Captain Perfect

Captain Perfect

Izumi Hasegawa takes a glance at the softer side of the Marvel hero ahead of the release of his latest film

In your latest film, Gifted, you play an uncle who has to parent his seven-year-old niece, who happens to be a mathematical prodigy. There is an old Hollywood adage that goes, ‘Don’t do scenes with dogs and kids.’ How do you feel about that?
That’s so funny. I think what they are saying is, ‘Don’t try to direct animals or children’. Luckily, that wasn’t my responsibility with this film. We had a lot of time to rehearse. Marc Webb is a wonderful director, and Mckenna Grace brought such maturity to the role, which makes me doubt whether that old adage should apply.

What would you say that you learnt from working with Mckenna Grace?
She taught me to have fun; that making movies is fun. She would come to set every day full of life, bouncing off the walls.

What was it like working with Octavia Spencer, who played Roberta, your character’s supportive landlady?
Octavia’s a real sweetie; she’s got that maternal instinct. She’s just a love.

How do you feel about taking a break away from the Captain America franchise and gravitating towards a less commercial film?
These are the movies that I really love – with no disrespect to Captain America. I’ve come to love big productions too, but these are the movies that I gravitate towards. It felt like a Kramer vs. Kramer type of film. Family dynamics and complexities are something I can relate to personally; this script has a lot of heart with really fleshed-out characters. Marc was certainly the guy to navigate this ship, so it just felt like the right move.

Did you worry that your audience wouldn’t appreciate this movie compared to your action films?
I think my audience was hoping for me to make this shift. There is an eagerness to see a range in actors. It’s exciting to see how they would tackle something different and new. I wasn’t worried about the reaction I would get. If any concern existed, then I’d make it my goal to prove that I have that kind of versatility as an actor.

Starring as Captain America, you have a huge responsibility toward children and making them smile. To what extent does this obligation affect your daily life?
I could make them cry too [laughs]. You don’t want to take your role home with you too much, but there’s no denying there is a certain responsibility that comes with playing this kind of character.Visiting children’s hospitals, you can’t help but see the effect you have on kids who aren’t just fans, but are in need of something more than just an escape from their current situation. They’re in need of hope.

Do you think you will become more involved in charity work?
Definitely. I try to stay as involved as I can. There are a lot of kids who look up to the role. I try my best to respect and honour the responsibilities that come with that.

How do you balance your personal life with your professional persona?
I don’t know. It’s a tough one, because in this industry, they always say fame doesn’t make you bad, it makes you more of what you already were. So, if you already had certain flavours inside you, fame just brings them out more. Before I started acting, I would like to believe I had a pretty good head on my shoulders. You can see that being in this industry makes people change for the worse. If you have a sound moral compass prior to diving into this acting pool, you can identify when those shifts happen. I’ve had my fair share of hiccups, times where you leave a scenario thinking, ‘Woah, that wasn’t like me.’ It’s up to you to recalibrate so that you don’t continue down that road.

Are you looking forward to acting in more films such as Gifted in the future?
My next film, called Red Sea Diving Resort, is also a smaller film. The beautiful part of acting is that you’re allowed to engage in a variety of films. Most actors are mercurial by nature. If you do this one month, you’ll do something new in the next. What I love about Captain America is that it gives me a taste of the big- budget productions. In my downtime away from the franchise, I look for smaller films that will strike a different chord.

Text: Izumi Hasegawa/The Interview People; Photography: Gallo/Getty Images

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