Andrew Koji was an absolute pleasure to interview. We talked about Asian representation, stunt work, comparisons to Ah Sahm from Warrior and Lee Byung-Hun’s Storm Shadow, and the themes of family, brotherhood, and darkness within the movie Snake Eyes. Be sure to watch the last bonus clip to catch a bit of Andrew Koko’s funny side as well. If it’s not yet obvious, go watch Snake Eyes this Friday!
NEIL BUI (NB): Is Snake Eyes a pivotal movie to change Asian representation for the better?
ANDREW KOJI (AK): I think it’s part of that move. I don’t think one film can do it, or maybe it can. Who knows? I can speak for Tommy/Storm Shadow and what I was trying to do with [the role] and what Robert [the director] allowed me to do. I wanted personally that younger kids to be able to see, someone like Tommy/Storm Shadow as a character and performance like that and feel like there’s space for them, room for them, that they can play in these big films and add nuance and layers. That’s what I can speak for in terms of Tommy. And in the other stuff, I think that it’s a gradual shift and I hope that this is one that will help be a good influence for the younger generations coming up.
NB: How has the stuntwork on Snake Eyes differed from other sets?
AK: It was different but movement and fighting are all in the same realm. There’s maybe more of that or Japanese style or Korean style, Thai, Indonesian. This is very much taking influence from the samurai cinema has a huge passion for. You’ll see the style once you see the film. It’s slightly more heightened I’d say, than something like Warrior, which I’d say is a more violent show.
NB: Any similarities that stood out to you between your characters Storm Shadow and Ah Sahm?
AK: I wanted it to be different, Tommy and Ah Sahm. There’s a hint of Ah Sahm just for my Warrior fans out there, in the beginning at the fish packing plant. Tommy is putting on this persona and he’s still got the beard. So there was more of that there, but what I wanted to do more so than anything was to change it up and channel more Joe Taslim energy for Tommy. Just this kind of stillness, doesn’t quite look at you as he’s fighting. There’s some similarities but definitely more differences and evolution.
NB: How does your portrayal of Storm Shadow differ from Lee Byung-Hun’s past performance?
AK: Because this is a reboot, we’re trying to reinvent the whole thing. I didn’t look at [the past films or performances] for this film. Otherwise, it would bleed into it and I’d be trying to emulate and mimic something rather than having it come from me. It was just a completely different take. I can’t say better, because I think he’s a fantastic actor, but I tried my best, mate.
NB: Where does that place of darkness in Storm Shadow’s character come from in your perspective?
AK: It’s the fact that he sacrificed his whole life. He didn’t live a normal life. He trained and served the clan from a young age. And I think when you sacrifice, you put your whole life into that, you don’t live a normal life, and then a certain sense of entitlement comes in because he sacrificed his life. And when things don’t go your way, that’s when he kind of throws his toys out the pram. And he has a vision for the future and the clan. And it’s proably a mix of those things. We’ll probably find out in the second installment.
NB: At the heart of this story is brotherhood and family, do you have a personal inspiration for those themes?
AK: I don’t have any siblings but I have brothers in my life. Brothers from another mother kind of thing. I think Tommy is someone who is really searching for that, that’s why my interpratetion takes Snake Eyes in. He’s been searching for a brother, someone he can trust, someone who is a bit of an outsider who thinks outside the box. I think we’re all searching for family at the end of the day. Hopefully it’s relatable.
NB: With your past experiences as a stunt double, would you say playing a main role now is harder or easier?
AK: It’s different. Acting isn’t something I would say is easier or harder but I think if you do work as an actor you should be up and sacrificing sleep. Those kinds of problems are different becuse stuntguys work so hard and some of my brothers are stunt people and they don’t get the credit they deserve really. Stunts are more physically demanding, and acting should be mentally and emotionally draining if you really apply yourself and obviously in this case physical too. I wouldn’t say harder, just different. If you’re trying to do something special and up your game, then I think anything from directing, producing, acting in this field that we’re in, it should always be a tough challenge I’d say.
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