On Day Two of RT’s "Rogue" set visit, Senh and Phu were in a bit of a time crunch. They had a choice: interview supermodel-turned-actress Devon Aoki, or catch the Canadian premiere of "BloodRayne" with Uwe Boll himself. With time winding down, the only way to cover both things was to split up. Read on to hear how Phu’s one-on-one with Devon went, while Senh went for coffee with the notorious B.O.L.L.
In Phu’s own words: "Before sitting down with the lovely Devon to begin the interview we looked at each other as if we had seen each other before. Then out of nowhere she claimed I was ‘the buff guy from the gym.’ I did not really know what to say — I was quite flattered, honestly. I was thinking, ‘You’re the cute girl from the gym!’ but didn’t have the guts to say it.
It turns out Devon stayed at the same hotel as Senh and I. One night we had dinner and were unknowingly seated across from her and her mom. Devon and I both agreed that the meals from the hotel were not only delightful in taste but awesome in presentation as well compared to other nearby fancy hotels. The second night her mom and her came into the gym to do some cardio on the treadmill machines as Senh and I were pumping some iron — hence the ‘buff guy’ epiphany.
So a word of advice to all you RT readers: be aware of your surroundings, for you never know who you’ll run into."
Rotten Tomatoes: Your character in "Rogue" is Japanese. How long did it take you to learn? Did you speak it before?
Devon Aoki: No. I’m really kind of a California girl. I know I look like I’m straight off the boat from Japan, or China or any of those Asian countries. People always ask, ‘What are you, Asian?’ It was very cool to learn Japanese.
There are all these different nuances; if you say a sentence in Japanese, if you say it wrong with the wrong process, Japanese people aren’t going to know what you’re saying. They complain to me about other movies where someone has played a Japanese character and the dialogue is very difficult to understand, so I thought that I had to do it well enough so that it’s clear.
Devon as French exchange-secret agent-student Dominique in 2004’s "D.E.B.S."
RT: Can you tell us about your role without giving away the plot?
DA: I can tell you a little about my role, but I don’t know if I can tell you about the synopsis of the movie. That’s a loaded question; anything I say will give away the movie, because there are a lot of crazy twists and turns in this one!
My character is the Yakuza boss’s daughter. In the movie they refer to her as being a ‘bitch’, so I have to say she is one. She’s not a nice girl, she never has been. Her dad has raised her to be more of like a Yakuza whore than just a nice little girl. She’s following close to her dad’s footsteps. She wants to fit into his shoes. She wants to be the new leader. She’s basically second in command, but she’s working her way up to being the head of the Yakuza, regardless of the fact that she’s a woman. No one’s going to stand in the way of her doing that, not her uncle, not any of the other Yakuza guys. In this film I boss them around quite a bit.
It was fun, I have to admit. [My character] is her dad’s second in command, and she’s the person who’s making sure the cargo comes in. Basically the whole cargo and shipping subdivision (which is why we’re here at this location) is based on the fact that her father wants very, very precious sculptures, and he will stop at nothing to get them, even if that means killing I don’t know how many people. That’s what he wants. That’s what he thinks he needs for his dynasty. And so this whole movie he’s trying to get his hands on these precious Chinese horses, and she’s making sure that it happens.
My father is played by a really amazing actor, Ryo Ishibashi. He’s a Japanese actor. Working with him was really a pleasure; he helped me to learn my Japanese lines.
Devon, in what will probably be known as the best ever sequel to "The Fast and the Furious"
RT: In today’s scene you’re threatening Jet Li. What has been your favorite scene so far to shoot?
DA: It was really fun for me to shoot the Japanese stuff, so I would have to say the scenes where I speak Japanese because it was something different. I don’t want to disappoint the people in Japan and Asia. I don’t want them to request subtitles because they can’t understand me. I want them to understand me. So I think the scenes where I spoke a lot of Japanese were my favorite.
RT: You are going to be in "DOA: Dead Or Alive," playing Kasumi, who is a badass ninja…
DA: Yes, she’s pretty badass. She’s a little different than this girl; she’s a lot nicer than Kira [in "Rogue"]. Kira is a naughty girl, and very troubled. I think all her life she’s had to follow her father’s footsteps. He doesn’t care if you live or die, and she has had to mimic his irreverence for life. She becomes a very stone-cold woman, on her path of power…"DOA" is going to be very cool.
RT: Can you tell us about the plot of "DOA?"
DA: Yes. My character is Kasumi, and she’s a princess. She’s never been outside the palace walls. She’s been very, very sheltered, because she’s a princess and that’s the way it is…until the point where she actually decides to leave, she’s basically been pretty sheltered but she’s a capable fighter.
She finds out that her brother went to a DOA tournament, and he didn’t come home. She wants to know if he’s dead and why, and how can she make things better for herself and her family, because her brother was to be king. So she leaves the palace walls much to the dismay of everyone around her, including her loyal servant who is played by Kane [Kosugi]. Then she has this crazy half-sister who wants to kill her. She becomes a Shinobi, who is someone who has left the clan, and has basically wronged them.
This crazy half-sister is on this revenge quest to kill her, so she has the half-sister following her around. Her servant boy, who she has a crush on, and is a very skilled ninja, he’s following her to make sure she’s OK. So basically she goes to the DOA tournament a year later, where she’s snooping around to find out about her brother.
While she’s there, she has to fight people from all over the world. She is exposed to all these American things she’s never been exposed to before. She’s like a delicate little flower princess – well, not so delicate. It’s just an eye-opening experience for her.
RT: Corey Yuen is the action choreographer in "DOA," yet you don’t seem to be doing action scenes in this movie.
DA: No, not so much. That’s what’s kind of cool about it, is that my character is not a ninja. She’s so capable that she can fight anybody, but her job is not to protect anyone, it’s not to serve anybody, it’s not to fight anybody. Her role is to further the clan. So that’s what was a little bit different in this one. I didn’t have to do any stunts, which is good and bad, because I don’t go home with bruises, but at the same time I didn’t get to spend as much time with Corey as I would have liked. But all in all it was a lot of fun for me.
RT: Do you feel any pressure from being one of the highest profile Asian-American actresses?
DA: Yeah, I have to admit I do. I don’t see a lot of Asian faces who get to be on screen or get to be in print as a fashion model, or who get to be in the media. I grew up always knowing that I was Asian and always knowing that I was closely tied to all Asian people be they from Japan or China.
My mom is German-English. I grew up with my mom, but I can’t escape the way I look and my whole life I’ve had a strong sense of self because of it. I’ve watched my father (Benihana restaurateur Rocky Aoki) and all of the achievements he’s made; I’ve always wanted to follow in his footsteps in some ways in changing the dynamic of how Asians are interpreted.
I think it’s really important as an Asian to work hard, to be dedicated, and to ultimately prove that I deserve to be here. As a young girl I always looked up to Asian celebs — if there was an Asian person on the screen, I was watching that Asian person. There weren’t a lot of people who were even allowed to represent for our culture, being from the East. So every movie I do, that’s a thought in my head that I have to represent for Asian people. That’s really important to me.
Also on Aoki’s slate, the return of silent-but-deadly assassin Miho in "Sin City 2"
RT: What was the first film that you noticed an Asian actor in?
DA: "Seven Samurai." I’m pretty old-school, I’ve been watching Asian films for a long time. One of my all-time favorites is "Sayonara;" Marlon Brando was in it. I’ve watched that film three or four times because I could relate to seeing an Asian face on the screen that was beautiful and elegant and who was the star (Miiko Taka), and I liked that.
Of course modern movies, I’m a sucker for kung fu movies. I love Jet Li, I love Jackie Chan. I love all the new films coming out of China: "Hero," "Crouching Tiger," and the stuff Corey has been working on. His life’s work has been some of the best films to come out of Asia. He basically discovered Jet Li. I live for that stuff. I live to see young Asian girls doing it, older Asian women doing it, it’s really important to me.
I guess I could say one of my favorite movies was "Sayonara." I love Marlon Brando too.
RT: Who doesn’t?
Stay tuned for more on-set interviews with "Rogue" choreographer (and "DOA: Dead or Alive" director) Corey Yuen and action star Jet Li! Check out the "Rogue" movie page for more info and photos from the Jet-Jason Statham pic!