Exclusive interview with Pilou Asbaek from “Ghost in the Shell”

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“Ghost in the Shell” is a fantasy/mystery movie opening March 31. The movie takes place In the near future, where Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that included the ability to hack into people’s minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepared to face a new enemy, Major discovers that she has been lied to: her life was not saved, it was stolen. On March 28 , The Circuit’s Features editor Leticia Antonini was one of four people who participated in a round table interview with cast member from the “Ghost in the Shell,” Pilou Asbaek.

As a Danish actor, how would you say the Danish film industry is different from the American film industry?

The biggest difference between the two is the size of the budget; one week’s catering in ‘Ghost in the Shell’ is worth the same amount of money as a big budget Danish production. But, story wise, it’s the exact same. It is like driving a car: once you learn how to drive, you navigate; if the performance is going too slow, you tap a little bit on the gas, you shift gears. Therefore although I face a language barrier, my job, as an actor, is the same.

You are used to working on projects that take place in a fictional reality, but were there any aspects of the future world of ‘Ghost in a Shell’ that challenged you?

I think the creators put together a very interesting scenery in the film. For me the reality portrayed is not actually that fictional, I think it is within the possible future. From my perspective, artificial intelligence has been taking a gradually greater part in our world and, although it may not be a part of our future, it could be in the next generation’s. I don’t see a big difference between doing ‘Game of Thrones’, or ‘Ghost in the Shell’, or any other of my Danish films. The work is the same, and the size of the character doesn’t matter either. It could be a supporting character or the lead and the work is almost the same, because you have to be prepared.

How did you prepare for the movie?

I was in the gym so much, I hated it. I started working out the moment I got the job, because I didn’t want to start before I even got the job, and then we went down to New Zealand two months before we were going to start shooting. The production took the entire cast to New Zealand to bond before we filmed so they could have the ‘Section 9’ spirit, to make it a real elite unit. We would do technical training, weapon training, counter-terrorist training, and we would be working out. And that would be for five hours every day. After the training, I had a lot of prosthetic tests, because I had to wear the fake eyes and try to not look idiotic; it took four hours of makeup just to get the eyes on before I had to do many more hours of shooting. Besides, I couldn’t see anything through the eyes so it was very difficult to go through the stunts. Since my peripheral vision was nonexistent I would always accidentally hit someone while trying to shoot a fight scene.

Were there any obstacles in the making of the movie?

There was a big challenge regarding the Manga. The movie is based on the written cartoon of the 80’s, and then they did the anime in the 90’s, and the fanbase really expanded, with very passionate fans. What I’ve learned from Game of Thrones, is that when people are really fanatic about something, they get jealous and possessive over it, they don’t want anyone else to touch it, which is very selfish. When you make a movie like that, you have to really take ownership of it, make it your own. It was a big challenge and there was a lot of controversy, especially since it is an American version, but I think we did a great job.

Did you know about the Anime before ‘Ghost in the Shell’ or did you only find out about it afterwards?

I was a teenager when I saw it the first time, but I had never heard about the manga behind it. But I saw the anime and I really fell in love with it.

How are you similar to your character, Batou?

He likes beer, pizza, and dogs — so do I.

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