Today we are bringing you an interview with actor Shinji Ishigaki of the martial arts-comedy short film Chopsticks!!. Chopsticks!! has been a huge success and it would be nothing without the sassy, suave antagonist, so we catch up with Shinji and talk about his film, what’s it like working as an actor and MMA.
Describe yourself in three fictional characters?
Ryu from Street Fighter, Naruto and Mowgli from Jungle Book.
What are the films that have most impacted your life?
The old school Hong Kong Jackie Chan films have been a massive influence in my life with how Jackie uses his environment as his playground. He was my childhood idol growing up and had massively inspired me to get involved in Martial Arts.
Who are the actors that inspire you?
Bryan Cranston, Jason Scott Lee, Leonardo DiCaprio have been the actors that inspired me the most.
When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
I’ve always loved acting from such a young age, but during high school on the Isle of Wight it was never part of the syllabus for us to study. Since then, getting involved with the films in London has re-sparked my passion for the craft all over again and I’m so blessed to now be creating films in the industry amongst other amazing talents.
What is your favourite part about acting?
To be able to completely lose yourself without getting arrested haha, but seriously to be able to capture emotions in a scene that can move people around you has been one of the best parts. If I can spark emotions in someone from a scene I've done, then I know I’ve done my job well.
How was your experience with the Actor’s Temple?
It was great, I learnt a lot - but I got more from the practicing the Meisner techniques with each other than the theory taught at the time. So it does depend on the teachers and which ones can help take you to that next level.
How has been your experience working as an actor in the film industry?
Amazing, I’ve met such incredible people from it and London is one of the best cities for it.
How do you think the film industry could improve?
Top business people and Salesman take up acting classes to help them with role-plays, negotiations, presentations etc. So the film industry should be considered more seriously to schools and needs to reach out to them to help everyone in real life situations. Also the film industry needs to police acting or model agencies and delete them from the industry if they’re not legitimate or professional as there's been too many cases of these agencies taking advantage of actors and models all the time.
What drew you to your role in Chopsticks!!?
I didn’t know of Aeddan and his style of work, but it was actually having some Chinese acting lines in it and decent camera’s used that made me want to be involved at the time, I had no idea Chopsticks would blow up the way it had so now I’m so glad I took the role as Fang on.
How did you prepare for your role in Chopsticks!!?
I didn’t have much preparation as I was working full time back then, but playing Fang seemed quite natural so I must have been an evil villain in my past lifetime.
What was your favourite part of working on Chopsticks!!?
Great question, there were loads of favourite parts for me, one was free styling some of the script with the others and making it our own, we all had such a good laugh doing that with the actors and with Aeddan there, the other was working out the final fight choreography with Alan the fight choreographer, we worked out the best style for the comedy fights, but most importantly getting to know everyone on Chopsticks, we’re all like a family now and it’s been the best thing that’s brought such amazing talented people together as one and certainly looking to do further projects with Team Chopsticks again.
What was your favourite scene in Chopsticks!!?
Oooo.. I’m tied with two, the first fight scene in the Buddha Bar & when Linda catches the old man out with the fortune cookie sayings! haha that was so genuine.
What was your favourite stunt in the film?
Haha that would have to be my own with Linda flipping the sword around my hands always out of my grasp.
What was the best feedback you got for your role in Chopsticks!!?
That my acting has completely changed in improvement after seeing me playing the comedic sarcastic evil Fang, and that the final fight scene of me and Linda was their favourite part of the film.
Who are your favourite martial artists?
Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Donnie Yen and Scott Adkins
How did you get started in MMA?
My younger brother got me into it and he started showing me some moves which I was fascinated by and how awesome they were, then I did kickboxing in Brighton and joined a MMA club when I was in Canada for 6 months and the passion grew stronger. At this point I always wanted to compete in MMA. Then when I came back to the U.K. I started to fight in Nottingham where I won my first match and loved it ever since!
What is your favourite part about MMA and Boxing?
How brutal and real it is and how nothing compares to it for real self defence on the streets.
What do you see as the future of MMA and Boxing?
I see it to be way more recognised now than it used to be. Lots of other martial arts are flashy and look better for cinematic fighting on screen but MMA & Boxing to me is king for unarmed combat and I believe it will be more regularly practiced. They’re now starting to incorporate it into films like Flashpoint with Donnie Yen, which received a lot of respect from MMA fighters and fans. Even Bruce Lee mentions the top two martial arts to know is Boxing and Wrestling which essentially is MMA and it was even him that showed MMA style moves in his movies.
Do you have any projects coming up, that you can tell us about?
I have a few great projects in the pipeline but it’s too early to mention at the moment, but I can say one of them will be a wrestling film of a real known character.
How has your experience been with Fighting Spirit Film Festival?
It’s been absolutely awesome, I got to meet some incredible people there and had the pleasure of seeing the other films that made it in the festival. It was such good fun and I was so honoured to be involved. I’m definitely looking forward to the next one and what other talented film makers can produce.