|JIM: You know as we sit here on the U.S.S. Stennis Aircraft carrier in Pearl Harbor with the Arizona Memorial in back of us, it has to be very inspiring to be part of a film like this, would you agree?
CARY: It is. It really drives home the reason why this film was made. Personally, it's a great honor not only to be part of the film, but to feel a certain culmination. To sort of [be] part of my life's journey. My father was here in Honolulu. Pearl Harbor was the incident that caused him to…volunteer to be in the U.S. Army for twenty years so I'm an Army brat. I was born in Tokyo. My mother was in Tokyo when Doolittle raided Tokyo, and for the duration of the war.
So this was a very, very personal moment for me. I've not been able to come in fact to the U.S.S. Arizona because of that. Being raised in the U.S. military, of course Pearl Harbor Day was not my favorite holiday. I grew up as a kid having to take the responsibility for the Japanese. You know, I didn't do it.
JIM: Did you suffer any prejudices?
CARY: Absolutely. You know, I can't fault people for prejudices. I've had prejudice in my life. It's a natural part of growing up in a multicultural country. I think one thing that we sometimes forget in America is that we're an experiment, the experiment's not over yet. We're a work in progress.
JIM: You are a resident of Hawaii. What does Pearl Harbor mean to Hawaii, to the state?
CARY: It means to be the only state probably that's ever suffered at the hands of any war. Of course at that time it was part of a territory and not a state, but certainly to have your homes bombed. To have people die in front of you and it be part of a U.S. area. It does bring back a lot of memories for these people, very seriously. We know it does for the survivors, and they've all gone home.
Well, there's plenty of survivors here. And also, this state represents the group of Japanese American soldiers, the 100th batallion, the 442, the most decorated units in the history of the U.S. Army, so it is very meaningful.
JIM: Born in Japan, you have an empathy, a feeling for the Japanese people and that country. Was this a fairly good, accurate portrayal of the invasion?
CARY: I would say that this was certainly a version of it, and in that sense, balanced. I think the only reason why I am hesitating, it is not so much from the Japanese side, is actually more [on] American material with the classified information becoming de-classified in which a book that I am reading, "A Day of Deceit," in which a retired U.S. Navy Seaman at the time is bringing up a lot of interesting facts about the attack. It's still not quite clear what happened.
JIM: It's not quite clear how much the United States really knew, and just pushing Japan to get into this battle. Did your character, Genda, orchestrate this invasion?
CARY: Genda is very representative of pilots of those days. If ever there was a period in Japanese history where tradition and discipline was not present, it was in the pilot corps of the Navy. As was true in the U.S. Army air corps, and as was true for pilots in other parts of the world. Very much cowboys.
You think about that day when you still have no TV. And, you're in the machine where you can be in the sky and nobody can tell you what to do. It took a certain kind of personality to do that, and Genda was one of those gentleman. He was very independent thinking, along with Yamamoto. Probably the only time in Japanese history where the Lieutenant Commander worked directly with an Admiral.
JIM: Did he not invent the wooden frame on the torpedo because the water wasn't deep enough, it was too shallow?
CARY: Yes, pretty clearly. They knew that there were no torpedo nets. Of course, this is not a harbor for ships. It had to be blown up. This was a coral reef. So it provided some advantages for the Japanese in the attack.
JIM: In closing, do you have a message why the people of Japan perhaps should see this film Pearl Harbor?
CARY: I believe that for  years later, the relationship between the United States and Japan, [is] still not very much farther along. With Japan being the number one ally in Asia, we still know very little about the Japanese people, the Japanese nation. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a bridge in which we can recognize that fact, and move much closer to what are truly are our allies.
JIM: Thank you so much.
CARY: Thank you.
|ONTHE RED CARPET AT THE WORLD PREMIERE OF "PEARL HARBOR"
WITH JIM FERGUSON AND CARY-HIROYUKI TAGAWA
Jim: Cary, good to see you. What does this night mean to you?
CARY: If I get through this night without crying, I'll be very happy. It's just so emotional. For my fathers, for the generation, for 442, for Hawaii, it's very important.
JIM: This interview, what I am doing with you right now is going to be on AsianConnections.com and for "Coming Soon TV" in Tokyo.
CARY: For Asians, its important that we get out, and get out of our own stereotype of not speaking up and not getting out in front. Sometimes, even between Asians, we hold back. Time to pull that plug!
JIM: I agree. I'm not Asian, but you know who I represent!
CARY: Yeah! Thank you very much.
|Jim Ferguson is StudioLA's exclusive Hollywood celebrity interviewer. Mr. Ferguson is a director of the Broadcast Film Critics Society of America and one of the nation's top broadcast journalists in the entertainment industry. Jim has interviewed hundreds of Hollywood celebrities.
Suzanne Joe Kai is StudioLA's editor and celebrity interviewer. Suzanne is co-founder of the hot Hollywood Web site StudioLA.com and the popular East Meets West portal, AsianConnections.com. She was the nation's first Asian American woman TV news broadcaster on-camera in mainstream media. She began her broadcasting career at 18, earning two Emmy nominations (KRON-TV NBC San Francisco) by the time she was 23. She earned an M.A. in Communication from Stanford University while reporting on more than 5,000 stories before she was 25, including the return of American POW's from the Vietnam war, the Patty Hearst kidnapping case, and the attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford.
|Photo credit: Touchstone Pictures 2002
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