Singer-songwriter Masumi’s had a unique and whirlwind experience shooting Yakuza Princess. She married co-star Kenny Leu two days before production. Thus work assumedly took the place of a honeymoon, as they traveled to São Paulo, Brazil to shoot the feature!
Based on the graphic novel Samurai Shiro by Danilo Beyruth, the narrative centers on Akemi (Masumi), an orphan who discovers that she is an heiress of a Yakuza crime syndicate. Tsuyoshi Ihara is the mysterious figure who travels from Japan to Brazil in an attempt to either kill or rescue Akemi. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is an amnesiac and skilled fighter who also plays a part in Akemi’s journey.
With a foot set in two different cultures, Akemi must confront a tragic past that threatens her survival. It’s a fully fleshed role that Masumi, a neophyte actress, handled with aplomb.
Masumi’s creatively is rooted in music, and her song “Run Baby, Run” is featured in the movie. She actually started acting classes three months before she nailed the part. Whether one has years of training or is a neophyte, one has to be ready when opportunity comes knocking!
“All art merges,” said Masumi about blending her music with acting. “They feed each other. The way that I attend to my music definitely helped my acting as well.”
Ironically, one scene deals with Akemi doing karaoke in a bar, and since she was not playing a pop star, she had to lay off the golden pipes and musicianship.
“It did not help me there,” said Masumi. “In the beginning I was too professional about it. I was thinking about singing as Masumi. And this was not helping my character! We tried to work it out so it would be more like Akemi.”
Masumi talks about being “excited” about being the lead in Yakuza Princess, since it’s a lead role that, for Japanese actresses, is hard to come by:
Yakuza Princess is now out in theaters and On Demand. Check out my full interview with Masumi below and feel free to share your thoughts on Yakuza Princess!