Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Article excerpt

Born in Tokyo five years after the end of World War II, actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa spent his youth as a U.S. Army brat. He is best known as Shang Tsung in the "Mortal Kombat" film. He will be a regular in the new original Amazon series, "The Man In the High Castle," which is set in an alternate world where the Nazis and Japan have won World War II. It will be available Nov. 20.

Being Japanese, did you feel uncomfortable coming to the United States just after World War II?

I did, absolutely. It was a chapter out of "Stranger in a Strange Land." I went from a very loving family in Tokyo to North Carolina. At 6 years old, I was not part of what was going on. I was neither black nor white. There were strange vibes coming my way, and I had to decide at 6: Was I going to roll over and die? Was I going to stand up and fight? The solution I came up with was that the only way I could survive in the South was not to compete but move ahead. I needed to lead, not follow or fit in.

How does a 6-year-old lead?

I moved to the front seat of the class, and I just totally honed in on the teacher. I found that a lot of kids were not raising their hands when the teacher would ask a question. So I wanted to be the first to raise my hand, and typically I didn't have the answers.

Then I started getting into entertainment. I would volunteer for plays or emcee the Christmas program. No one else wanted to, so I beat them where they were apprehensive.

When did you become proficient at martial arts?

We have taken a very narrow perspective of martial arts. You are looking at a physical form and also a form of resolving conflict. One way is physical. The other is to understand the core of the energy and find another solution for that. Aikido style is where you turn their energy against them. I started martial arts at 6. [laughs] When I landed in America, I had to find a way of conflict resolution without fighting.

You had a lot of jobs before you made it in Hollywood. Which jobs lasted the longest?

I did photojournalism. I worked as an import-export salesman. I drove a pizza supplies truck in Southern California for the mob, not knowing it was the mob at the time. …

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