Rila Fukushima and Tao Okamoto have a couple things in common. Both are very successful models. And both made their future film debut this past year opposite Hugh Jackman in the highly popular film, “The Wolverine.”
As the film makes its debut this week on DVD and Blu-ray, they both spoke with me about their new success, not being intimidated and what a nice person that guy Logan really is.
Mike Smith: You both are very successful fashion models. Before the opportunity to appear in “The Wolverine” came along had either of you aspired to being an actress?
Rila Fukushima: To be honest I never wanted to become an actress but when I was approached I decided to do it because I was going to be Hugh Jackman’s love interest! (laughs).
Tao Okamoto: I’ve always had an interest in getting into acting but I’d never done any feature films. Doing “The Wolverine” was a magical experience.
MS: Were there any nerves, considering the popularity of the “Wolverine” films, on making this film your debut project?
TO: “The Wolverine” is all about fear (laughs) I was very lucky to get the role.
RF: Luckily I didn’t have a lot of time to realize it was a big deal. The audition process took about four months and before I knew it we were shooting. I’m glad I didn’t have the time to realize it was such a big movie. When I finally saw the finished film it hit me that this was a pretty big deal. (laughs).
MS: Being new to the business was Hugh Jackman supportive of you on set?
RF: Absolutely. I think he still remembers his first experiences on a big movie so he could understand how hard it was. He also taught me the “language”…I had no idea what “on camera” was or what “off camera” was. He was very, very supportive.
TO: Everyone was very supportive. From James Mangold, our director, to Hugh. They both gave me a lot of information about my character. And Hugh is so funny! He’s a superstar but he’s also a really, really nice person. He would be on the set when he was supposed to be sleeping. He would film eleven hours a day and spend three hours before he was supposed to shoot working out. He would spend time with his family and take care of his children. I think he really only slept three hours a day! (laughs) But then again, he’s Wolverine…he doesn’t have to sleep.
MS: You both have some pretty intense action scenes in the film. Did either of you have any prior martial arts experience or training?
TO: A little bit. For the movie I took about three weeks of training in sword fighting. I love to exercise and had been taking taekwondo for about two years before I was cast.
RF: We trained for about a month before we started shooting. I learned Karate, how to throw a knife and self defense.
MS: What do you have coming up?
RF: I’m working on a new project but I can’t tell you until its finished (laughs).
TO: I’m shooting a drama for Japanese television right now and hopefully I can return to an American film in the near future.