of publishing: 25th July 2005
Kevan Ohtsji, originated from Japan has always lived in
Canada with his family. He began his actor career as a teenager
out of necessity to be understood. He fights to open the
eyes of the narrowly focused and to give the same chances
to all the actors no matter their ethnic origin.
Kevan is known by the Stargate fans as Oshu, the Prima of
Lord Yu. He played in 5 episodes until now. He also played
in movies such as Elektra and Crying Freeman, his first
job as an actor.
Gilles Nuytens: Hello
kevan, how are you? Can you talk a bit about you, what led
you to begin the actor career?
Kevan Ohtsji: I began my acting career
a teenager out of necessity to be understood. Exploring
emotions and the ability to release them in performance
excited me. After the initial steps, I decided to begin
my studying on a more professional level. Today I have a
more philosophical grounding in my film work with the driving
force being a desire open the eyes of the narrowly focused.
I hope to have the privilege of being part of projects that
challenge and celebrate the human spirit.
Nuytens: What do you most
enjoy in that job?
Kevan Ohtsji: Those moments of perfection
when you can feel a real connection and understanding with
the other actor in a scene. When that happens, there is
usually a mutual respect within all the cast and crew sharing
in the experience. It's a difficult experience to articulate
into words, but a very powerful and rewarding moment.
I also love meeting writers and directors who dedicate and
give their all, putting their blood, sweat, tears and soul
into the work. It's something you can just feel in your
gut. And more often than not, productions like these unveil
gems of magical moments both on and off screen.
Gilles Nuytens: You
would like to have a role in a big drama movie. Is there
a particular character you would like to play? What would
be THE role of your career?
Kevan Ohtsji: If I had to choose THE role
of my career, it would have to be that of a samurai in ancient
Japan. Close seconds would be to play a lawyer, and a WWII
Gilles Nuytens: You
played in 5 episodes of Stargate SG-1; what were your best
memories on the set?
Kevan Ohtsji: I remember stepping into
my trailer after blocking a scene, closing my eyes and giving
thanks for a role that I believe embodied the soul of my
reason to becoming an actor.
With my costume I would take up to 10 minutes to go the
washroom, and I would need assistance from wardrobe to put
on and take it off. I had to limit coffee consumption.
Another memorable moment was doing a scene with Torri Higginson
where Oshu begged, "Free us to fight, or let us die with
honor." She was fantastic to work with and a real gem of
an actor. Also Martin Wood cracked me up when after each
scene he would yell " and.CUT!" with a giddy enthusiasm.
You had to be there.
Gilles Nuytens: You
character in that show is closely related to Lord Yu, played
by Vince Crestejo. How was it to work with him? What kind
of people is he ?
Kevan Ohtsji: Vince was total pleasure
to work with. He was very down to earth and always happy
it really made for a wonderful working environment. Lord
Yu commands such a dignified respect and one to be feared,
but outside of filming Vince is just the nicest guy and
would always be cracking jokes.
Gilles Nuytens: My
favourite question: do you have a funny anecdote from the
sets you would like to share with us ?
Kevan Ohtsji: Someone blew a fart, a real
Gilles Nuytens: Last
time we saw you in Stargate (episode "Reckoning, part 1"),
Lord Yu was just stabbed by the "twin" of Sam Carter. At
the end, we do not know what happened to your character
because the scene ends there. Do you think he is dead? If
it is not the case, do you have some clues about his faith
and if we will see you again in season 9?
Kevan Ohtsji: I believe Oshu is still alive,
and I would believe that his faith would be deeply shaken
but his people are the most important and he would sacrifice
anything for their survival. He is deeply a creature of
honor and valor. So far I haven't shot anything since, so
to be honest I don't know if he'll be coming back or not,
but I'd have to say that in my career he was my favorite
character to play.
Nuytens: During the last
years the Japanese culture gain some interest by the occidental
youth mainly with the growing popularity of mangas and Japanese
cartoons. The phenomenon began in Europe then gained the
United States. Has this fact impacted your career ?
Kevan Ohtsji: Japanese manga gave rise
to very first role in the film version of the popular manga,
Crying Freeman. I think the world as a whole is more conscious
of itself and its wonderful diversity and I believe that
more films are being made that reflect truer representations
of all cultures and societies than ever before.
Gilles Nuytens: What
are your future projects ?
Kevan Ohtsji: Future projects have included
television, animation, video games, film and indie film
alike, but my current future project would have to be myself
writing a screenplay set in ancient Japan.
Gilles Nuytens: Which
models have influenced your career?
Kevan Ohtsji: There are so many greats
to draw from, but to narrow it down I would have to say
Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Oliver Stone, Wong Kar Wai, Steven
Soderberg, Anthony Hopkins, and Marlon Brando.
Gilles Nuytens: If
you did not become an actor what should have you liked to
Kevan Ohtsji: I went to school for marketing
communications, so probably advertising. Either that or
small business, I find that I have quite the entrepreneurial
Gilles Nuytens: Did
you keep contact with the staff members and the actors of
Kevan Ohtsji: Just yesterday I went to
a BBQ with Kira Clavell (Amaterasu). We had ostrich burgers.not
bad at all! She is another splendid actor and sweetheart
to work with.
Gilles Nuytens: The
characters you receive are generally secondary, either good
or bad guys, you are often behind someone else. This is
in fact generally the case for a number of asian actors.
What are you willing to do to change this situation?
Kevan Ohtsji: This has been the situation
for most ethnic minorities. The industry has grown immensely
from the ethnic stereotypes in media that existed 10 years
ago. It is a constant concern and personal battle for me
to help break stereotypes with media.
I taught acting lessons at the National Nikkei Heritage
Centre in hopes of encouraging Asian youth to the arts.
I have also served on the executive boards of both the Japanese
Powell Street Festival (promotes Japanese Canadian arts
and culture), and the Vancouver Asian Film Festival. I have
actor friends of all ethnicities whom I help, and who in
turn help me. Our struggles and triumphs all share a common
thread in that we are all artists, each gifted and each
with our own journeys. I have been trying to write screenplays
and it is my goal to eventually have one them made. Other
than that, I take special care in encouraging fellow Asian
artists to write films, direct shorts, produce films, and
break stereotypes not by complaining about our present state,
but rather by giving our all to our craft. In that I believe
we can be recognized for our work as artists and not only
That was a very good question, and I thank you for asking
Gilles Nuytens: Before
playing in Stargate did you know well the show?
Kevan Ohtsji: To be honest I did not know
the show well, other than understanding the general premise.
Once on set I was met by a wonderful cast and crew that
truly cared about what the show stood for. I give much respect
Nuytens: The role you
are playing, Oshu, Yu's First Prime, seems to be someone
who thinks and is clear-sighted. Do you have some common
points with him regarding the character and the personality?
How should you describe him?
Kevan Ohtsji: I would describe Oshu as
a person who holds honor and integrity above all. He is
clear sighted, analytical, compassionate, loyal, and able
to reason. These are the attributes I chose to embody Oshu
with, and probably why he is my favorite character to play.
These characteristics when challenged by circumstance make
for excellent drama and a chance for the audience to understand
sometimes there are no clear cut right and wrong choices.
only the intention to do the best with what we've got today.
In terms of identifying with Oshu, I believe and would hope
that I personally share his noble character traits.
Gilles Nuytens: In
the occidental cinema, it appears that sometimes, producers
uses non-asian actors to play the role of asian, it was
essentially the case some decades ago but my exemple is
in the movie "Crying Freeman" where you took a part. The
main role was the one of a japanese but played by a non-asian,
Mark Dacascos, he did a very good job in the role that's
not the point but for me I find that weird and not really
credible for the movie. I heard they tried to use real japanese
actors but it seemed that the main role wasn't. What do
you think about that and what are your feelings ?
Kevan Ohtsji: That's a very good question
Gilles. My feelings on this are that if the actor truly
fits the part but is not of the ethnicity written, then
it is justified. Take for example Ben Kingsley in the role
of Gandhi, who I thought did a magnificent job and after
watching his performance one was moved by the spirit of
his character. Now as an Asian actor and without many leading
roles written for us, I do cringe when the typical Asian
martial arts star lands the dramatic role so unsuitable
for him, but is handed the part because of his notoriety.
And I am sad to discover films lacking in depth of story
where the leading roles written for Asians happen to be
about martial arts, or gangs simply to sell the show.
I love good mafia films, and action flicks, but I really
can't stand gratuitous violence or special effects when
there is no reason other than for 'effect'.
One word. RESPECT. This sums up the way I feel about the
occidental cinema. Replacing an ethnic actor for the sake
of effect, as opposed to the sake of the well being of the
film hurts the project and whittles away the integrity of
the industry as a whole. I am proud to find the world has
become more open and understanding of itself and the richness
of different cultures in addition to the acceptance of individuals
as individuals regardless of race, gender, or religion.
You are a prime example of one who is open to different
cultures, welcomes the uniqueness of each, and takes the
time to learn of and ask intelligent questions. So with
that I thank you. I thank you with respect for asking such
thoughtful and provocative questions.
Gilles Nuytens: Thanks
a lot for this interview. I hope to see you again very soon
in Stargate or in some other great movie!
Kevan Ohtsji: Thank you! It was my pleasure.