Aug 15, 2007

Memoirs of a Geisha: An Exciting Background Experience

Do you have a list of famous people that you would like to meet one day in your life? They could be actors, musicians, and artists.
It doesn't have to be any time soon, but one day, before you leave this world.

I do.

I don't know if it is called "fan" which I never thought about being one for anybody.
I just simply respect the person as a great human being with stunning talent and effort to achieve that.
I have been singing, dancing, acting, and modeling, so I just look at so called celebrities as "human being". I meet many celebrities because of my job, but the one thing I realized was, they are the same, just like us.

When I spiritually grabbed by the person, I strongly feel that, one day, I would like to meet the person. And somehow, I strongly and certainly believe that I will be blessed to meet the person.
It doesn't have to be anything special, but just to say "hi", and to tell them how much I was moved by their performance.

When I first saw Last Samurai, I was intensely and deeply moved by the movie, especially by Ken Watanabe's acting.
I can not even describe how much moved I was.
I am Japanese, but I really did not know about him before I moved to the U.S. in 1998. I was not really into watching movies or televisions back then. But I saw him as Katsumoto in Last Samurai, and instantly fell in love with his role and his wonderful job.
So I decided that I would love to see him in person one day.

There is another person I strongly wanted to see.
when I first saw the commercial of a Japanese shampoo called "Asience", I saw this beautiful Asian lady.
She was dancing on the stage wearing a vivid red dress.
She totally caught my eyes.
I just stopped everything I was doing and looked at her beautiful dance, beautiful aura, and beautiful appearance.
I was very proud of her as fellow Asian woman.

When I saw the commercial, I strongly felt that I will see her one day.
And later on, I found out the lady was, Zhang Ziyi.

The years go by, and I moved to Los Angeles.
A friend of mine introduced me to one casting agency.
I have done some modeling and promotional commercial as principal in my life before I moved to Los Angeles, but interestingly, my very first "background work" was, Memoirs of a Geisha.

It was October 2004 when I was booked for this job, however, I did not even think about who the principals were.
I just went to Hungtington library at my call time where they shot the aristocrat party by the beautiful Cherry blossom.
Do you remember the scene that Sayuri and a chairman walk in the park by cherry blossoms, and Danna(Cary Tagawa) calls Sayuri because he wanted to show her a Kimono?
As I was walking by the cherry blossom tree, I felt so peaceful and beautiful. And I realized...The tree was artificial.
The art department did a wonderful job creating the artificial cherry blossom tree because I almost believed that was real though I am Japanese and very familiar with them.

Suddenly, assistant director came to me and placed me behind the principal actors.
They were, Ken Watabane and Zhang Ziyi.

What I was hoping, to meet them one day in person happened this fast.
I could not believe it, but I was really blessed.
When we believe something very strongly, that happens.

When I work on set, I never talk to principal actors because I respect what they do, unless they talk to me.
So even I was right behind them I did not even look at them or said anything. That is the way how we do as actors, to get the jobs done.

We were resetting on certain scene many times, then I found this hair accessory on the ground that many of us were wearing.
Somebody dropped it.
So I spoke out to the crowd to ask who dropped the hair accessory.
As I was walking with the hair accessory in my hand, this gentleman who is one of a background player moved away from my sight, and the person behind him looked at me and smiled....

He smiled.

My eyes are bad, so I could not recognize him for a while, but he was,

Ken Watanabe....!

Oh my gosh, can you imagine that Katsumoto, that you strongly admire and wanted to meet, is looking at you and smiling?!

I felt so embarrassed....

I just passed by him and said "hello".
That's it. I didn't even want to say anything.

I didn't expect that he will be right by me and looking at me and smiling.
That happened all the sudden, so I totally didn't know what to do.

It was my first day of Memoirs of a Geisha.

After this day, I hoped to see him again so that I could say hi the right way. I really hoped. And I was lucky.
I happened to be booked again for this movie.

I will write about it next time with my photos from the movie.