Despite being an award-winning actor, Takeshi Kaneshiro (金城武) has consistently kept a low profile over the years. While Takeshi is highly guarded, he has a warm and gentle disposition on the other hand. The co-existence of two apparently opposing aspects of Takeshi’s personality only serves to make him an even more fascinating presence in the public mind. In an in-depth interview with GQ, Takeshi finally reveals a more personal side to him, and shares his views on aging as well reflections on his career.
On His Physical Appearance
Soon to turn 41 in October, Takeshi is finally aging. Takeshi felt relieved, as if he had been waiting forever for the day to arrive. “I am finally growing white hair! My manager asked me to dye it black, but I refused. There is a time for everything and since I am now in my forties, it is only right that I look the part too,” Takeshi said.
However when Takeshi had to wear a school uniform and act as a university student for his role in The Crossing II <太平轮(下)·彼岸>, he was worried about not looking the part. He said, “I was thinking to myself, ‘What shall I do? What if I don’t look convincing? I was so nervous…'”
Takeshi then revealed that he was never used to the praise he has received for his good looks. Debuting in the entertainment industry at 17, Takeshi has constantly been revered as one of the hottest male stars of his time. Until today, Takeshi has yet to figure how to receive such praise without feeling awkward. The best he can do is to say a short “thank you” in response to such admiration. He explained his mentality, saying, “After all, my looks are from my parents [and have nothing to do with me]…. I used to be quite disdainful of my looks when I was younger. But now, I have tried to understand….”
Takeshi added, “It is far more important to me to have the opportunity to work with a great production, especially at this age.”
On Interacting with the Audience
With his Japanese-Taiwanese ethnicity, Takeshi grew up having to grapple with the identity issues arising from a cross-cultural background. As a Taiwanese doctor drafted into the Japanese army, his character in The Crossing II faces similar types of issues.
Perhaps as a result of Takeshi’s low profile and a corresponding lack of detail surrounding his personality, audiences have a habit of characterizing him according to the personality of the latest character he portrays onscreen, whether it was the shy Ho-Jun in Tempting Heart <心動>, or the wily and charismatic Zhuge Liang in Red Cliff <赤壁>.
In response, Takeshi said that he had never thought about which character he resembles the most. He said, “All I care about when filming is how to best portray the character. When filming ends, it is then up to the audience to perceive and evaluate the character.” As for whether Takeshi would deliberately go online to read comments about his characters, Takeshi admitted, “Yes I would if I come across these comments, although I wouldn’t go out of the way to read them. When I see negative comments, I will just think to myself, ‘Oh okay, I guess everyone’s tastes are different.'”
Having dabbled in both music and acting throughout his career, Takeshi truly fell in love with being a film actor after starring in Wong Kar Wai‘s (王家衛) Chungking Express <重慶森林>. The talented director’s unique way of directing the film gave Takeshi a new perspective towards acting. He recalled, “We would get a blank piece of paper each day, not knowing the scenes we were going to film or what to expect generally. The camera-man we were working with was always half-drunk and no one seemed to know what they were doing. We would keep getting these blank slips of paper every day, and sometimes we would be told that the previous day’s work was not good and had to be redone. Nevertheless, we all had a lot of faith in [Wong Kar Wai], and that creative atmosphere was really energizing and fun.”
Takeshi added that he had always had quite an indifferent attitude towards acting, until he had that opportunity to work with Kar Wai. He enthused, “That was when I finally realized being in a film could be so fun, that a film could actually be shot in such an interesting manner.”
Director Peter Ho (陳可辛) once commented that Takeshi was the hardest actor to recruit for a film, as Takeshi would only agree to take on a role if he was convinced that the character was absolutely crucial to the film’s plot. Peter was referring to the martial arts film, Dragon <武俠>, in which Takeshi played detective Xu Baijiu. On the subject, Takeshi affirmed, “Yes, I kept asking him, ‘Why do you need to include my character? Wouldn’t the story be more complete without him?'” Takeshi eventually worked with Peter to modify the character such that he fit into the plot more logically. Takeshi was also the one who suggested making his character speak Sichuanese.
Takeshi revealed that on set, he was actually speaking mangled Sichuanese, “I had no idea how to speak the dialect, although I really liked the sound of the accent…. I was speaking utter gibberish on the set, and the person who had to eventually dub me had such a difficult time.”
On why Takeshi has rarely taken on another martial arts role since then, he said, “I just don’t think I look very professional while doing it. There is such a stark difference between those who have been trained in martial arts and those who are untrained. I love action films, but when I am asked to film a certain move, I look so clumsy and unconvincing. Does it matter to the audience? I don’t know. But I know that if I was a member of the audience, it would matter to me.”
Takeshi concluded that he is still unsure as to whether he could call himself a “true actor”. While he loved acting, he was acutely aware that acting is also his source of income. He laughed and said, “I don’t even know if acting is what I am best at.” But Takeshi is certain that he will not consider other occupations.
Source: China Yes
This article is written by Jingles for JayneStars.com.