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Bryerly Long: ‘I’m still learning to accept the unknown’

by Elliott Samuels

Staff Writer

Name: Bryerly Long
Age: 26
Nationality: American
Occupation: Actress
Likes: Theater, film, coffee, jazz, robots
Dislikes: Last train on a Friday evening, trying to do laundry in rainy season, bills


1. What first brought you to Japan? I joined the Seinendan Theater Company after graduating from Oxford University, and they sponsored me for a working visa.

2. What’s keeping you here? A couple of film projects, theater engagements, friends and my fascination with robots.

3. Who in Japan do you most admire? Donald Keene, for his beautiful translations of Japanese literature into English, his incredibly deep understanding of the Japanese language and the respect he has earned in Japan.

4. Where do you go to escape Tokyo? One of my best days in Japan was spent swimming all day at a beach in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, where they were playing music from the 1950s and the sand was so hot that you couldn’t leave the water.

5. What’s your favorite Japanese phrase? Nandeyane (“What the …?” or “Give me a break!”). It’s all about the way you say it.

6. What’s your favorite phrase in any language? “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.” Sometimes people take themselves too seriously and, in reality, we invent our own characters. Who we are changes with time.

7. What’s the strangest request you’ve ever been asked in your line of work? To cry in Shinjuku-Sanchome, dressed up as Eve from Adam and Eve, with passers-by staring at me out of confusion (the camera was across the street) for a pachinko commercial and then tell Adam, “Hara hetta” (“I’m hungry”).

8. [Special guest question from an On Sunday reader] If you could go forward in time or back, which would you prefer? Sometimes I would like to go forward just to find out that everything is going to be OK. I guess I’m still learning to accept the unknown.

9. What song best describes your work ethic? “Dream Brother” by Jeff Buckley. I was going to say “Aint No Mountain High Enough,” but I think that answer’s been used in this column once before.

10. What superhero would you most like to be? I don’t know any superheroes. I grew up without TV and comic books.

11 If you could share a bottle of wine with anyone from history, who would it be? William Shakespeare.

12. What do you think about while standing on the train? The people I care about, work, the time.

13. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be? “An Alien Actress.”

14. Tell us a quick joke. I’m trying to remember one of my dad’s jokes but despite having heard them all way too many times, I can’t seem to remember a single one. Guess it’s time for a visit home!

15. How would you get an elephant into a refrigerator? Photoshop.

16. Name three uses of a stapler without staples. Paperweight, book divider, clutter.

17. How would you find a needle in a haystack? I wouldn’t. I’m a bit of a mendokusagariya (person who hates troublesome tasks) when it comes to certain things.

18. Who would win a fight between a lion and tiger? No idea. I don’t know that much about nature.

19. What do you want to be when you grow up? An international actress and producer working in Japanese, French, German, English, Italian and Korean.

20. Do you have any words of advice for young people? WORK, WORK, WORK!

  • phu

    Another really great, insightful… um… what is this? I’m not even sure what I’m reading. It’s nice to have fun pieces now and then, but can we really not do any better than asking random foreigners how they would get elephants into refrigerators?

    I’m sure Ms. Long is a very interesting person, but you wouldn’t know it from these questions.