New York Asian 2016 Interview: Ayano Go on Acting, Awards and Otaku

Featured Contributor; New York City, New York (@TheDivaReview)
New York Asian 2016 Interview: Ayano Go on Acting, Awards and Otaku

After making his bones on the acting scene for a dozen years, appearing in films by esteemed directors like Sabu, Takashi Miike and Sion Sono, Ayano Go has finally had a breakthrough. His dramatic range and innate ability to transform himself into any number of roles finally brought accolades over the past three years, with several “newcomer” honours and this year’s Rising Star award from the New York Asian Film Festival.

Ayano spoke with me about his latest films, Twisted Justice and A Bride for Rip Van Winkle, working with Japan’s legendary directors, and being a self-confessed otaku.

The Lady Miz Diva:  How do you feel about receiving the Star Asia Rising Star award?

Ayano Go:  In receiving this award I don’t consider it my personal award, but an award for Twisted Justice. I’m so happy about that.

LMD:  We are not given a lot of information as to why your character, Moroboshi, falls into crime as easily as he does. We don’t have a lot of his back story other than he was a judo champion. Did you create a back story for him that enabled you to understand his motivations?

AG:  I think injustice exists in every organisation in life. For this particular character, Moroboshi, his ambition is to fight injustice and eliminate evil as it appears in the film. So, he’s not aware that he is doing something bad. He doesn’t have recognition of that. All he wants to do is make Hokkaido a safe place and the Hokkaido Police Department a better place. That is his passion.

LMD:  So you see what he does as redeeming. As an actor, do you have to find something redeemable or identifiable in the characters you play?

AG:  What struck me about his character was his purity. Of course, he does plenty of bad things, but he also has an ability to love people and especially his friends, who he treats like his brothers. Also, I was very much struck by his humanity; the way he draws people in. There’s love there and I very much sympathise with that.

But at the same time, I am very much against using stimulants and drugs and I think that in this film, once Moroboshi starts using drugs, it takes a turn for the worse. That’s the point where this film really shifts and he very much degrades himself, but at the same time it really breaks your heart, that transition.

LMD:  The other film that you are here to present is A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE. Amuro, the character you play is very mysterious. You don’t know what he’s thinking or his motivations. Can you tell us about the difference for you creating a very subtle and layered performance as in A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE, as opposed to the more flamboyant performance as in TWISTED JUSTICE?

AG:  I don’t actually treat any of my roles as roles, rather, they exist for me as real people within myself. So, it’s not so much that I perform the role; I live it.  I exist as that person. And both films were equally difficult; they were not easy at all, but I think for Moroboshi, this outlandish figure, it was easier to turn on and off.

LMD:  Perfect segue. In your history of films you’ve played some very dark and intense characters; and you’ve just said that you live in these characters. How do you turn them off? Do you live as the character for the duration of the shoot? How do you let that go?

AG:  It used to be that I stayed in the role the entire time, for the entire duration of the film. But I realised that what I was doing by staying in character all the time is I was approaching the role as if I was only doing it all by myself, all alone, but what I can bring to the character by myself is very much limited.  

Now I really consider that film is very much a work that is created by many different people, whether it be lighting, or recording, or art department. All those people create one coherent art, so I’m very much aware of that. So now, once it starts until the director says cut, I stay in character, but after that, I return to Ayano Go. So Ayano Go stays in the background while Moroboshi is the star, that’s how I consider it.

LMD:  Please talk about working with director Shiraishi Kazuya on TWISTED JUSTICE?

AG:  I’ve never met a director with so much wonderful artistic sense. He’s such an attractive person, a wonderful human being, first and foremost. Of course, we came to New York with Twisted Justice this time, but he’s the kind of director that makes me want to chase after the next project with him, and I know our next project will be the masterpiece. He gives me that fire, and he’s a wonderful person, as well.

LMD:  You have worked with Japan’s most prominent and respected directors, including Sabu, Miike, and Sono. Please tell us what in your view it is about those directors that makes them so successful?

AG:  I think I’m attracted to them first as human beings, before they are directors. It’s who they are and their humanity that I fully respect. It’s really the life that they’ve been living. The directors that you mentioned are all very down to earth and I love the way they select and choose and make decisions on set, and they have a real wonderful sense with their ideas. It has to be a director that I would like to dedicate all of my body and soul to, so I’m attracted to their humanity first.

LMD:  Has working with such outstanding directors inspired you to want to direct?

AG:  I get that question a lot. As an actor, there’s so much I haven’t done yet, and I am the sort of person that would like to die on set. So, I am not satisfied and there’s so much for me to do as an actor, so I don’t really think about directing.

But if I were to, what would you want me to direct?

LMD:  Something insane.

AG: {Laughs.}

LMD:  Maybe something like Shinjuku Swan?

AG: {Laughs.} For both of us {Motioning to director Shiraishi}, our ambition is to be like Sono Sion.

LMD:  You’ve done a lot of films that were originally manga or anime; NANA, GANTZ, RUROUNI, GATCHAMAN, LUPIN THE III and SHINJUKU SWAN, amongst others. What attracts you to these adaptations and are you a fan of manga and anime?

AG:  Yes, I am an otaku, as well! {Laughs.}

I think the great thing about manga is that it is very much removed from what happens in reality.  The unexpected happens, really; very much the Seven Wonders of the World. The things that you encounter in manga are quite unrealistic, but because I have to depict that unreality with my heart and body, it allows me to explore new potentials, and that sort of confronting with the unrealistic wonders of manga really raises my own potential as an actor, so, I very much love that.

But at the same time, when adapting these Japanese manga, the concern becomes very much about box office and commercialism and proceeds, right?  So in that sense, I think as Japanese people, we really need to be more concerned about the quality of the adaptation and really respect the fans and the original author.

This interview is cross-posted on my own site, The Diva Review. Please enjoy additional content, including exclusive photos there.

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A Bride for Rip van WinkleAyano GoJapanese CinemaNYAFF 2016Twisted Justice

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