Exclusive Interview: Director Kazuya Shiraishi and Actor Gou Ayano

By Jazmin Justo

“Twisted Justice” is the most recent film by Director Kazuya Shiraishi, well known for his psychological crime thriller, “The Devil’s Path“, about an undercover cop that spirals deep into society’s underworld. The film won several awards at film festivals and the 37th Japan Academy Prize. “Twisted Justice” is no exception. Based on the real life scandal “Inaba Case” in Japan, the film digs into the back story of the case, showing a tangled world of the police force and yakuza, which has been an ongoing debate in Japan society. “Twisted Justice” main protagonist, Moroboshi is played by Actor Gou Ayano, one of the youngest and most talented stars in Japan. Actor Gou Ayano has been featured in various live manga/novel adaptations in Japan such as popular manga “Rurouni Kenshin”, “Bunny Drop”, and “Lupin III”. He recently starred in the film “The Light Shines Only There” which premiered in Japan Cuts 2015. At the NYAFF 2016 Opening Night, Actor Gou Ayano was awarded the Screen International Rising Star Asia Award. AsianinNY was able to interview the director and actor on their filming experience and the creation of the film.

Q: What were the challenges of playing your character?

Actor Ayano: One of the challenges of playing the character Moroboshi was that I couldn’t really think about before or after a particular scene. I had to play it moment per moment to make sure that each moment is packed with passion.

Q: Do you plan to do more anti-hero roles?

Actor Ayano: Yes of course. I want to get even more evil. Sort of like Gary Oldman in “Leon The Professional” and of course, Heath Ledger and “The Joker”. (laughter)

Me: That’s tough isn’t.

Actor Ayano: Yes it’s tough. (chuckles)

Q: What were some of the most memorable and embarrassing acting moments?

Actor Ayano: One of my fondest memories is that I had so much fun on set that during one take, we had to stop rolling because the director’s laughter was so loud. (chuckles)

I think one of the most embarrassing moment, is you know, that scene with the bubbles with the actress, and she’s a very sexy actress and she was on top of me, so that was extremely embarrassing. (laughter)

Q: Which was your favorite scene to film?

Director Shiraishi: Towards the end, there’s a horrible investigation scene in the police depart, when the police says “Drugs or guns. Which do you prefer?” So that scene is the most memorable to me. (chuckles) Both of them are not good, right? (chuckles)

Q: What were the challenges in creating a crime film in contrast to your previous films?

Director Shiraishi: I think the biggest challenge was that I wasn’t simply out to make a simple crime film. I had to insert certain moments of youth and eventful drama into that crime scene. I think that making sure that it didn’t come off as a simple crime film was one of the challenges.

Q: What attracted you to this particular crime story?

Director Shiraishi: So I think the biggest reason, is that when I first encountered the newspaper article about this cop, he was only reported to be a very evil, debased cop in Japan. But as I read his autobiography, he was known simply as a bad cop became a very appealing human being.

Q: Did you read the book before acting the character?

Actor Ayano: I actually read it until after the premiere, to read the autobiography. The reason for that was I felt that we tend to focus on the screenplay or autobiography was up to the director and is not a decision for me to make. I’m actually reading the biography now that the film premiered, and I can tell you that the autobiography is much more scandalous.

Q: What did you learn from this film experience and do you plan to act in a similar film in the future?

Actor Ayano: Definitely would continue. So rather than perform the role, I want to live the role. I want to inhabit the role. So one of the things I learned is that when you have something you want to protect with all your life and your backed into a corner with very little choice, that’s when evil rises. But is that evil truly evil? This character in this film, he simply wanted to make Hokkaido prefecture police department better, that was his envision and goal. So, what constituents evil and justice is a very fine line.

Q: Was Actor Ayano the first choice for the main character role?

Director Shiraishi: So the actually the cop in real life is a very tough martial arts fighter. So when I met him, he was a complete athlete. He was big, a very muscular guy. So at the same time, I found him to be attractive, lots of sex appeal, so I looked for someone with the same sort of attractiveness and so I thought of Sir Ayano. So in that sense, yes he’s my first choice.

Q: Which character attracted you the most?

Director Shiraishi: Moroboshi is the centerpiece of the film, but it’s also very much a ensemble piece so in that sense, I think each character is appealing and I’m attracted to each of them but there’s also Moroboshi and his partner, Taro. Taro is a character who is almost like a little brother to him and I was also very intrigued by him as well.

Q: What do you want the audience to remember about your film?

Director Shiraishi: I would love the audience to take away that even though he was very much a bad cop, he was also pure, genuine, and he was serious about his work so I think you can say he was a very good cop. And the resolve was also very quite tragic but I think it’s good to live with heat and passion, so I would love them to witness that sort of life.

Q: Do you plan to make more films like this in the future?

Director Shiraishi: Yes of course, I will like to continue. I’m actually I do consider working on films based on real actual accounts but at the same time, I will love to challenge myself with different genres but I think I ultimately go back to this genre.

Q: What continues to inspire your film making career?

Director Shiraishi: So I think I’m very much inspired by way of society and human civilization and I make it a point to take on a different perspective of society, a different point of view. Compared to other people, I try to take on a unique perspective on society so that I can discover the humanity and the sadness of the human being.

Q: In retrospect, which genre do you like to act in the most?

Actor Ayano: So for me, it’s difficult to choose a role that I don’t want to play. I really need to continue challenging myself. I plan to keep on going as far as I can and to continue raising the bar, and raising the purity of my work cause as an actor I always need to be chosen, I’m very much aware of that. And of course coming here to New York City, has also become a seed for what I would do next and I will take that with me to Japan, and I will love to come back to New York again.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring actors?

Actor Ayano: I recommend you to not chose a career as an actor. It’s a very difficult life. It’s very much a gamble. (chuckles) I’m joking. (chuckles) I think the most important thing is that in working with various people, in order for you to earn the trust of the people you have to trust others as well. So it’s very much – communication is very important so you have to treat what you are doing as a gift towards your audience, director and your crew and so on.

Q: So I heard you have a new monster movie that is out.

Director Shiraishi: No. Actually there’s another director with the same last name. (laughter). He’s a friend.

Me: Oh because I was going to ask, why you like monster movies so much.

Director Shiraishi: (laughter) Yes, I will love to try to make a monster movie.

Actor Ayano: And I can be the monster! (laughter)

Me: Thank you very much everyone!

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