a rebel, something made evident by his grungy, gothic style”, and is commonly known as the Johnny Depp or James Dean of Japan. Athough he has a very high profile in Japan and elsewhere because of his acting prowess, he says he very shy. He says he's like everyone, with a private face which is shy and public face which he needs to continue acting. As a shy person, he often becomes the observer of others, watching them while remaining in solitude. Perhaps, that ability to observe humans has helped him become such a unique and great actor.

Odagiri, once he completed high school, moved to California to attend Fresno State (California State University, Fresno) to study directing. However, due to a mixup in his paperwork, he was enrolled in the acting program. He often says Fresno is his second home.

“I originally wanted to become a director and happened to be an actor. Writing scripts and shooting movies are what I wanted to do in the first place. But I took acting classes by mistake. So I still enjoy writing scripts and editing more than performing. And I would like to keep doing them. But I will not make mainstream movies. I just shoot, and show it to the people around me. This is the direction I would head for and stay in.”

Two years after studying in Fresno and later starring in a few stage performances in Japan, Odagiri would find himself catapulted to fame in his role in the Kamen-Rider series, playing the central character, Godai Yuusuke. He became the predecessor of the "Ikemen Hero" craze (literally, "good-looking actors playing hero roles in popular TV series"). He is also well known by much of the tokusatsu fandom in his starring role as Yusuke Godai from Kamen Rider Kuuga. However, Odagiri has expressed on multiple occasions his difficulty playing the role.

Since then, Odagiri has appeared in a long list of movies and dramas. He won the Best New Actor Award at the 2003 Japan Academy Awards for his role as the uniquely bisexual nemesis in the film Azumi, and in the following year, was awarded the Best Supporting Actor Award for his electrifying performance in internationally acclaimed director Kitano Takeshi's 2004 film, Blood and Bones.

“When I receive a script, instead of focusing on the story I often try to imagine how the finished work will look as moving images. I look at the character that I'd be playing; if it's interesting enough, chances are I'd like to take part in the film.”

The Actor also played the main role in movies such as Katsuhiro Otomo, Shinobi: The Blade of Heart, Shinobi (2005), a tale of warring ninja tribes in feudal era Japan, Azumi, playing Bijomaru Mogami which made him very famous in Brazil, and many other movies and dramas.

In addition, he has starred in such films as the Katsuhiro Otomo-directed live-action movie adaptation of the manga and anime series, Mushishi, where he was featured as the main character, Ginko. And Odagiri potrayed different roles in television shows such as Hei no Naka no Chuugakkou, Atami no Sousakan, Shinya Shokudo and many more.

“The reason I take part in TV dramas is that there are things that only they can offer me, such as sponsors and audiences. As my TV audience ranges from children to elderly people, the plots of my TV dramas are usually quite easy to understand. I see it as a challenge to make a breakthrough with these straightforward stories. Charismatic projects are few and far between in Japanese cinema today, but it's hard to make money if you don't work in mainstream movies. That is unfortunate.”

Akarui Mirai was the first movie that I took a leading role. At that time, the only thing I had was motivation or passion. I wanted to act so much, and tried to invest 120 percent of myself into this movie. The director told me each and every day, "Odagiri san, you do not have to act that much". I was emotionally plunging forward and spinning my wheels. I fondly remember those pure days.

“As I know how flawed I am, I'm drawn to characters exuding such human foibles. It's probably because I empathize with them, or they have flaws that I have. I can be good at playing the part. It might be out of my confidence that I can make the best use of what I have for this character. Well, I guess, because I have many things that I feel inferior about, I choose those strange roles.”

He's also become a favorite of directors all over Asia, giving him the chance to work alongside some of the region's biggest stars, like Jang Dong-gun, and Maggie Q, in the Chinese historical action film, The Warrior and the Wolf. In The Warrior and the Wolf, a film directed by celebrated Chinese auteur, Tian Zhuang Zhuang, Odagiri plays a gentle shepherd, skilled in the art of war but conflicted about killing. Years of battle eventually take their toll and, when he finds himself trapped in a mysterious village by a raging snowstorm, he attacks a young widow and his descent into depravity is complete.

As mentioned above, he worked with Kim Ki Duk in 2008 on Dream. Kim Ki Duk first became interested in Odagiri after watching his performance in the Japanese film,Sway. Per AsianWiki, Dream places heavy emphasizes on the butterfly as a symbolic imagery in the film. Another famous story about a butterfly is the butterfly dream in Chuang Tzu: “I know not whether I was a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.”

In 2011, Odagiri, going contrary to his norm, accepted a role in CJ E&M’s big-budget, global star studded cast, World War II action drama, My Way. The movie is based on a fierce rivalry between two men, one Korean and the other Japanese. The rivalry spirals out of control and the Korean becomes conscripted into the Japanese army to fight in Russia. My Way was a blockbuster on a scale rarely produced in Asia, costing more than 28 billion won.

Odagiri has also co-starred with Zhang Ziyi in Seijun Suzuki's Princess Raccoon; with Tadanobu Asano and Tatsuya Fuji in Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Bright Future; and with Ryo Kase in Lee Sang-il's Scrap Heaven. In addition, he has starred in films such as Atsushi Funahashi's Big River; Masanori Tominaga's The Pavillion Salamandre; Junji Sakamoto's Out of This World; Shinji Aoyama's Sad Vacation; and Hirokazu Koreeda's I Wish, plus many other films.

In addition to his acting, Joe Odagiri is screening of 2 of his own films which he directed, Her Love Boils Bathwater and Over The Fence, at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival, and in 2009 Looking for Cherry Blossoms was showcased at the Rotterdam Film Festival.

Odagir has won numerous different awards, including Best New Actor for Azumi (2003); Japan Academy Awards, Best Actor for Bright Future (2003): Japanese Professional Movie Award, Ishihara Yujiro New Actor Award for Blood and Bones (20040; Nikkan Sports Film Awards, and many more.

He is a man with a thousand faces; thus, the reason why he′s a beloved actor in Japan.



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