On the Set: Dragonball Evolution Interview with Eriko Tamura
by Bamboo Dong,
Best known for her work in Japanese TV shows and her solo singing albums, Eriko Tamura became known amongst Heroes fans for playing the swordsman's daughter. She plays her first villain character in Dragonball: Evolution as Mai, who joins up with Piccolo. It's hard to picture her as a villain, though. Cute and peppy throughout the interview, she didn't seem like the type of person who'd ever get angry enough to punch someone.
This interview was a recorded, group interview with multiple news organizations. Credit for the questions is attributed in part to Comic Book Movies, Comics2Film, IESB, IGN, MovieWeb, SciFi.
Tell us about your character. You're not a nice girl in this.
No. *laughs* Very far from that. My character is a villain who's teamed up with Piccolo. My character is determined, strong, and tough. She knows what she wants and she gets it.
Do you shoot guns?
Yes. I use guns towards the end with my fight with Bulma. For the most part, I am doing a little bit of martial arts. Wushu, Chinese martial arts.
How did you train for the martial arts?
I am still practicing wushu in LA. After I moved to LA from Tokyo, I took tae kwan do, as well as wushu. I've been practicing for two years.
Were you a fan of Dragon Ball originally?
Somewhat. Not too much. In Japan, it's been around for quite a long time. I think it's been around for 20 years or so. People who used to watch the show are now grown up, so it covers all the generations.
How does this experience compare to your experience on Heroes?
It is totally different. In Heroes, I am playing a really good girl. A nice girl. In this movie, I am playing an assassin who is coming from a different planet, so yeah, it is very different.
What did you try and take from the original show, and bring to your character?
I was asked the same question by the Japanese press a few days ago. They were concerned because they are big fans of the cartoon. They wanted to know how each character would be portrayed in this movie, and I think I would love to do justice to my character.
How different is this from the stuff that you did when you were working in Japan?Is the character like anything you've ever done?
Oh, nothing like anything I've done in Japan. This is the first time that I've played a villain in my whole life. To be honest with you, it's really difficult at first, because I really wanted to play a good villain. James Marsters has been playing a villain for a long time, and he's really good. He knows how to turn it on and off, you know, but I did not know how to. I really worked hard on the script, and by the time I got here, I was pretty ready and focused. Except for my character, everybody else like Emmy, Justin, and Chow are fun character. They are having a good time on set. At the same time, I have to really go to that really dark place every time, because Jim really wants me to go there, and he doesn't give me the okay unless I deliver that. But right now, we're near the completion of the film, so I am feeling better. I am going back to normal.
Sounds like you felt you were under a lot of pressure.
Exactly. I think I was. I was almost crying, but that helped, because when I was almost crying, I would fight with that feeling, and anger came out. And then Jim would give me the okay. *laughs*
Is it easy to let that go when you are done filming?
It was not, actually. This is my first American film, so I just did the best that I could deliver. I don't know, maybe I'll get used to it. Maybe after this, I will be good at knowing how to switch myself.
How do you get into that mind set?
I have been acting since I was 14. I break down the script, break down my scene, and my character, which is what I did over the holidays. But still, it was not so easy doing that on the set each time, but that's my job, and I really enjoy it.
How do you feel about getting your own action figure?
I think it's great. They were scanning my body last night. Yesterday and the day before yesterday, they did many dimensions of me. They scanned our bodies, in our costumes with the make up and the hair and the wig.
Were there other movie villains you were inspired by?
Actually, the movies and characters that Jim told me to watch weren't exactly villains. Like, Trinity in The Matrix, Uma Therman's character in Kill Bill. That kind of strong, tough woman who fights. But at the same time, I did my own research because I have never played a villain, or been in an American movie.
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