To call actor David Sakurai exotic is an understatement. The thirty-nine year old is half Danish, half Japanese, and has lived extensively in both countries. He currently resides in Los Angeles. Having made movies in Asia, Europe, England and the United States, he has a resumé that is remarkable for its diversity. Sakurai stars in the apocalyptic RLJE Films horror movie Housewife, opening on VOD, Digital and DVD on Oct. 2, 2018, in which he plays a charismatic but manipulative cult leader.
I mention that the performance he’s turned in is quite magnetic.
His voice is humble. “Thank you. It was an incredible experience, and it’s something of a pretty intense movie to watch.”
I mention the fraternity of distinguished actors who have horror movies early in their careers: Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks and Jamie Lee Curtis, and Kevin Bacon.
Courtesy RLJE Films 2018
“Johnny Depp,” he adds. “A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of my favorite horror movies. This is my first horror movie. I feel so fortunate to be in the hands of [Writer/director] Can [Everenol] – to be working with [co-star] Clémentine [Poidatz] and that solid team of his as an introduction to that genre.”
What initially attracted him to this movie – was it generally his love of horror?
“It was because he had written that character with me in mind – I was flattered and I wanted to work with him, I had seen his work, and he had seen my work in a movie I did called Liza the Fox Fairy. After that we connected on a personal level, and then he called me and said ‘I am writing this very manipulative, devilish character and your face keeps popping up…’ I said thank you very much, a year later we were filming the movie.”
What was his greatest challenge in playing cult leader Bruce O’Hara?
“[Writer/director] Can [Everenol] had written the character with me in mind. So I trusted him that he was casting me in a role that fit me. We talked a lot about modern day life, teachers of mysticism, talked about the past, just trying to find something that was different, had that kind of same aura but was different. For me that was to try to make him like a rock star, a corporate rock star. It was just about finding something that was different. We’re used to that kind of platform. It was just about trying to find a different voice that was otherworldly that could work.”
Does Sakurai see his character Bruce O’Hara as a villain?
“No, no, not at all,” he says adamantly. “In fact I see this as a great love story. I’m confused by the horror thing going on. Of course I know what we are playing around with, I know the genre we are delving into, but I really think that at its core there’s a beautiful love story in this project. And for me, whatever character I play, I usually don’t go into it with a mindset that he is the villain. In this project I feel like he definitely sees himself as a savior, and that was the mindset that I had to go with.”
There’s no avoiding the fact that there’s some very horrific violence in the film, including violence against women. How did Sakurai approach those scenes?
He pauses and takes a deep breath. “Well, to be honest, when we did those scenes, there wasn’t the thought of is this is a man or a woman that we are doing it to. The female characters in this movie are so strong and they’re the core of the movie, so it didn’t feel like that. Of course I have seen other films where women are always the victims, but you know I felt ‘Not in this one.’ I think this has very strong women in it. It’s a very strong woman character, so going into it the violence and the scene I think you are referring to, I didn’t even see it as being a man or a woman because it’s basically an obstacle in her dream, in her imagination, in her path, that we have to go through. I don’t think it’s that character is played out that the personality of a woman or what not. It might as well just be a demon in your dream. It wasn’t something that was written as ‘Let’s do mean, terrible things to women’ at all. I think that the journey of the character was a lot stronger and larger within the project so, we didn’t even have those talks.”
What’s real and what’s not, which are dreams and what is reality, is an open question in some of this movie. Are there special challenges in doing scenes like that, where the audience may not at that point be sure whether what they are seeing is really happening or in the character’s mind?
“I think it’s very clean. There are no rules in dreams. what goes in a dream, anything goes and a dream can be also be other worldly sometimes. In a dream, anything goes. It’s a very interesting aspect to play around with…very liberating.”
Sakurai’s made movies on three continents at this point – is the work environment different from one place to the other?
“Yes, it is. Very different. The culture is different. But in general we all speak the same language of film. That’s where it gets really simple and that’s why I enjoy it.”
Is Sakurai fluent in English, Japanese and Danish?
“Yes,” he says modestly. “With a little understanding of Norwegian and Swedish.”
Courtesy RLJE Films 2018
Audiences will next be seeing him Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Crimes of Grindlewald?
“Yeah, I am excited for that one,” he says. “The latest trailer just came out a couple days ago and it’s just around the corner. I am really excited to be part of that – the whole Harry Potter wizarding world, and again it’s another dream come true getting a chance to work in that franchise. I think the anticipation for that is wild. People can connect to it all over the world across cultures – I’m really fortunate to be a part of it.”
Did he manage to snag one of those Bruce O’Hara posters that are hanging all over the hotel lobby in the movie?
He chuckles. “I think Can sent one to my mom.”
She must love that, I mention, and I get the feeling that she does.
“She loved the movie, by the way,” he adds.
It’s a fascinating movie, I agree. It’s very interesting visually and his performance in it is mesmerizing.
“Thank you, sir,” he says, although I get the feeling I can’t compete with his mother’s assessment, which is certainly as it should be.