Win Morisaki is not a household name, certainly not to American audiences, but he’s ready to be. As the lead singer of the J-Pop group, PrizmaX, Morisaki is no stranger to the spotlight. He’s done music, movies, and TV. Now, the 27-year-old actor and singer will make his international debut in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One as Toshiro Yoshiaki, aka Daito, a gamer in the OASIS and part of the High Five.
The Nerds of Color sat down with the actor to chat about being part of a Spielberg film, being part of Generation Z, and how it feels to represent his identity on the big screen.
Please note, Morisaki is still learning English and had to use a translator at times during the meeting and those answers were used during the interview.
NOC: Hi Win. It’s lovely to meet you. Let’s start. How did it feel being cast in your first international film — especially it being a Steven Spielberg film?
Win Morisaki: I feel very, very happy, but very exciting stuff. [Being in a] Hollywood movie is a part of my dream. Dreams come true. I can’t believe it.
Because it was a complete generational thing and you were born in the ’90s, did you do a lot of research to prepare for this role?
At first, Daito is a samurai and he always acts like a warrior in the OASIS. First, I learn[ed] about Japanese traditional sword fighting — how to use the sword. Then, I watched films to learn [the ways of the] samurai. I learned about how they walked and talked and how they looked. For the ’80s, I was born in the ’90s, but I lived with my grandmother. I grew up with ’80s music — Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Madonna. Every morning, she played the music. Then, I read the book. There was a lot of [references to] ’80s culture. So, I searched on the web and there were lots of things. Then, I watched on YouTube how to play the games — arcade games. I did it all on the website.
Daito is a great character and he really reflected his Japanese culture. How did your background help create this character?
I live in Japan so I know about the Japanese culture. When I was shooting, I learned how to bow like a samurai. So, that worked for me. I think naturally I learned a lot of Japanese culture by living in it and being immersed in it every day.
With Spielberg, there were so many references and Easter eggs in the film. Was there ever a moment where you were confused because you didn’t recognize it?
Gundam. I know about Gundam, but I didn’t know about it deeply. I had to learn about Gundam. I control the Gundam so I need to know about that.
Since this is your first international film, having so many Japanese and Burmese films previously, how do you feel like this was different compared to your previous work?
Budget [laugh]. Very simple. They took four months for shooting video. In Japan and Burma, we shoot for 10 days or 15 days. In Hollywood, they have very big sets and lots of points. I was surprised about craft services. I was so surprised. In Japan, we also have craft services and they have hot water and coffee and snacks but Hollywood, they had a big car with snacks. I could get everything. I was so surprised about that.
There is one thing I’d like to touch up on. In American films, there isn’t a lot of diversity or inclusion, but in this film, we have two Asians kicking butt. How does it feel to be part of that revolution of seeing more Asians on the big screen internationally?
I hope that it will let people dream a little bit because I watched a lot of movies and I’m a big fan too. It’s very rare to see a lot of Asian representation especially kicking a lot of butt. I’m from Burma, and even in Japan, I think it’s safe to say you rarely get to see that much of a spotlight shine on our community, so I’m really proud and I hope people can dream.
You, Phillip Zhao, who plays Sho, and Tye Sheridan, who plays Wade, are part of Generation Z. How do you feel representing this generation in a film that showcases all the different generations?
I am really excited for people of our generation to see this movie because I think when you look at content from the ’80s, it just looks very old. I watch movies from the ’80s and it just doesn’t feel very cool but through the lens and the way it’s projected in this movie. I think it will make it feel really cool and the generation watching it now will be able to feel what the people in the ’80s felt but in a modern generation because it’s been adapted for our age.
Since this film showcases a lot of franchises, is there a certain franchise that you’d like to be a part of?
Disney! I want OG Disney! Original Disney stuff!
Ready Player One opens in theaters on March 29.