The Off-Off-Broadway Nicu’s Spoon Company, in association with Identity Theater Company, is presenting a production of Shakespeare’s Richard III designed to make audiences rethink attitudes toward differently abled actors.
Apparently, Die Hard action-star Bruce Willis, will be making his Broadway debut in the stage adaptation of Stephen King’s Misery. The best-selling 1987 novel was already adapted for the screen with Kathy Bates and Jame Caan, so I’m wondering how they will adapt it, yet again, for the stage. Actress, Elizabeth Marvel (House of Cards) will step into the role of Annie Wilkes, which was originally portrayed by Bates and earned her an Academy Award. Personally,I think it would be interesting if Kathy Bates were given the chance to play her famed character onstage. I honestly think that even after twenty-five years, Bates could pull it off. Who knows? It’s still early in the process, so there might be a chance for her to win a Tony for the same role in which she won an Oscar. But, I’m interested to see what Marvel does with the role. The characters of Paul Sheldon and Annie Wilkes have become so iconic within the horror/thriller genre that I think an audience may have a tough time seeing anyone else but James Caan and Kathy Bates in those roles. The good news is, that many film-goers may not be aware of, that Willis has Off-Broadway stage experience. It’ll be very interesting to see him “back on the boards” after nearly thirty years. However, I don’t want to be too quick to assume its fate yet. We’ll just have to wait and see until the curtain goes up in the fall.
What happens when you’re majoring in computer science at the University of Texas in Austin and decide to change to theater after successfully auditioning for a student film, subsequently finding your passion in life? If you’re Akie Kotabe, it pays off. With roles spanning across film, television, and theater, Kotabe is currently co-starring with Oscar-nominee Salma Hayek (Frida) in the action/thriller Everly, coming to theaters Friday, February 27th. So, what’s it like to act alongside Salma Hayek? Well, apparently it’s pretty incredible. Playing a character known simply as Dead Man, many of the characters in the film, directed by Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2: Dead End) are referred to using descriptive monikers. Kotabe has a supporting role as a man who has become the target, along with Hayek’s Everly, of assassins and is left for dead. Trapped in an apartment, the characters are faced with dealing with their existence and survival, “Think Die Hard in a single room” Akie told me.
Based in both London and Los Angeles, Akie fell in love with acting in college when he auditioned for a student film on a whim and got the part. He says that he didn’t know anything about acting before that, but has since studied both at university and with various well-known acting teachers in the industry. This non-traditional trajectory into acting has proven successful for the Michigan-born, Texas-bred actor. He’s had guest spots on Mad Men, CSI: Miami, and Without a Trace. Kotabe also puts his bilingual abilities to the test where his roles may require him to have a command of the Japanese language and accent
However, he proves his versatility with quite an impressive filmography. Securing his first AFTRA gig (when SAG & AFTRA were separate unions) while still in Austin for the Jamie Kennedy Experiment, he says he’s had some interesting experiences. He got the aforementioned AFTRA show even after he accidentally bashed his face into a wall during the audition. Woops. We’ve all had weird auditions as actors, sometimes it’s the odd ones that pay off the most.
The passion that Kotabe has for acting is apparent when talking to him. As a fellow actor, we talked about our love for the craft, and the fact that being able to entertain people is one of the best things to be doing in life. Having gotten the acting bug in college, lived and worked in Japan, Los Angeles, and his current city of London, Akie says he’s enjoyed something different from every place he’s lived. He’s also learned from those places as well. From doing theater in Japan (both in English and Japanese) to film and television in Los Angeles and London, he tries to gain as much knowledge and wisdom as possible from the people he is surrounded by in the business. “You can learn a lot through the work” he stated, “It’s what gets me up in the morning.”
What was his favorite part of filming Everly? Well, everything. For Kotabe it was being part of a team and contributing to the bigger picture that was most exciting to him while filming in Belgrade, Serbia. I think we can agree that the best part of being an actor is the ability to be storytellers. I am fortunate enough to have the chance to tell Akie Kotabe’s.
Don’t forget to catch Everly in theaters Friday, February 27th.
Thank You Akie for being such a friendly and open fellow performer. It was such a pleasure to learn your story.