Akie Kotabe will returning to the big screen later this year as he teams up with Salma Hayek and director Joe Lynch in Everly.
Everly is one of three films we will be seeing him star in in 2014, and we caught up with him to chat about what he has in the pipeline.
- We are going to be seeing you back on the big screen later this year with Everly, so can you tell me a little bit about the film?
Everly is a film that is directed by Joe Lynch - who is known for making Wrong Turn 2 and Knights of Badassdom with Peter Dinklage. It is an action/thriller, and one of the unique points of this film is that it is set in one apartment.
It is set in the apartment of the title character Everly, and she is trying to escape the clutches of her captor: which is her mobster boyfriend. It is Joe Lynch’s Die Hard I suppose (laughs).
- The script for Everly has been penned by Yale Hannon, so what was it about the script and your character of Dead Man that initially drew you to the project?
My agent told me about it, and then I went to audition and was then offered the role. In the script, everyone has such vague names such as Dead Man, Sadist, Masochist, and I really liked that.
It is kind of a throwback to a film that Johnny Depp called Dead Man, the idea of being a man who slowly dies throughout the film, and yet carries what would be Salma’s inner thoughts is a fun character to play: I have never actually died on scene. It is quite funny to know that I am going to die, and to get to do it slowly and in stages.
It is the idea of being in an apartment - I was part of the Yakuza mob team, and initially Everly and I are at odds. However, over the course of the film, we find that we have quite a lot in common and I help as much as I can throughout my journey.
- As you say you shot the film predominately in an apartment - which is quite a restrictive and claustrophobic space - so how did you find that experience?
It was quite interesting. When you are shooting, you normally have coverage and you are able to move the camera outside, it was fun to see how Joe was going thinking of how to cover certain shots.
I don’t want to give too much away, but the movie can leave but the camera doesn’t leave the apartment. It was quite interesting to see how all that got constructed together. My character cannot leave the apartment, so I suppose you could say that it was claustrophobic. However, it was a very spacious apartment (laughs).
- You have mentioned Joe Lynch a couple of times and he is back in the director's chair. How did you find working with him? And what kind of director is he?
I love Joe. Joe is amazing. Ever since working with him I have kept in touch: he has a great pod cast that he does called The Movie Crypt, and every week they bring people from the industry and talk about films in general.
He was a great director because he was willing to let the script change to make it better, and he really wanted us to feel comfortable as we went through it and find the truth in it. I guess he is an actor’s director and is a total fan of film: which is really great.
- Joe Lynch is an actor as well as a director, so I was wondering how you felt that helped him as a filmmaker?
In some of the television that I have worked in many of the directors have been more like a sheepherder who keeps everything go on time.
As a director who is an actor, I guess it is nice to have him be just as concerned with getting a good performance from a take, instead of just focusing on the composition of the shot, getting the shots, and moving on.
He really wanted to make sure that we were cool with what we had got before we moved on: it was really nice to be able to work that way.
- Salma Hayek takes on the lead role in the new film, so how did you find working alongside her?
She was great; I was really looking forward to working with Salma. I got to meet her daughter Valentina and her husband. She really was interested in finding fresh moments and getting those captured on film: I found it really fun to work with someone who may do something just on the day and as the shoot was happening.
I found that it was fun to play in that direction. We had some rehearsals scheduled before we would shoot in the morning, and we really tried to get through the script and make sure that everything was truthful. I found that nice, and she was just fun to be around.
- So where there any moments of improvisation during the shoot?
I would call it more calculated improvisation. Before the crew would come in, we would have this rehearsal time, where we walk through the script, talk, and see what we could do.
I wouldn’t say we went off the cuff improvising, but there was time to explore in the morning: that really was where we would lock down what we would do and then we would shoot for the day.
- You have also completed work on other film projects such as All That Remains & The November Man, so can you tell me a bit about those films?
All That Remains is a great film being done… I actually worked on that last year. It was a cool story about Dr Takashi Nagai, who is a Christian convert and a survivor of the Nagasaki bombings in World War II.
It was interesting working with director Dominic and Ian Higgins, as they were working up in Birmingham and shot the whole thing on green screen. That was quite an interesting concept and an interesting film to be part of. It is nice that it is a true story and it has elements to do with human survival within devastation.
I take on the role of Myers in November Man - which is a Roger Donaldson directed movie. It is coming to cinemas in the U.S. through Relativity Media on august 27th, I believe. It was a blast to work with Pierce Brosnan: I didn’t actually get to work with Pierce directly.
It’s funny, Roger Donaldson directed a film called No Way Out back in the eighties and, as a kid, I remember being scared to death of this final scene of that film, which featured Will Patton. I came into the film, did a fitting, then was invited to a BBQ where I met Pierce and the rest of the cast, which also included Will Patton (laughs).
I had to go from being terrified by him in that movie to working with him: he was the U.S. government head in charge in the film. It was a surreal and fun moment for me, to go from what I saw as a kid to going ’I am working with him’.
- Throughout your career, we have seen you move between TV & film projects, so how do you find moving between the two mediums?
I think I like both. TV is nice because shows have style to them, so it is nice when you are offered a role in Mad Men to fit into the style of those shows. If you are in Doctor Who, Emmerdale of Holby City, there is a certain style, and it is great to make your choices and turn up on set. There is not as much time to be directed on a television show or series.
I worked on The Assets with Jodie Whitaker and Paul Rhys this last year, and that was cool because it was a new series and so there was no style associated with it: they were very much creating the style. It was interesting because there was quite an intensive rehearsal process ahead of that.
Television is fun for fitting the style, while films are fun because they have their style before they start shooing; they bring the actors in and morph into what it becomes from there: that is what is cool about film.
- You will take on the role of Max in Making Sparks in a new series, so what can we expect from that?
I believe it is supposed to come out from the App Store and Google Play. That is a fun web thing. It was fun working with Merveille Lukeba from Skins.
That was just a fun, stylised sci-fi horror series - I am not quite sure what to call it. There was quite a bit of fighting involved, so it was great to get to play around with the stunt guys, do some fights, and shoot a little web series.
- While you are enjoying the TV work, you do seem to be focusing slightly more on film, so how much is the big screen where you want to stay now?
I think I would love to stay on the big screen. The two things that I am looking forward to, is one day being a regular on a TV series. On film you usually fly to a location and shoot for however long it is, you become a quick family, but then it is over and everyone spreads apart.
I think the nice thing in television when you star in a series that goes on for a while - I am yet to experience this - you start to really develop a family. I believe I do like the film world as well, because if there is someone you don’t particularly like working with, it is not going to last for the rest of your life (laughs). I have not had too many problems with that myself
- Finally, what's next for you going through the second half of this year?
I got back from Los Angeles in April, and I got a little inundated with theatre projects. Right now, I am in two shows that are working. One starts up on 3rd June at Theatre 503, called Obama America: I am in one of the short plays called Water Under The Board.
I am finishing a Disney XD Cartoon, which is coming out mid June in the U.S. on the Disney XD Channel. The series is called Boyster and I play the title character. Once those are wrapped, I will be looking and finding what else I want to work on.
Keep up to date will all the news on Akie Kotabe on his Twitter page - https://twitter.com/akiekotabe