Karen turns 25 today and we want to wish her the best of birthdays! We wish happiness, health, love!
Christine Woods, Karen Fukuhara, Miyavi and Ross Partridge have joined the cast of Stray, a supernatural noir movie penned by Sleight scribes JD Dillard and Alex Theurer and to be directed by commercials helmer Joe Sill in his feature debut.
Dillard and Theurer will produce under their Engineer banner alongside Eric B. Fleischman and Sean Tabibian’s Diablo Entertainment, which is also financing. The team’s last film Sleight premiered at Sundance this year and hits theaters April 7 through BH Tilt and WWE.
Stray centers on an orphaned teenager who forms an unlikely friendship with the detective investigating her mother’s murder, and together they uncover the supernatural force that threatens her family. CAA is repping domestic rights.
Woods, who co-starred with Stephen Merchant on HBO’s Hello Ladies, is repped by Gersh and just wrapped the Netflix movie Handsome with Jeff Garlin, Natasha Lyonne and Amy Sedaris. Fukuhara, who made her film debut playing Katana in Warner Bros’ DC tentpole Suicide Squad, is repped by UTA and Energy Talent. Miyavi, whose credits include Unbroken and the upcoming Kong: Skull Island, is repped by WME.
Sill is repped by Magnolia Entertainment.
Karen Fukuhara is about to go from girl-next-door to full-blown action hero as she joins Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto and Cara Delevingne in the film adaptation of the popular comic book Suicide Squad. Having started her career as a host on the Disney Channel, she moved on to Japanese TV shows while finishing up a degree at UCLA.
Scroll down a few rows on her Instagram and you’ll get a glimpse into the gruelling workouts she’s had to endure ahead of the movie. With the cast doing their own stunts, the process of getting a superhero physique is one steeped in extremities.
Amuse caught up with Karen ahead of the London premiere to ask about karate, katanas and the day-to-day reality of becoming a superhero.
I heard you were an ace in martial arts. How fit were you before filming Suicide Squad?
I used to practise a form of karate called Kyokushin, and I was a competitor in the forms division. I stopped one step away from a black belt when I went off to college. It all came back to me when we started training for Suicide Squad! We trained in fitness, martial arts and sword fighting every day during pre-production. Then kept it up during filming as well. They all worked hand in hand. My fitness trainer would discuss with my fight coordinator which muscles were necessary to manoeuvre the heavy sword.
Your character is such an important female hero as well as a prominent Asian figure in comic books. The use of her namesake “Katana” weapon is so vital. What was it like training with the Katana?
I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to play such a powerful, strong woman. I hope that Katana is a hero that little girls can look up to. Our director David Ayer made an effort to be truthful to the comic book characters and a big part of staying truthful is having the right ethnic actor play the roles. I hope to see more Asian representation in future films. Shooting the action sequences were some of my favourite days of filming, and I think they became my favourite because I had spent so much time training. I was the most fit I had been in my entire life, and with that came the physical capability to do most of my stunts. It was so fulfilling to see the work that not only me and the cast, but also the stuntmen and fight coordinators put into the movie.
What dietary changes did you have to make for the film?
I absolutely love to eat! Dietary changes were extremely difficult. It mainly consisted of quinoa, chicken breast and lots of greens.
What is your favourite juice?
I want a juicer so badly! I love the kale, spinach, green apple combination. I think the healthiest way to eat is to cook your own food. It’s so hard to eat out and skip the warm bread that comes out at the beginning of the meal… or the delicious hearty spaghetti! I’m a sucker for carbs! The team really liked sushi. Sometimes we would get Sugarfish take-out. Nobu has also been a staple.
LA’s obsession with fitness seems more like a religion. What workout are you devoted to?
I started going back to my karate dojo, so I love doing that. On top of that, I go to the gym a couple times a week. I think exercising not only keeps me in shape but also revitalises my energy. On days I work out, I get much more done throughout the day! For cardio I either go on the rower or treadmill – lately I’ve been hitting the treadmill so I can catch up on my favourite TV shows.
What skin tips have you discovered in LA? Is there a spa or treatment you are obsessed with?
The Korean spas Downtown are great to flush all the toxins out of your skin. I actually just recently got my first facial and it was life-changing, but I think everyday care is more important; removing your makeup, double cleansing if need be, toning, moisturising, and frequent exfoliating. I love my Clarisonic on days I feel I need the extra help with cleansing my face. I’m always in the market for good skincare, so if anyone has any recommendations or tips, I’d love to hear!
Do you have any tips on how to shake a hangover?
I am absolutely THE WORST with hangovers! It takes me a full day to recover if it’s an especially bad day. I like eating soup but I almost feel like eating makes me feel worse. The best way to shake a hangover is to stay in bed and cuddle with your best friend to talk about all that’s happened the night before.
Most actresses don’t see their first big movies bring in over $267 million in global box-office sales on opening weekend. But such is the case for Karen Fukuhara, the 24-year-old who plays DC Comics character Tatsu Yamashiro, a.k.a. Katana, in Suicide Squad. And she has no plans for slowing down after her big-screen debut.
Fukuhara grew up in California and began her acting career as a host of the Disney show Movie Surfers when she was in middle school. “It’s been a journey,” she says. “My childhood consisted of a mixture of American and Japanese culture — I would go to regular school during the weekdays, then go to Saturday school to learn all subjects in Japanese. Coming from a first-generation immigrant family, we didn’t know how to break into the industry. We didn’t have any connections or the means to know the necessary steps to work toward this goal.”
As fate would have it, the same casting director she worked with at Disney would one day help her get an audition for Suicide Squad. But all the fate in the world wouldn’t have made a difference if she hadn’t decided to prioritize acting as her career. “In the end, I think what led me to Suicide Squad was my willingness and courage to dive into what I was passionate about. After graduating college, I finally allowed myself to strive for what I loved to do, even if there were no guarantees that I would be able to make a living off of acting. This, combined with my life experiences prior — like stars aligning — led me to this lovely role of Katana within the DC Comics universe.”
The first thing she did once she got the part? “I read the comics! Being in this kind of movie requires lots of research. Katana has her own comics, so I spent a great deal of time learning about her past, her relationship to her beloved husband, Maseo, and her connection to her sword, the Soultaker. Her strength comes from her experiences, and that was what I was drawn to.”
To physically prep for the role, she worked with Mad Max: Fury Road’s Guy Norris and Richard Norton, who helped coordinate all her fights and hone her skills in sword fighting and martial arts. She did all of her stunts in the movie, calling on her knowledge of karate, which she’s been studying since middle school.
So far, her Hollywood experience has been better than she could have imagined. “I got so lucky with my castmates! Not only are they extremely talented, they are also some of the most grounded people I know. They have become my mentors and lifelong friends. I trust them with all my heart.”
Going from being a struggling actor to seeing action figures based on her character has been “a surreal experience,” she says, but it’s one that Fukuhara has pushed for her entire life. “I believe film and television should reflect our society, and the reality is that there are people in many different shapes and sizes, ethnicities, sexual orientation, the list goes on. I just hope we are given more opportunities.”