After a successful legacy of Miami Vice, showrunner and creator J.T. Rogers have come together with HBO Max to present Tokyo Vice.
The latest HBO series stars Ansel Elgort and follows the tale told by journalist Jake Adelstein in his memoir. Adelstein was the first American journalist to cover the Tokyo crime chain back in the 1990s.
Popular for his characters like Caleb in the Divergent series, Baby in Baby Driver by Edgar Wright, and Tony in West Side Story by Speilberg, the actor now gets to play a detective in Tokyo Vice. The series will also star Ken Watanabe, Rachel Keller, Ella Rumpf, Shô Kasamatsu, and Tomohisa Yamashita.
The series' starter direction is helmed by industry veteran Michael Mann, while Rogers will serve as the showrunner on board.
Ansel Elgort and Rogers recently had a talk with Screen Rant where they explained all that went into preparing them for their roles in the series. The most notable of the series prep included the cast learning Japanese, and of course, they also shared what it was like to work under the directorial debut of Michael Mann.
Rogers also shared his motivation behind the characterJake Adelstein and how he resonates with him in his off-screen life.
The actors shared their language learning experiences when it came to Japanese and how they learned about the culture. Elgort revealed that it was the first time that he learned a language other than his mother tongue, and now that Japanese is his second language. He revealed that the experience was pretty "cool."
Having to work with Michael Mann, it was important that Elgort put in the effort because the director is known for his demanding persona and needed the best out of the actor. Hence, in contrast to the earlier phonetic approach to his lines, Elgort decided that he needed to learn as much of the language as he could.
The phonetic approach would not allow him to expand on his lines or say them with a different take as his words would be limited. Hence, he sought to learn more so that his dialogues were precise and felt genuine to the context.
Starting with his immense dedication to learning the language, the actor started taking Japanese classes and made friends with natives who knew little English so that he had maximum exposure to the language. He chose to speak only in Japanese throughout his stay in Japan and entirely enclosed himself in a bubble that facilitated his learning process.
J.T. Rogers also shared his own experience with the film and why he decided to work on Tokyo Vice. The playwright has already worked on significant works like Oslo for HBO.
Rogers shared that he and the real Jake Adelstein had known each other for a long time. The author of the memoir on which the book that later led to influencing the Tokyo Vice series is related was written by the real Jake Adelstein.
Apparently, he and Rogers had known each other since their childhood. They had first met each other when they were learning to drive in central Missouri. He revealed that he was directly involved in one of the gangster tales that inspired the memoir author to work on the Tokyo Vice.
Once, Rogers found himself in the middle of a difficult situation when some of the Japanese mafias got to threaten his loved ones of Jake to get back at him. The playwright was also involved in the situation and later realized that the situation could make a once in a lifetime kind of story.
The story had everything from the thrill and drama of a Japanese mobster tale, followed by betrayal, loyalty, and more than makes up for a good detective narration. Yet, having happened a long time ago in the 90s, there was much which could not be replicated these days in Tokyo.
Hence, it meant that the groundwork had to be perceived from a different direction, along with adding other factors that would make for genuine standing. Instead of being afraid of the challenges, the series creators decided to take on the difficulty and create a show that was never seen before.
The playwright and the actor then explained how Michael Mann shifted the tone of the show and added his own prowess to the project. Tokyo Vice is significantly different from the OG film Miami Vice, which worked on a similar theme of gangs and crime. With Mann, the project saw differences that would help the series shine as its own production.
As the director of the pilot episode, Mann was very focused on setting what the visuals of the series were going to be like for the rest of the episodes. He created standards that the show would adhere to for the days to come.
Not only did he get to create the infrastructure of Tokyo Vice but is also the chief constructor when it comes to building the world of the show as he dreamt of it. He based most of the episodes and dealt with genuine Japanese culture and made it as real as he could.
Elgort added that it can be funny at times seeing the director fret over even the most minuscule details for the series and how badly he wanted everything to be authentic. To keep everything in his check, he would keep noting things or tape-record the entire conversations on sets so he would remember everything exactly the way it was said and done.