Monday, December 1, 2014




From NY critics screening
























BREAKOUT STAR

Meet Miyavi, the Japanese Pop Star Who Steals Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken



The cast of Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken is filled with unfamiliar faces, from rising star Jack O’Connell in the lead role to Domhnall Gleeson, unrecognizable from his days as a Weasley brother in the Harry Potter films. But if you were a Japanese teenager, you’d instantly pick out one of those faces—the one belonging to Miyavi, the pop star turned actor, now poised to take over the world.

In the film he plays “The Bird,” a Japanese World War II prison guard who takes a special interest in torturing Louie Zamperini (O’Connell), an American Olympian and pilot who is taken prisoner after his plane crashes in the Pacific. As our own Mike Hogan, who caught the film at a screening in New York last night, puts it, “Good luck forgetting the vicious visage of Miyavi’s character, the malevolent, ruby-lipped Corporal Watanabe.” So how did a guy who didn’t speak English three years ago turn in this kind of performance, and why did Jolie give him the part to begin with?

• He’s been a solo pop star in Japan for more than a decade. In 2002 he adopted the stage name Miyavi (given name: Takamasa Ishihara) and released his debut album.
He’s starred in a movie before. In 2004 Miyavi played himself in Oresama, in which he travels back in time 20 years, joins a band, and eventually befriends his younger self.
• At the height of his fame, he took off for America. In 2006, Miyavi moved to California to learn English, and spent time busking on Venice Beach. It may be where he learned how to play a character who isn’t an international superstar: “I can understand the value of everyday life thanks to that experience,” he said in a later interview.
• He’s the president of his own record company, J-Glam Inc. So, you know, if this whole superstar-turned-actor thing doesn’t work out, he has a fallback plan.
• He had to be persuaded to take the Unbroken role. When his casting was announced last October, Miyavi said in a statement, “As a musician, I questioned whether I should take a break from my craft to pursue this role. After meeting Angie, it became clear to me that an underlying theme to this story is forgiveness. This resonated with me because that is exactly what I want express through my music.”
• He calls Angelina Jolie “Angie.” (See above—and below.)
• Actually, even his fans might not recognize him in this. Stripped of the lip ring, tattoos, and wild clothes he normally sports onstage, Miyavi is virtually unrecogizable as the stern, uniformed guard, prone to beating Zamperini with a stick and doling out increasingly unimaginable punishment.
• He didn’t leave music behind on the set entirely, though. According to Entertainment Weekly, he and co-stars Garrett Hedlun and Jack O’Connell formed an impromptu band, and one night performed the Rolling Stones’s “Angie”—dedicated, naturally, to their director.
The Oscar buzz has already begun. Yes, it might be a long shot, but at least the Huffington Post thinks there’s room for Miyavi in the best-supporting-actor category. What’s better: performing in front of screaming fans, or hearing your name read out in the Kodak theater? Miyavi might become one of few people on Earth able to answer that question.






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