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?Enacting my role was challenging?

The Last Samurai said every new project feels like the first.

india Updated: Mar 12, 2006 13:02 IST

Memoirs Of A Geisha, a film directed by Rob Marshall has an exotic appeal and is up for six Oscars. Here Ken Watanabe, who stars in the film talks about his experience during the making of the film and how he got along with the female cast. Excerpts from an interview:

What was the biggest challenge for you while working in the Memoirs Of A Geisha?

I’ve always done strong, aggressive roles. But in this film my character, the chairman, is totally different from that, he is generous, simple and smooth. He doesn’t show the passion inside him. It was difficult to enact this person because there were many questions like why did he stop loving? And that was challenging. The character of the chairman is vulnerable.

Do you feel that is oldfashioned?

I don’t think so. The geisha world is kind of like a frame and we wanted to make it a real, good love story. Did you audition just for the chairman’s role?

When I met Rob (Marshall) after the premiere of The Last Samurai, two years ago, he had offered me the chairman’s role only. You are a Japanese.

Did you follow any tradition before the shooting started?

Yes. In Japan before shooting, we usually pray that no accidents happen during the shooting. Usually we invite a monk, but we couldn’t invite one, this time.

So would you call it a Japanese movie?

It’s not a Japanese film, it’s a Rob Marshall film. And this movie has many touches — Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, English. However, the tone of the film is Japanese, though the music is very English. Rob took his time before the shoot began. He spend time on each character, so that we could get that perfect harmony. And finally we found a way, and a language of our own.

How was it working with the three Chinese actresses?

Sometimes I cooked for myself on weekends. And once I invited Michelle (Yeoh) and Gong Li, and treated them to Chinese food, which they quite enjoyed.

After The Last Samurai, did you feel any pressure of expectations.

No, because as an actor I focus on the character. But, yes, I got recognition in Hollywood, before that, no one knew me. And after The Last Samurai, I could take my pick of films. Now too, when I work on a new project, it feels like the first time.