Issey Ogata has built his career on virtuoso one-man theater shows in which he changes characters, from drunken salaryman to female fishmonger, as easily as other actors change clothes, while amusing audiences and winning critical accolades with sui generis portrayals that dig down to universal human bedrock.
The chameleon-like quality of the 65-year-old's acting has caught the attention of international filmmakers. He played the savvy video game mogul Ota in Edward Yang's "Yi Yi" (2000), the unworldly Emperor Showa in Alexandr Sokorov's "The Sun" (2005) and the relentless inquisitor Inoue in Martin Scorsese's "Silence" (2016). He has also been a favorite with Japanese directors, including the late Jun Ichikawa, who cast Ogata as the shy, lonely technical illustrator who falls for a shopaholic woman in "Tony Takitani" (2004).
Now Ogata and Kaori Momoi, another acting individualist with a long and lauded career, are co-starring as an unusual married couple in Maris Martinsons' "Magic Kimono" ("Futari no Tabiji"), which is being billed as the first Japanese-Baltic co-production. The film was shot on location in Riga and based on Latvian director Martinsons' original script.