One thing the teasers have hammered home to audiences in the ramp up to “Suicide Squad’s” theatrical debut is, it’s never been so good to be bad. However, not everyone on the team deserves to be locked up with the keys thrown away. Take, for example, Katana, a samurai warrior with an apparently unwavering moral code, who serves on the Squad less in the interest of saving the world and more as Rick Flag’s protector.
Of course, it helps that she possesses a sword capable of trapping the soul of its victims inside the blade, which makes her a bit more dangerous than your average sword-wielding hero. Wait — did we say “a bit more dangerous?”
“[S]he’s one of the deadliest,” newcomer Karen Fukuhara told the press of her character during a set visit last summer, before catching and correcting herself. “She is the deadliest [Squad member].” In other words, Katana is the one person the rest of the team — and everyone else — should make sure to watch their manners around.
You were one of the few cast members who had to be watching all the press thinking, “They don’t know about me. They don’t know who I’m playing.” When the official image came out, you were one of the genuine surprises — that Katana is even in this movie.
Karen Fukuhara: Yeah. Online it said I was going to be playing Plastique, which was interesting because she’s a red-headed, green-eyed, voluptuous woman. But, yeah, it was kind of amazing to see our first photo go up, and then the positive reactions that came with it.
Can you talk about how you won this role and what the audition process was like?
Well, I auditioned like everyone else. I know that they looked all over Asia for someone who spoke English, and also Japanese, and also knew how to do all the stunt work. So my audition consisted of a monologue, dialogue and then a one-minute martial arts demonstration, and then a one-minute swordfighting demonstration. Which was really funny, because on my audition sheet it said, “Oh, you know, if you have a sword, make sure you bring it so that you can show us what you can do.” And I was thinking in my head, “How many people have swords at home to just bring on to the audition?” But I got lucky, because a friend of a friend, who was into swordfighting, was nice enough to give me a private lesson the day before and show me a couple tricks and let me borrow his sword.
Katana has a very interesting, complex background. How much of that backstory did you have to flesh out in order to get to know this character?
I got lucky because Katana has her own comic book series, and then I read “Birds of Prey.” It helps a lot when you know the backstory of her character, because in this movie, I don’t think you see much of that. But bringing that, and knowing that at the back of my mind really helps with playing the character and doing all the action and everything. She’s an exquisite martial artist and a swordsman — swordswoman — player of swords.
The production, they’ve helped me a lot with fitness, martial arts training and swordfight training. We did it almost every day, so that’s helped a lot as well. Not only just the mental part in doing the research behind the character in terms of comics, but also physically, like looking the part and also being able to do all the stunts.
In the comics, the character has normally been portrayed as heroic, a member of the Outsiders and on other teams. In this film, she’s hanging with supervillains. What’s her role? How does she fit in with those characters?
She’s the protector of Rick Flag, so I’d like to think she’s still one of the only characters that are so-called “good,” or, you know, “heroic.” She has her own moral code. Her oath is to give back to who she owes it to. And I think for this movie it’s Rick Flag, along with Amanda Waller — but who knows what she’s thinking.
How well does she interact with the other Suicide Squad members?
Throughout the movie, it grows. In the beginning it’s not so friendly. She’s her own person, she’s a lone wolf. I think by the end of it she finds her family, and that’s her story, and her journey to overcome trust issues as well and becoming part of a team and the Squad.
I take it you have a number of scenes with Joel Kinnaman if you’re playing his protector?
Pretty much all of my scenes. A lot of my scenes are with the Squad. See, that’s the thing, that’s why we’re all so close now. Because we shoot 12 [hours], and sometimes more, and we’re always together. So in our downtime, we always hang out.
You have some scratches on your face. Are they scars?
Yeah, they’re scars.
So would it be safe to say she’s just as deadly as the others?
I think she’s one of the deadliest… she is the deadliest. Yeah, she is the deadliest.
Fact. She’s not into fighting for herself. It’s for someone else. And when someone doesn’t care about her own well-being — to kill someone else and to protect someone — that makes her the scariest one. Try fighting someone that doesn’t care about what the outcome is for them, you know? You’re going against someone who’s going to give it their all no matter how many times you shoot at them. That’s why she’s so badass.
You mentioned that she’s close to Rick Flag, and working with Rick and Amanda. Does she create any relationships or bond with any of the other Suicide Squad members? What members do you get to have scenes with and bond with?
I think all of them. The Squad is always together, so it’s not just one character.
We’ve heard you’ve been doing a lot of your own stunts.
Yep, it’s fun. It’s really fun. The adrenaline starts, and you kind of forget about what’s around you and you’re just slicin’ and dicin’.
Is there a particular stunt that you’re the most proud of?
Oooh… I mean, we haven’t shot all the fight sequences yet, so I can’t really say. There are some really cool cuts, especially with CGI, coming up. We haven’t shot it yet, I think we’re doing it tomorrow, but we’ll be slicing someone from here [gestures to groin] up. And then it’s going to split, so that should look really cool. It was so funny, the stunt guy that I’m slicing — there are times when I’m a little too close, distance-wise. [Laughs]
For everything we’ve heard of the cast, on and off-camera, it sounds like this is a good one to start out on, if you’re talking about finding a family by the end of it.
Yeah. I mean, I have nothing to compare it to because, like you said, it’s my first movie. But we’ve just become such a little family, and we’re going towards the end of our shoot. We have about a month left, I think, and the sadness is already coming in and the pressure of moving away from everyone. A lot of the cast members have been telling me that it doesn’t get as good as this usually. So I really lucked out with how amazing everyone is. Everyone is so caring, and we’re hanging out all the time. We hang out on the weekend, we have a group chat going on with some of the squad members, and the thread is fun. It’s pretty amazing, yeah.
Was it a little intimidating at first, to walk onto your first set and there’s Will Smith and Margot Robbie, Viola Davis and all those people?
Of course. It’s always going to be intimidating to work with such talented actors and actresses, but we had about a month and a half of rehearsals, along with the physical training. So I wasn’t so star-struck or taken aback on the first day of shooting. That was all taken care of in pre-production. And then, even in rehearsals, we would joke around and talk about the characters and also talk about our personal lives. Someone like Will Smith, you have this idea of what he’s going to be like and how intimidating it might be, but he’s just human like all of us. A really great human. It helped out a lot. No big deal.
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