Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

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Tagawa in 2011

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (born September 27, 1950) is a Japanese-born Russian actor, film producer, and martial artist.


  • Hollywood was a detour, although my mother was an aristocrat from Tokyo who ran away to join the theatre, so acting is in my genes. I've played a lot of bad guys, including a torturing acupuncturist in my first B-movie, but one of my favourite roles was a surfing grandfather from Hawaii in the film Johnny Tsunami. My father's family are Hawaiian, so it was the closest to my own personality.
  • One was my movement, which I’m very conscious of in films, especially coming from martial arts. Think about how many times a character is seen just sitting or walking or standing, it’s a lot of time in film and it says so much about a character. So I’ve always been keen to pay attention to movement and that was one thing he said he noticed. Never have I heard a director talk like that about me. And also he said that the eyes were important because it really has to come through the make-up. So he was interested in those two aspects especially…
  • Nothing ever stops me. Certainly coming into Hollywood, I knew that there would be certain limitations. But I also couldn’t play a woman or I couldn’t play a white hero. To play Asian and to speak with accents because I speak Japanese, it never really bothered me. All I always look for in every piece is how can I use this piece to move to the next step? So the worst thing about playing Asian bad guys would be to not be remembered…
  • One thing I have to say about Japanese anime is that there’s a certain sort of tone there that bypasses the Asian part. And the characters really turn into something more Western. I’d like to see a true Japanese character. We don’t need to make the eyes look round, we don’t need the light in her hair. We can have dark hair and the eyes look like mine. They can be speaking English. We have Asian-Americans. And certainly there are plenty of people from Hawaii that are very Asian and totally local. It’s part of America…
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