Behind the scenes on Miyazaki’s latest animated film
‘The Wind Rises’ is an animated historical drama film written and directed by the acclaimed Hayao Miyazaki, who previously gave us classics like ‘My Neighbor Totoro’, ‘Ponyo’ and ‘Spirited Away’. His latest movie, aimed at a more mature audience boasts an A-List voice-cast of house-hold names including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Martin Short, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci to name but a few. In the below interview the star of ‘The Office’ John Krasinski (who voices Honko) walks us through his thoughts on the film.
On taking on the role
I wanted to be a part of this film for many, many reasons. One of which is, as an actor, to play a part like this is really fun. But really, the main reason I think most of us would be a part of a movie like this, is that he [Miyazaki] is just the highest level of the definition of artist. I think that animation now is such an incredible medium, there’s so much going on, but there is no one doing animation quite like him. It’s more like a moving Renoir painting or something. So to me, he’s been so inspiring and his films have been so inspiring, that it’s one of those things that as soon as they called me about this, before they had even finished with the title of the movie, I was like: “Yes!”
On the story of The Wind Rises
The Wind Rises is about a lot of things, but mostly it’s about a character named Jiro. I play Honjo, who is his good friend, and they are both engineers who design aircraft. But from a young age there was this obsession/connection to flight and aircraft that Jiro had. Then when he meets Honjo later in his life, they both have this same love but there is something very, very special about Jiro’s connection to aircraft. That is basically the story that’s sort of pulling you through the main meat of the movie, but on the side of it is all this stuff that’s happening in Japan.
On Airplane design
I think at the time, flight was such an incredibly enigmatic thing. People had just discovered it, people were finding new things happening in the world of plane design as it happened, like flushed rivets and things like that, that were really blowing people’s minds. The idea that passengers could be taken on airplanes was a huge deal back then. It was something that would never have been imagined. They had passages in the wings, you could actually walk down the hallways in the wings and sit on these sort of observation decks as it flew. It was more of an exciting ride than it was anything practical. So, I think back then, it’s so easy to see why people like Honjo and Jiro would be so enamored with the idea of designing planes.
On Joseph Gordon-Levitt voicing Jiro
I think Joe is one of the best actors working, period. There are many reasons why, but one is that he is pretty fearless and does things on his own terms and in the way he wants to do them. Even if you didn’t know that, watching the movie it comes off the screen. I think that his confidence in what he does and his willingness to try new things and do new things – he has never allowed any movie or group of people to push him to do a certain character and repeat that character, he is always trying to reinvent himself – that sort of courage is really something that is very reminiscent of the 70s actors and movies. That sort of flag flying is very rarely done anymore. So I think, he is one of our greats that is keeping that sort of flag alive.
On his connection with Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci
This is a family affair. It’s like the von Trapp family doing a movie together. I did this movie with my wife, which was awesome. I was there when she was offered the part – I was offered the part first – and that was really exciting and it’s fun to do anything together. It’s definitely the first thing we have done together, so that’s really interesting. Although, it still leaves room for a live action thing that we actually act with each other. But on top of that, Stanley Tucci was in the movie, he is now my new brother-in-law, which is still totally bizarre and hard to process because I am a fan of his in every single way.
On Miyazaki’s films as an art form
Miyazaki’s animation is more like a moving painting, there is something very visceral and emotional that you see in his work versus other work. I think there are many, many reasons for that but one of the reasons is that I think you do see the human work that went into it. So there are tiny flaws there, it feels a lot more raw in a way that you can connect to. It’s actually an aesthetic that I think makes you feel a very specific way that you wouldn’t feel in other animations. I think that sometimes animation is just a really high-definition photo that makes you feel one way in comparison to a shot on a 1950 photo does. There is an emotional connection that you have to an image, which I think is amazing.
On how Miyazaki allows his audience to relate to The Wind Rises
All of Miyazaki’s movies have this incredible ability to show you great hope with a huge layer of reality wrapped around it. It’s not this fairy tale that is unattainable, he has this level of reality that is not always necessarily a happy moment but the characters will always experience things in a real way that will allow the audience to feel like they are going through something very similar. So to me, it’s such a great thing to do because it allows your audience to see themselves in the movie and its also makes it much more emotional.