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Q+A Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa


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With more than 50 films and TV series to his credit, Hawai'i-based actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa now stars as Capt. Terry Harada in the NBC cop-fest, Hawai'i.

Q: How long have you lived in Hawai'i?

A: I bought a home just after Hurricane 'Iniki hit Kaua'i in 1991. I live there with my wife, Sally, my son Calen, 16, and daughter, Brynne, 13.

With more than 50 films and TV series to his credit, Hawai‘i-based actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa now stars as Capt. Terry Harada in the NBC cop-fest, Hawai‘i. Photo: Guy A. Sibilla

Q: What are your Hawai'i roots?

A: My father was born on Moloka'i. He met my mother in the service when he was stationed in Japan. I was born in Tokyo, but my brother Greg was born here [in Honolulu]. I was named after Cary Grant and my brother was named after Gregory Peck. My mother was a real Hollywood movie fan.

Q: Is there something you can point to in your upbringing that helped make you successful as an actor?

A: My mother was an actress in Japan and one of the most important things I got from her was her rebelliousness. The key to acting is you have to be slightly rebellious; you have to move against the norm, especially being from an Asian culture where you are raised not to make a spectacle of yourself.

Q: Is there a location experience for a movie that leaps to mind as exceptional?

A: China. Being on location with Bernardo Bertolucci at the Forbidden Palace in Beijing shooting The Last Emperor was a powerful experience for me. There was so much energy there. I really connected with that culture.

Q: Are you having fun with your role in the television show Hawai'i?

A: It has been so great to work here in Hawai'i and play the part of a local police captain. The writers have been pretty liberal in letting me speak pidgin to bring a more local sound to the dialogue. I even put a UH football helmet on my desk for one of the office scenes.

Q: What do you think is the difference that allows you to excel in your craft as an actor?

A: Japanese come from a warrior culture and warriors come from a spiritual place. For instance, it wasn't enough for the samurai simply to fight. They also had to write haiku poetry. So when I am in a scene I rely on my martial arts training to keep the energy of the scene in balance. I always find myself moving in counter-balance to the other actors.

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Honolulu Magazine November 2018
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