How to Get Cast as an English Speaking Actor in Japan

Recorded 29th November 2020

Whether you are already an actor in Japan, or you are considering taking a step to become one, this online class aims to de-mystify the casting process through a discussion and Q&A session with casting directors, producers and actors active in the Japanese industry, and who specialise in the casting of English-speaking talent for both domestic and foreign productions shooting in Japan.

Who Should Watch?

  • English speaking foreign actors in Japan
  • English speaking Japanese actors in Japan
  • English speaking actors outside of Japan thinking of working in Japan.

(The discussion was conducted in English!)

Contents of the Class

00:00 – 01:25 Interview: Ko Iwagami (KAIJU Inc), Rikiya Takano (KAIJU Inc)

Topics include:

  • Getting an agent
  • Self-taping
  • Work available to foreign actors in Japan
  • The casting process

01:25 – 02:54 Interview: Actor Yuki Matsuzaki (Letters from Iwo Jima, Pirates of the Caribbean etc)
Topics include:

  • Becoming an actor
  • Japan and Hollywood – the difference for actors
  • Audition performance

About the Guests

Rory O’Donnell (Moderator)

Rory O'Donnell

Rory O’Donnell worked in the UK entertainment industry for 25 years, initially as an actor, then a casting director, before spending ten years as course director for Raindance London, the UK’s top provider of short training courses for filmmakers. He is an award-winning filmmaker, with short films he has directed screening in festivals in Europe and North America. His students have included everyone from film professionals looking to broaden their skillsets to inexperienced novices with a passing interest in the subject. Building on this experience, he has developed classes accommodating to all backgrounds and abilities.

Ko Iwagami

Ko Iwagami

KAIJU Inc. Casting Director, casting credits incld. Tokyo Vice (HBO MAX), Naked Director 2 (NETFLIX), Ju-on: Origins (NETFLIX), The Outsider (NETFLIX)
READ: How Kaiju Inc’s Ko Iwagami is fighting back against Hollywood whitewashing

Born 1985 in Tokyo, Japan. In his youth, Ko watched the Indiana Jones series and was inspired to pursue a career in films. After finishing junior high in Japan, he moved alone to the United States in a study abroad program, and during his time at university at Santa Fe, New Mexico, he began interning on film productions. In 2009, he fully entered the film industry, working in production on the film Due Date, starring Robert Downey Jr. He followed this with his involvements on many major Hollywood blockbusters such as, Breaking Bad, Avengers, The Last Stand and The Wolverine. Since then, he has been working in Japan, focusing his attention on international productions of films, commercials and music videos. Ko is now an independent casting director, and owner of Kaiju Inc. His mission is to bring amazing Japanese talents to the international stage.

Rikiya Takano

Rikiya TakanoKAIJU Inc. Casting Associate, Producer, casting credits incld. Tokyo Vice (HBO MAX), Naked Director 2 (NETFLIX), Ju-on: Origins (NETFLIX)

Born and raised under Mt. Fuji, Rikiya grew up surrounded by nature in Japan. When he was in junior high he was inspired by two Japanese actors, Nishida Toshiyuki and Ken Watanabe. He soon started following his dream to work in Hollywood as a filmmaker. After graduating in Tokyo, he attended California State University, Northridge to pursue a major in Film Production. Rikiya worked on various short films as a Producer and Art Director while attending CSU. The short film, Amal that he worked as an art director was selected for one of the best senior thesis films in the year and screened at Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Since 2018 he has been working with the production company tenFrames as a Producer’s Assistant. In addition to his work behind the camera, he has acted in various projects including the independent feature films, Netflix Original Series, and also he has been working at a casting company KAIJU INC in Tokyo and worked for International/Japanese MV, Commercial, TV shows and films as a casting associate. He is a diligent and creative filmmaker from Japan who has been challenging himself in Hollywood to make his dream come true.

Yuki Matsuzaki

Yuki MatsuzakiActor, Voice-Actor, Dialect Coach(English/Japanese), Cultural Consultant, Translator, credits incld. The Last Samurai (Warnor Bros), Letters from Iwo Jima (Warner Bros), The Pink Panther 2 (Columbia Pics), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Disney), The Man in the High Castle (AMAZON PRIME)

Born in Miyazaki, Japan. Matsuzaki began acting at the age of 7 in local theaters in Miyazaki. Upon graduating high school, he moved to New York City to become an accomplished actor with the versatility to perform in both English and Japanese. Upon his arrival, all his money was stolen and he became homeless. In order to survive, he started performing on the streets of Times Square. After being cast in a B-action film, he moved to Hollywood and appeared in over 40 films and TV series including The Last Samurai, Letters from Iwo Jima, Heroes, The Pink Panther 2, and Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides. He had overcome English by memorizing an entire dictionary, and started to work as a voice-actor and such cartoons as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and We Bare Bears. Since 2015, he started to assist other actors on their English performances, and worked as an on-set dialogue coach on numerous projects including Pacific Rim: Uprising.

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