PORTRAIT CITY SERIES: TOKYO
Photographed by Shin Hamada
Location: Futako-Tamagawa, Tokyo
Well respected in the Japanese film industry, actor Ryo Kase is a passionate and talented individual making his mark with authenticity, rigour and stellar talent.
His genuine dedication to his craft, has seen him work on over 50 carefully selected films, from directors such as Clint Eastwood in ‘Letters From Iwo Jima, ‘Gus Van San in ‘Restless‘, and Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano in ‘Beyond Outrage‘.
Born in Yokohama, Japan, and raised in the States, his background provides him with a cutting edge of authority seen in the characters he portrays.
His integrity is as strong as his talent, and passion for film admirably irrepressible.
We caught up with Ryo on the banks of the Tama River in Futago-Tamagawa, Tokyo, for a brief yet genuine and insightful chat about his thoughts
on the film industry, and bridging both cultures in his work.
Firstly, please tell us about your day so far.
My life is good and normal, yet every day is different.
As an actor, is there any way to really prepare for a role?
I don’t have a specific way to prepare for the role, but I like to lie down on the couch for a while after I read the script and age images.
You have played a diverse and intriguing set of characters. From an intimidating yakuza in Takeshi Kitano’s Beyond Outrage, to a young mans companion ghost in Gus Van Sant’s Restless. How do you these roles vary for you?
I just had great luck to meet good directors. They always involved me and invited me into their world, giving me different masks to wear, which I got passionate about.
Raised in Japan and the US, how do both cultures influence your own perspective?
Some of my best moments in my life that I remember are from my early days in the U.S. Japan is ok, but sometimes I feel it is hard to breath. Even now, I still feel like I am a stranger here. I really don’t know how that transition has effected me with my relation to films. But in the U.S., it was really natural for me to be surrounded by many others from different cultures and backgrounds, so that might made me think to have no distinction to depending on where the film was made.
Your integrity for the craft of acting is evident in the roles you choose, and the actors you work with. Each are stellar performances.
What is your personal view on the film industry today?
The Film Industry… I hope that it survives.
What was your most challenging role, and why?
I am not sure. Every role was meaningful for me, and I still hold a lot of of good memories from each.
But I think working with Hong Sang-soo (Korean Director) has been the best film experience for me so far.
Is there something in your work that you’d like to explore?
I’d like to play every type of character, and want to experience everything.
And finally, plans for the year ahead?
Now I am currently working on a Japanese TV drama series, and 2 Japanese films after that.
Thank you Ryo.
Photography: Shin Hamada