Deadpool 2 premieres this week and it has already been praised for its rated-R comedy and off-the-wall antics from actor and executive producer Ryan Reynolds. Another thing the film is getting praise for is the appearance of a queer couple in Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and her girlfriend, Yukio, played by Japanese-Australian actress, Shioli Kutsuna.
The 25-year-old actress has starred in many Japanese films and television shows and made her first international debut in last year’s The Outsider. Now, Kutsuna is playing her most electrifying role yet — X-Men recuit, Yukio.
We got to chat with Kutsuna on the phone during her press tour, two days after the premiere. She told us a little bit more about her character and what it means to play, not only an Asian woman, but a queer Asian woman on the big screen.
NOC: Congrats on the film! I got to see it and your character is adorable and fierce at the same time. How does it feel to be part of this mega franchise as a character and part of the X-Men?
Shioli: It’s pretty awesome. I got the part from an audition but I went through 3 or 4 auditions. So, I was pretty nervous towards the end because I knew I was close. I didn’t get it yet. It was amazing to finally get the part. This whole thing has been a great experience. I’m still trying to concentrate and everything. I had the premiere two days ago. It’s just been an amazing experience as well.
I did notice that the character is named Yukio, like in the Wolverine films, but has electrical powers as a character named Surge. Did the writers tell you who this character is based on?
This Yukio has been in the Wolverine film. They brought back this character. She’s different from the other film that they introduced this character in. So, I did know the name of the character and I saw the comics. I did get an idea, but they really wanted to build a different character for this Deadpool 2 film. She had different weapons and it was just a process of building a new character. It was really fun.
How much research did you do when you were auditioning or cast for the role? Were you a Marvel fan beforehand?
I saw the Wolverine film. I guess the fans from the comic book will be surprised because she’s different from the film that she was first introduced in and the comic books. I did do some research but I didn’t focus on making it concisely as they introduced in the comic. To be honest, I really didn’t know she had that electrical power. I saw the trailer and I was really surprised. I didn’t know. That was a nice surprise. I was really surprised and she looked really badass. She looked really great. Yeah, that was really surprising.
The film is getting high praise for having its first queer relationship in a superhero film with Yukio and Negasonic. Deadpool even comments how cute of a couple the characters are. How does it feel to be part of this first ever moment?
I am so grateful to be part of this important movement and challenge for a film like this. It is necessary because you know how the world is right now. Equality and representation. I am so happy I get to be part of this.
The film is getting some praise for the inclusion of characters of different race and sizes. How important was it for you to represent this character — not only an Asian woman, but also a queer Asian woman?
It’s great. Everyone is talking about Asian representation as well. I’m really glad to be part of it. I can’t really explain it. I’m very neutral of it. I’m still learning. It’s really great to be part of it.
Since this is your first international superhero film, having so many Japanese films previously, how do you feel like this was different compared to your previous work?
The process of filming and acting is the same in any role. But, getting prepared, meeting people, and how the daily routine of shooting in America is totally different. It was a new learning process for me. I was a little worried if I’d be able to fit in and get used to how things are here, but everyone was so welcoming, especially Ryan. I had no trouble with that. I am really grateful for that. It’s really different. It’s great learning new things.
Speaking of Ryan, the cast and crew of Deadpool seemed like a great working atmosphere. How was it working with Ryan Reynolds and the rest of the amazing cast?
Well, obviously, he’s not just the lead actor in the film. He’s producer and the writer. I did feel like he was really trying to create this really comfortable atmosphere for all of us. I felt very at home from the first day, which is not what you can always experience. That was amazing. Everyone is so friendly and so nice to work with. I can’t think of any other improvement to make in terms with the relationship with the cast. It’s been real great.
What was your favorite part in making this film?
Making the character, I guess. It’s a superhero movie. It’s not like you get to have that cool pink hair for every single project. I had no idea I would be having pink hair. All these wigs behind in the makeup trailer. I remember asking the hair stylist ‘who gets to wear that pink hair’ and she said it was me. That was very exciting.
I noticed the hair color/style changed within the scenes. Do you feel like that was part of the character’s superhero — electricity and change her elements in her hair and look.
I never thought of it that way. Maybe. We didn’t have the action scene. They decided to do that at the last minute. It was only that all pink hook. When I returned to shoot the action sequences, they decided to refresh the look and Brianna had a new hairstyle and makeup for the hero look. They really wanted to pump up that strong tone. Yeah, that might be from the superpowers, but I’m not sure.
So, what I loved about your character is her costume. It was not the standard X-Men uniform. This outfit seemed to reflect the character’s background and culture. Did you guys have a conversation about the outfit?
We tried on so many different outfits. So many different styles as well. They all had the same theme. They had that Harajuku style that people would recognize and that really cultural style was something we aimed for. That colorful costume to bring that essence into our look.
Is there anything you hope to see in the future for Yukio, since there are talks for X-Force to be made?
I would like to see her talk more. I really like that joke we had with Wade and Yukio. I would just like to see her character more. Explore that more. It would be great to see her fighting and really show her strength in that aspect. That’d be great.
Deadpool really adores Yukio in the film and they seemed to have a cute friendship going on. Did they give you any insight of the character beyond what was given?
Just trying and having rehearsals. He [Reynolds] and the producers liked it as well. So, just keeping her really kind of opposite from Negasonic Teenage Warhead. That contrast is what makes them look really cute together.
I’m really glad we got to see not only the character’s cute side, but also the badass fighting side too. She wasn’t just reduced to being a cute side character. Instead, they also showed her fighting and kicking ass.
Yeah, we didn’t really have that fighting sequence ready. We weren’t supposed to have that for this film. I was really fortunate they made that decision and I was able to show that part in this film. Hopefully, we get to see her more in the sequels.
Deadpool 2 premieres this Friday.