Haruka Abe

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HarukaAbe03Haruka Abe is a London based Anglo-Jpanese actress. Haruka was born in Tokyo and spent her youth split between New York, London and Tokyo before settling in London and training at Rose Bruford, one of UK’s leading drama schools. Abe first gained UK wide recognition playing the role of Miko in the hit comedy Ideal starring Johnny Begas and Janeane Garofalo. Her other work includes Tiger Aspect Production’s ‘The Things I haven’t Told’ starring Andrew Lincoln, SciFi’s ‘Slingers’ starring Sean Pertwee, ITV’s My Phone Genie, and Universal Picture’s  ’47Ronin’ starring Keanu Reeves as well as multi-award winning short films ‘Stanley Pickle’, ‘Shoose’ and ‘Precision’.

1. Hi, nice to meet you Haruka. I think you are a very talented actress! You are originally from Tokyo but now I see you are working as an actress based in London. I actually got to know you when I first saw the movie ’47 Ronin’ starring Keanu Reeves.  Hiroyuki Sanada, Asano Tadanobu , Ko Shibasaki and Rinko Kikuchi were at the Japan premier last year (2013) in Tokyo. Your part was the outstanding one to me, so I remembered you from that movie very well.  How did you get that role and in what way were you influenced by your work with “47 Ronin”? Tell me how you felt performing in such a large Hollywood production as a Japanese actress?

Lovely to meet you too, and thank you! I initially went in for a casual chat with the casting director to talk about 47 Ronin before she started auditioning people (She is one of the loveliest people ever!). A week or so later I was called in to read for the role of Mika, who was played by Koh Shibasaki in the film. I was then called back to audition for the role I played in the film.  I was ecstatic when I found out I got the part, and it was truly and utterly an amazing experience to be a part of such a big film with so many amazing Japanese actors.

(47Ronin trailer)
Haruka abe

2. I heard that you were born in Tokyo and lived in NYC and London with your family as a child and moved back to Japan for a while to finish school. Afterwards, you moved back to London again to go to acting school? Is that correct? If so you are a native English speaker? Not like a Japanese actor who is having a hard time learning English to act in the movies. I know that Hollywood often gives Asian parts such as geeks and nerds. What do you think about that and do you have any strategy to beat that kind of prejudice against Asian actors?

Yes, I was born in Tokyo but spent my childhood moving between Tokyo, New York and London. I’d say I’m *almost* native, but I still have good English days and bad English days; on bad English days my grammar is all over the place and I keep mixing up Rs and Ls.
I do agree that there is a shortage for good roles for Asian actors, though I do think it’s getting better, especially in the States. UK is still a little behind,  but it’s getting there. I think being proactive and creating our own work is the only way to improve the situation. We can sit and complain about the misrepresentation of Asian people in TV and film,  or we can aspire to be the best regardless of race while creating our own work and showcasing what we have to offer.

Haruka Abe Showreel 2015 from Haruka Abe on Vimeo.

HarukaAbe043. I would like to know why you chose to work as an actress based in London?
Not in Hollywood like many actors choose to do.

I initially moved to London because I wanted to do a degree at a drama school and because I love British arts and culture. London is a great city and you can never get bored of it because it’s really diverse and exciting. I also love British cinema, so it’s a great place to be as an actor. I am planning on spending some time in LA in the near future to see what happens though.

4. I saw your demo reel many times, and I think you are a really talented actress and so attractive and have a lot of faces. I know that it is very important to act in different types of roles as an actress. I really like it, sometimes you look like a cute school girl, sexy, comical, cool and mysterious. When you do acting, what kind of role makes you feel like the “real you”? For example, which movie or which TV drama resembles you most?

Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say.  It’s an interesting question and I don’t think I have an answer to that, because there is a bit of me in all the characters I have played.  I’m pretty boring as a person, but I have quite a paradoxical, messed up personality;  I’m quite vulnerable and shy but I can be very strong and confident. I listen to everything from classical music to jazz to heavy metal, and some days I’m very serious and introverted and other days I’m a complete joker. So I can identify with all the characters I have played so far in equal measure.

5. Which Japanese actor do you respect the most ? Please also tell me the reason too, Haruka.

I’ve always admired Hiroyuki Sanada who was brilliant in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine which is one of my favourite films of all time. But when I worked with him on 47 Ronin his commitment and dedication to his craft and film making blew me away. I also adore Eri Fukatsu. When I was a teenager I  watched a play she was in on the telly and it really inspired me.

6. Have you ever thought about going back to Japan to do movies or TV drama, if there are offers for you?

Of course! I would love to work in Japan too if I have the chance. There are some fantastic Japanese film directors whom I would love to work with. And working on a project in Japan will definitely make my family happy! In an ideal world I would like to travel between Japan, USA and the UK and work in all three countries. Work is my passion and wherever it takes me I’m happy to follow, but that is my dream.

7. To me, you look less like a Japanese actress, and more like a British Asian actress. Is it difficult for you being an actress in London? What is the hardest part for you to be an actress in the UK?

Yes, I’m afraid it is very difficult. Although UK today is very diverse culturally and ethnically, roles for ethnic actors are still very limited. They do exist but the competition to book those roles can be very fierce. But then again, acting is a tough career regardless of race because it is such a fickle and competitive industry.

HarukaAbe058.Which movie or TV series do you recommend to the audience?
Which is your favorite?

Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and Walking Dead. These three are my ultimate favourites and I am completely obsessed by them. I also highly recommend Hannibal, Les Revenants, Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards. I also adore Friends and Lost. It’s funny because I never used to watch TV but now I’m totally obsessed. Some of the current TV shows are so good they blow films out of the water. I think it’s an incredibly exciting time for TV dramas.

9. If you ever get a love scene, how far can go with that? Or do you prefer to avoid the love scenes in bedrooms (as in the love story movie)? Or it could be a music video clip like you just did.

It’s funny you ask that because  I’m currently filming an episode for a new Channel 4 TV drama which involves a love scene. I used to be terrified of the idea until very recently and I’d never done anything like it before, but I realized that it’s actually extremely rewarding as an actor because you get to explore very intimate and vulnerable moments and pure human connections. I do hate exploitative love scenes in films that are there just for the sake of it, so for me it’s really important that it’s for the right project with a great script and team.

HarukaAbe0210. I think there are many people who are into Japanese culture and I am sure that Japanese girls are very popular all of over the world. Do you think that you can use the fact that you are a Japanese actress in the UK or in Hollywood?

I do hope there will be more and more films that are inspired by Japan with Japanese characters because it is a very interesting culture and Japanese actors have a lot to offer.  I don’t really like being pigeonholed as a “Japanese girl”,  but that is my USP and I hope I can make the best out of it.

11. Thank you very much for your cooperation.
Do you have any other messages for your fans?

Thank you so much, you are the best!

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