David Sakurai Talks Diversity, the Inspiration of Jim Morrison, and Housewife
David Sakurai’s Headshot courtesy of his Instagram Page (@davidsakurai)
There are many indirect paths to Hollywood. David Sakurai may be playing Krall in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald later this year, but his journey to mainstream notoriety within the Harry Potter universe was cemented by his pivotal performance as Bruce O’Hara in last year’s Housewife.
That role is a turning point for Sakurai, illustrating his ability to probe dark characters while also getting over with audiences. I had the chance to talk with David ahead of the October 2nd DVD ($27.97), VOD, and digital releases of the film about his diverse background, how Jim Morrison inspired Bruce O’Hara, and the complexities of love at the heart of Housewife.
Being of mixed background — his mother was Danish and his father was Japanese — David searched for belonging as a child. “Growing up in Denmark I was always inspired by movies. But there wasn’t much around me to keep me inspired or anyone around for me to identify with,” he recalls. Instead, David found direction in Hollywood: “I looked around to films and characters in the States. It was always somewhere I could identify more with, I guess, being part of two worlds, part of the Western world and part of the Japanese community.”
However, even in Hollywood, role models on which to base his career were limited in the 1980s and 1990s. “Growing up I was a huge Bruce Lee fan, of course. So I thought maybe that’s the path I have to go,” David admits. “I have a huge love for action films, but my projects over the last few years have been anything but action films.” He credits this move towards a wide array of projects to a change in attitude: “I have a very optimistic approach to being in the industry. I can’t worry about being a half-Asian actor. That would be self-defeating.”
David Sakurai (top), Clémentine Poidatz (middle) on the Movie Poster for Housewife
Poster Courtesy of RLJE Films
Openness and a love for the work of Turkish writer-director Can Evrenol (Baskin, Protector) made accepting a role in Housewife an obvious choice for David. The story centers on Holly, portrayed with vulnerable allure by Clémentine Poidatz, who struggles to live with the trauma of seeing her mother drown her sister in a toilet as a child. Compounding the terror are visions of paranormal “visitors” that threaten her sanity, blurring the lines between reality and psychological breakdown. She meets the charismatic and manipulative guru Bruce O’Hara just in time. He offers to penetrate her dreams, help her escape the painful memories, and locates a path to happiness.
“Can wrote the part with me in mind,” David says. “Six months after that he contacted me saying every time he wrote the character, my face popped up. David was intrigued by Evrenol’s description of Bruce O’Hara as “the devil in disguise. But then we had to figure out who is this character?” For that, David turned to another of his major inspirations: music.
David Sakurai in Housewife
Photo Courtesy of RLJE Films
David’s answer to the problem of grounding a character that was part L. Ron Hubbard and part David Koresh was Jim Morrison. “My personal bible was looking at rock stars that I grew up with. I was listening to the Doors constantly on this project,” he revealed. “For me, getting into Bruce’s head was listening to Jim Morrison everyday.” Feeding off of the Lizard King’s charisma and ability to hold crowds in the palm of his hand was exactly what David needed to make Bruce O’Hara intimidating yet grounded. “We’ve all seen these gurus in both modern life and modern societies, but also in the world of mysticism,” he concludes. “In my heart I also had to find a confidence in being him and seeing how I could not play him like a mystic monk kind of type.”
In many ways Housewife hinges on Bruce O’Hara’s ability to engage viewers. He is the key to Holly’s transformation, asking her — and all of us by extension — to submit to an investigation of our dreams. In that submission anything is possible and there is no protection from full exposure, for better or worse. That kind of complete accessibility changed David’s interpretation of the film: “I didn’t go into this project thinking of it as a horror movie. For me, it was a love story.” For sure, Housewife sheds light on the complexities of love between fellow humans, between mothers and children, and the love we feel for ourselves.
Clémentine Poidatz in Housewife
Photo Courtesy of RLJE Films
David is able to understand this love because of his winding path. And we are lucky to continue the journey with him. Make sure to catch him alongside Clémentine Poidatz, Kapudag in Housewife. The film is co-produced by Anka Film, Chantier Films, and Mo Film. It’s distributed by RJLE Films in the United States and Chantier Films in Turkey.