The Wolverine’s Rila Fukushima on the “bad-ass” Yukio

Star Rila Fukushima on how Yukio’s one of the few kick-ass heroines in superhero movies

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Rila Fukushima as Yukio in The Wolverine
Rila Fukushima as Yukio in The Wolverine

The buzz has already pegged Rila Fukushima’s bodyguard/assassin Yukio as a fan-favourite character and we can confirm from viewing The Wolverine that she’s not only got cosplay potential written all over her, but some of the best moves in a film riddled with awesome ninja battles and epic bullet train brawls.

Fukushima spoke exclusively to SciFiNow about being one of the few kick-ass female characters in superhero movies, and more…

What can you tell us about your character?

My character is called Yukio, she’s [the older] Shingen’s bodyguard. She’s been in the comics before. She’s working for the powerful Yashida family, and she meets Logan outside of Japan and brings him back to Shingen [senior], after that she becomes his bodyguard. It’s an interesting relationship. I don’t want to say too much because it’s an exciting part of the film. I’ll say this: she’s his bodyguard [laughs]

How much is your Yukio like the comic-book Yukio?

She’s a lot like the original character, although she doesn’t look the same. She’s very strong and confident, she’s a badass basically.

There aren’t many strong female characters in superhero movies…

She’s very strong and powerful, but at the same time she’s got a lot of heart and Shingen [the elder] is like a father to her. She was a great character, she was a lot of fun.

Was there a lot of fight training?

Yes, we shot from July to December, and I had three weeks training before we started filming. I had experience with doing a little bit of martial arts as exercise, but nothing like this and nothing with weapons – I practised sword and bo-staff and my weapons skills for three weeks.

Was it easy going from shorter shoots like music videos to a big feature film?

It was just an amazing experience working with James Mangold and Hugh Jackman and Hiroyuki Sanada. I was testing for the role for – how long? – about a year? That’s a long process, so when I got the part I was like “Oh! Really!? Did I?! Am I going to Australia!?”

Yukio takes on Hiroyuki Sanada's Shingen Yashida
Yukio takes on Hiroyuki Sanada’s Shingen Yashida

Was it an interesting atmosphere with such an international cast and crew?

We actually shot in Tokyo for two weeks, and we were shooting Australia but half the crew are from LA and the other half were Australian. It was great, so many people talking about their own culture. I’d never been to Australia before I shot The Wolverine, and Australian people were great, and then when we were shooting up here – that was great, because I live in Japan [laughs].

Would you like to do more big movies?

I’m very open, Japanese is my first language so I definitely want to try acting in Japanese, but if I get a chance to do anymore Hollywood or Western films, I’d definitely want to try again. It’d be fun. And I want to go back to the film set – it was constantly different, different sets, different people, you’d walk in on different filming and spend a lot of time with the crew, with the people, with the cast.

James Mangold described Yukio as being more like a Manga character, do you see her like that?

In a way, even though she comes from the comic, James Mangold wanted her to look different. Maybe I do see her in that way – she has colourful hair, and maybe that’s something more common in Japanese comics!

The Wolverine is released in UK cinemas on 25 July 2013. You can buy X-Men: The Ultimate Collection on Blu-ray for £32.68 at Amazon.co.uk.

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