Premiering on Max February 8th is the second season of ‘Tokyo Vice,’ which is executive produced by J.T. Rogers, Alan Poul (‘The Back-up Plan‘) and Michael Mann (‘Ferrari’) and stars Ansel Elgort (‘Baby Driver’) and Ken Watanabe (‘Batman Begins’).
Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with Rachel Keller, who plays Samantha Porter, and Show Kasamatsu, who plays Sato, about their work on ‘Tokyo Vice’ season 2. The two actors discussed the new season, their characters and their relationship together, working with Ansel Elgort, working with Michael Mann on the pilot, and what the experience of making the series has meant to them.
You can read the full interview below or click on the video player above to watch the interviews.
Note: Show Kasamatsu’s interview was conducted with the assistance of a translator.
Moviefone: To begin with, Rachel, can you talk about where season one left off for Samantha and where we’ll find her in season 2?
Rachel Keller: Season one ended, and she is looking for Polina. With season two beginning, she finds that out. It picks up (right after season one). At the end of season one, Sam has just about secured the loan to open her own hostess club, and she’s lost her friend, and then season two picks up and she has her club, she’s running her club, and finds out about Polina. So, that’s how you start the first part of the season.
MF: Running her own club is really Samantha’s dream and she’ll do anything to make that come true. Can you talk about that?
RK: When I met hostesses and had the opportunity to speak to them and research, and it’s such an interesting opportunity for young women, all over the world, Russia, Thailand, America, England, to come to Japan and earn money. Maybe they’re in student debt or don’t have any way to become financially independent on their own. So, for Samantha to move from having saved so much money and being so frugal and taking care of herself and the people around her, to be able to open her own club, to have that autonomy, it’s massive. But the problem is that she strikes a deal with the devil, and she isn’t really the owner of the club, the Yakuza take that financial responsibility, which is really part of the tension of her owning the club, but not really owning the club.
MF: Can you talk more about Samantha’s uneasy alliance with the Yakuza?
RK: It’s unfortunate, I suppose, that the money was lost because she was trying to save her friend, and that was quite dramatic. Then it’s like she has her blinders on. She’s going to get the club and it doesn’t matter how she’s going to get the club in the beginning, she feels like it’s going to happen, and so she gets the money from the Yakuza. I don’t think she’s unaware of what that comes with. I think she understands that you are in their control, but I think Samantha, coming from a Mormon childhood, isn’t unfamiliar with control. As an adult it’s like, I don’t know, maybe there’s a sense of “I’m going to figure this out, I can find my way through this,” because she’s so focused on getting it started. So, it’s not really until words become actions that it starts to feel dangerous to her.
MF: Show, can you talk about what happened to Sato at the end of the first season and where season 2 picks up for your character?
Show Kasamatsu: So, what happened to Sato in season one is he got stabbed. But what’s his fate? You must watch the entire second season to learn his fate. So please look forward to it.
MF: Can you talk about Sato’s role in the Yakuza, his loyalty to his Oyabun, and will that be tested in season two?
SK: So, Sato being in the Yakuza world, he’s not a leader of the world yet. He’s just a soldier in the world and he struggled with what he had to go through and being involved with some crimes that he didn’t want to be involved with. That’s showing the unstableness of what Sato is going through and he’s a fighter. This is a fight for Sato. The whole storyline is that he must fight for it.
MF: Can you talk about Sato’s friendship with Samantha and working with Rachel on that relationship?
SK: Rachel is nice and sweet, and I respect her the most. Watching her playing Samantha, she is a loyal to what Samantha’s going through and Rachel is acting on it perfectly. That made Sato want to help her more. So that’s exactly what I was feeling because my English ability, it’s not that great and Rachel Keller’s Japanese is not that great. So, we shared the pain of what we were going through by acting as Sato and Samantha. So that’s what Sato and Samantha is going through, they have the same pain. They share that weakness, and those feelings are not just a connection they have. It’s like a deep inside connection that they cannot get cut off.
MF: Rachel, how would you describe Sato and Samantha’s relationship?
RK: So, you meet someone, you’re attracted to someone, and then something beautiful happens that is rare, which is an innate, inherent trust. Because for a lot of people in relationships, it’s something that’s earned over time, and you cultivate a trust and respect for each other. But sometimes you meet someone, and you just trust them immediately and respect them, and that’s what I love most about that relationship is that there’s an inherent trust. So, they aren’t romantically together by the end of the first season, but we get to see them, the complexities of being attracted to each other, and trusting each other, needing each other, not needing each other, all the struggle and tension between two people who really care about each other without thought. It’s just one of those things that just is, between them. Obviously if Sato moved to Yokohama, they might not see each other again, but they are pushed together constantly because they’re linked through the club and the Yakuza.
MF: Rachel, can you also talk about Samantha’s friendship with Jake, and do you think they gravitate towards each other because they are both Americans living in Japan?
RK: I do think that is something to do with it. When you’re foreigners in a country, it’s a kind of familiarity that feels nice. It could also be a similar kind of respect, but it’s something that is a bit more tenuous, like it could be taken away or it could come away at any second. But I think part of it is just the dynamic of their work. She works in a hostess club and is directly related to people who he wants to write about. He is directly related to the people that she needs information about to get ahead with what she’s doing, so it’s a mutually beneficial, complicated kind of relationship. You know what I love? In the first season when they accidentally take too many drugs and they’re trying to find information about where Polina is, they make out in the alleyway. I thought that was so wonderful because they’re living in Japan, working in Japan, and people can be attracted to each other, make out and then go back to be friends and it’s not a thing. I really love that we didn’t address that at all this season because it’s like, can that just be a part of the story that’s true about people who want to kiss and keep moving forward? I think it adds just to the fun, but it doesn’t add to the relationship necessarily.
MF: Show, Sato has been building an unlikely friendship with Jake as well, can you talk about that and working with Ansel Elgort?
SK: As for Ansel Elgort as an actor, I give him total respect. Ansel inspired me so much every time on set and what Ansel does on set, every take, it’s different. He ignites all that sparkle on set every single take. So, my responsibility is to receive it and give it back to him. So, I was focusing on that and at the same time I was enjoying every second being on set with Ansel. So, when I get the schedule for next day, I was looking for “Oh, Rachel’s coming tomorrow, or Ansel’s coming tomorrow.” So, it was a long-time filming, like eight months or so, but as an actor that’s something I looked for each day.
MF: Rachel, what has it been like for you working on this series, shooting in Japan and learning the language?
RK: I am humbled, I’m honored, and I feel fortunate. I think it really is a special one-of-a-kind thing, to be one of two Americans in a primarily Japanese show with an extraordinary Japanese crew. The talent, the work ethic and ideas, it was just magnificent. I feel lucky and fortunate. Learning Japanese is such a gift. It is such a beautiful language built inside of culture and respect. I feel like you can’t really learn any language without really understanding some of the culture around it. But there’s some phrases in Japanese that just don’t translate to English, they don’t exist in our language. So, you think, why does that exist here? How does that serve the society and the culture around us? It’s just magic.
MF: Show, what has it been like for you working on an American series where you are able to speak your own language?
SK: First, I am humble and honored to be in this U.S. project in Japan. Since ‘Tokyo Vice’ was my first time in an international project and I got to speak Japanese and English, that’s what whole package was. I don’t know how to appreciate the opportunity to play this character on ‘Tokyo Vice.’ I felt happy about getting the role through an audition on this U.S. based project and that made me think that I want to be involved more in international films, reaching the fans in the world and a wider audience. So, this one was a great first step.
MF: Finally, Rachel what was it like for you working with director Michael Mann on the pilot for the series?
RK: Michael is a true director, meaning he is focused and that you want to focus, because he’s so focused. He’s spacious, meaning he has a lot of trust in you, and he makes time for you, which is difficult, because there’s not a lot of time in television, but he makes time. I think, at the end of it, I’m going to be grateful to have spent some time with him because he doesn’t let up. It’s a kind of fever and it’s inevitable that you catch that fever. What’s coming to mind is more that he would just go again, and again and again, and it got you to a state of relaxation, I think. I think performing is so absurd, which is part of the fun. You’re playing and you’re imagining so much and living inside of something, which is so fun, but I think sometimes you can lose a grasp of relaxation and being just grounded. So, I was just so impressed by how, in such a simple way, he was able to take it all down and relax it all, quiet everything, and focus in. It just felt like the world is good, like this is what it should be. It was profound.
What is the plot of ‘Tokyo Vice’?
In 1999, American journalist Jake Adelstein (Ansel Elgort) has relocated to Tokyo and must pass a written exam in Japanese to have the chance to join the staff of a major Japanese newspaper. He succeeds in becoming their first foreign-born journalist and starts at the very bottom. Taken under the wing of a veteran detective (Ken Watanabe) in the vice squad, he starts to explore the dark and dangerous world of the Japanese yakuza whilst living under the city’s official line that “murder does not happen in Tokyo”.
What is the Plot of ‘Tokyo Vice’ Season 2?
Season two takes us deeper into the city’s criminal underworld as Adelstein comes to realize that his life, and the lives of those close to him, are in terrible danger.
Who is in the Cast of ‘Tokyo Vice’ Season 2?
- Ansel Elgort as Jake Adelstein
- Ken Watanabe as Hiroto Katagiri
- Rachel Keller as Samantha Porter
- Show Kasamatsu as Sato
- Shun Sugata as Hitoshi Ishida
- Rinko Kikuchi as Emi Maruyama
Other Michael Mann Movies: