Cult superhero drama Heroes finally returned to our screens this year with its long-awaited progeny, Heroes Reborn. Japanese actress Kiki Sukezane brings to life the kick-ass computer character Katana Girl, as well as her real-world counterpart, Miko Otomo. We were lucky enough to catch up with Kiki to discuss the show, as well as samurai swords and motion-capture back-flipping…
Miko is probably one of the strangest heroes the show has ever seen. Did you know how complicated the character was when you first got the role?
No! I didn’t know at all! When I got the part, I knew that she had to use a sword and that she had a lot of fight scenes, but I didn’t know her full story, because the writers were changing a lot, even when we were shooting! At the beginning she’s just this Japanese girl who lives in Tokyo and she also happens to be a video game character called Katana Girl. But she doesn’t know that she is a game character for almost half of the show. She’s trying to find her father, Hachiro Otomo (Hiro Kanagawa) and so in her journey with Ren (Toru Uchikado), she kind of finds out that she’s not really human.
How did you feel when you discovered that you weren’t “real”?
(laughs) I loved it! I love the story of Miko because it’s really new… There’s not many stories like that! To have a character that can go in and out of a game and fight… I felt that was really cool and really interesting to play. I had to play both the human and the game character. In the game, Evernow, I did all the motion capture, so I had a bunch of dots on my body. All the enemies were motion capture as well, so it’s all real movements. Except the flipping in the air and stuff. But all of the fighting is real movement, so that was really cool.
How did you first get the part of Miko?
That was an interesting story actually! I go to a samurai sword fighting club in L.A. and there’s a boy who’s a junior high school student who comes to the class every week. His mom knows the casting director, so she kind of introduced me to them and got me the audition. So I didn’t have a manager or an agent at that time. It was so lucky!
Heroes has such a huge following. How daunting was it to become a part of that?
I couldn’t believe it until it actually aired in the U.S., because I was watching the original series back when I was in high school in Japan, so I really couldn’t believe that it had happened. I was so happy that I got the role!
Masi Oka gained a huge fan-base in Japan off the back of Heroes. Have you had that same reaction over there?
Yeah, I think so! Probably more than Masi right now, because I have an agency in Japan who worked really hard for a couple of months getting me on talk-shows in Japan a lot. Right now, everyone knows me in Japan, which is great! I came to L.A. four years ago, and before that I was acting in Tokyo for a couple of years. I did two movies, but they weren’t really big movies. They only showed in a couple of theatres in Japan. Then, when I came to L.A., I did some TV shows produced by an American/Japanese company, but they never aired. So I never really did anything big before Heroes Reborn.
What first brought you to L.A.?
I’ve wanted to be on TV since I was little. I’ve also wanted to work for UNICEF or something like that for a long time too. So I went to Tanzania after I graduated high school, and there I met someone who works as a volunteer, and I talked to him a lot about my future. He advised me to go to university to develop my skills and knowledge. But then at the same time I wanted to pursue acting. Then I thought about Angelina Jolie, and she does all the stuff that I want to do, using her name to help people. And that’s what I wanted to do, so moving to L.A. seemed the right thing to get me there!
If Heroes Reborn were to get picked up for a second season on Netflix, or one of the other On Demand services, where do you see your character heading?
I think Miko must have some sort of power. Katana Girl is just a game character who her father brought from Evernow into the real world. So he had a power. But Miko? We don’t know! Katana Girl found her plugged into the machine at the end, which means she must have some kind of power. Maybe she was just there because she was Hachiro Otomo’s daughter, but then that machine was created to absorb the powers. I don’t know, but I believe that human Miko must have some kind of power. I don’t know what it is, but I hope it’s something cool!
Heroes Reborn is out on DVD and Blu-ray from 9 May from Universal Pictures (UK)