Who better to play a sword-fighting warrior than a bona fide Samurai?
Kiki Sukezane is descended from Samurai on her father’s side, and her blade-handling ability earned the Kyoto, Japan native the role of Miko Otomo in Heroes Reborn, the 13-episode continuation of the Heroes story that kicks off Sept. 24 at 8 (7C) on NBC.
Actually 26, the petite Sukezane is cast as a teenager on a mission to find her missing father who seeks to do that by morphing into Katana Girl, a kickass video game warrior, when she unsheathes her sword. She’s had an equally exciting life, as she explains.
“A lot of men in Japan are really stylish, but in America most guys dress for comfort, in T-shirts, but I like that.”
How did you get the role of Miko?
It’s a really interesting story. I didn’t have an agent or manager, nothing. I’ve been living here for three years and I was in a samurai sword-fighting club in Santa Monica. A boy who was a student there, his mom has a friend who is a casting director for Heroes Reborn. They were looking for a girl who can do sword-fighting. So I was invited to audition for her and then for the show.
Were you a fan of the original Heroes?
Yes. When I was in high school I watched the whole original series. It was huge in Japan.
No doubt–a lot of it was set there, with the Hiro Nakamura storyline. Is yours connected to it in some way?
There is a connection there, yeah. I was so excited to see Masi Oka after seeing him on screen.
What got you into acting?
After I graduated high school, I was doing part time jobs and trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I really wanted to help poor people. I went to Tanzania by myself to volunteer when I was 20; there are so many refugees from other countries there. I really like what Angelina Jolie does—she does exactly what I want to do, humanitarian work. I’ve got to be famous to do that. So I studied acting when I went home.
Was it a culture shock when you moved here?
No, I’d been here before, and it was then. When I was in high school I went to South Dakota as an exchange student for one year. I had wanted to go abroad so much. I loved it. I learned English there. There were only 2000 people in the town and half of them were Native American. There were no Asians. I had to speak English all the time. I’m still learning.
Do you get to go back to Japan? Did you film anything for Heroes Reborn there?
They shot some backgrounds there but I didn’t go. I go back like once a year.
What do you miss about it?
Of course I miss my family and friends, and the night culture. Stores are open 24 hours, and restaurants and bars. But there are Japanese stores on Sawtelle in West L.A. where I shop all the time, karaoke places too.
Are guys in Japan more stylish than the men here?
A lot of men in Japan are really stylish, but in America most guys dress for comfort, in T-shirts, but I like that. I do that too, I like to be comfortable. I don’t wear makeup when I don’t have to.
What’s on your to-do list for the future?
I want to do action films, dramas that tell a true story. I love kids and want to have three kids someday, but no rush. I’ve never been to South America and Europe. It would be great to go.
Photo: Christos Kalohoridis/NBC