The Wolverine Interview: Will Yun Lee on Harada

The Wolverine claws its way into cinemas this week in what will be the character’s sixth appearance on the big...

Amon Warmann

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The Wolverine claws its way into cinemas this week in what will be the character’s sixth appearance on the big screen. Loosely based on the Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s beloved 1982 comic book miniseries, the James Mangold directed flick will see Logan journey to Japan to say his goodbye’s to an old acquaintance, only to become embroiled in a power struggle.

No stranger to the Marvel universe, having played Kirigi in 2005’s ill-fated Elektra, in The Wolverine Will Yun Lee plays Kenuichio Harada, leader of a ninja clan whose sole mission is to protect Mariko, which puts him at odds with Logan. What Culture recently caught up with the talented actor to discuss how he prepared for the role, and what he tried to bring to his character. Have a read below.

On what research he did to prepare for the role:

“There’s not a straightforward approach to any of the characters in terms of relationships. So a lot of it was just sitting down with James and getting his ideas and really figuring out why Harada does what he does.

“This whole fight with the warrior code and what the right thing to do is; that was initially the biggest thing in terms of working on the character.

“I also had the pleasure of working with Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays Shingen Yashida in the movie. He really helped me with the Japanese and the culture and getting under the skin of the character.”

On what he tried to bring to the character:

“I think for me, especially during the fight scenes, just try to add a sense of fun. There is a big fight scene with Hugh, and it’s a big action set-piece.

“At the same time, towards the end of the movie when you see how the relationship has developed. It was more on the side of making sure these relationships meant something so that we understood why he was doing what he was doing.

“In terms of the scene I have where I’m very connected with Tao’s character Mariko, that was probably the most collaborative scene, and again we just wanted to make sure that we understood why the character was doing what he was doing.”

On the training for the film:

“We trained for about 3 weeks before the movie, and the action design king 87 Eleven are definitely one of the best in the business. I’ve done a couple of projects with them in the past so it was kind of like coming home to family.

“We trained for about 3 hours every day on the traditional stances, sword fighting and archery. My style that I studied was Taekwondo and the Japanese martial arts that was brought into this film was a much deeper kind of stance.

“They beat me up every day to make sure that I stuck to it! If you were to challenge me to a sword fight right now I might not be that effective but I’ll tell you where the camera is!”

On working with Hugh Jackman:

“I think it hits you the most when you’re on that airplane headed to Australia. You’re definitely giddy and you can’t believe you’re getting to do this, but the thing about Hugh, and I’m sure every cast member will say this, is that he has this ability to genuinely make you feel like you belong there, and not many people do that.

“I think that ability allows everyone to just show up and do their work, and that’s a rare gift. I’ve worked on a lot of different sets and you always kind of feel like you’re tiptoeing.

“Most A-list stars go straight back to their trailers during lunches and Hugh is probably the only guy that I’ve worked with at that level who would eat with the cast and crew every day.

On future projects and playing any more comic book characters:

“I’m doing a show called Intelligence with Josh Holloway that will come out next year. I wish there were more characters in the comic book universe that were Asian, but I’ve always been intrigued with the Master of Kung Fu.”

The Wolverine hits UK cinemas on 25 July, 2013. You can read our review here.