More details on Angelina Jolies’ ‘Unbroken’ with Miyavi

In a recent interview with ‘Variety’, Angelina Jolie, director of the upcoming film ‘Unbroken‘ revealed more details about the film, due for release on the 25th of December.

Unbroken tells the story of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic Runner who became a prisoner of war during World War II when his plane went down in the Pacific. He was lost at sea for 47 days before being sent to a Japanese prison camp. In the two years he was there, he was starved and beaten – particularly by a man known as ‘The Bird’ – a Japanese officer named Mutsuhiro Watanabe, who seemed to take a particular interest in torturing Zamperini.

Jolie confesses that creating ‘Unbroken’ was a long and challenging journey. The film, based on a book, had been picked up multiple times in the past by various directors but for one reason or another, never made the screen. Jolie herself took the role of director with both hands and in searching for the perfect people to perform the roles of Zamperini and Watanabe, she confesses it was difficult. Particularly Watanabe.

The role of Zamperini was filled by British actor, Jack O’Connell (24) best known for his work in the popular British series ‘Skins’. According to Cynthia Garris – the daughter of Zamperini, O’Connell stood out for her for a multitude of reasons but during one particular scene when Zamperini was being attacked by a guard, O’Connell was the only one who actually fought back. However according to Jolie, finding someone to fill the role of Watanabe seemed impossible. Mutsuhiro Watanabe is a difficult role to fill. He was a very moody man, violent and cruel towards his prisoners, described in the book as a ‘beautifully crafted monster’. Jolie mentioned she needed to find someone whose presence was powerful but that person needed to also be in a healthy mindset in order to be able to do the things that Watanabe does. It’s a dark place to go to and it’s a tall order, not easily filled.

She mentioned that early on in the search, she’d considered finding a rock star. “There’s a confidence that comes from someone who’s a frontman,” she maintains. “It’s a very unusual thing to be able to be in front of thousands of people and have your presence affect a room.”

With the help of casting director, Yoro Narahashi, she found singer-songwriter Miyavi (33).

The singer admitted initially hesitating upon playing such a character as he feared it would reflect badly on the Japanese public. However after meeting Jolie, he was glad and confident to be part of the project.

However the role of Watanabe was not easy, according to the article Miyavi was reported as running off set to vomit as soon as Jolie shouted ‘cut’. The role was emotionally draining for the singer and it made him ‘violently ill to inflict so much anger and damage’

O’Connell also confessed to suffering quite a bit for the role as well, having lost 30 pounds and had to quickly bulk back up for scenes where Zamperini had to run. Although they play enemies onscreen, Miyavi and O’Connell formed a friendly relationship, supporting each other through their roles. Miyavi has also confessed he has an interest in acting again as ‘Unbroken’ will be his international debut in professional acting.

Although the inspiration and root of this film, Louis Zamperini himself, passed away on the 2nd of July 2014, Jolie is confident the film will do his life justice and promises that anyone who reads his book will feel very connected to him and his life.


  • Comments

    • meepo

      i read Miyavi could possibly be nominated for an oscar for his role

      • sarajgh

        He could be, some people predict him for the final slot, but it all depends on the actual reaction to his performance as the movie hasn’t been released yet. I hope he gets a nom bc it would be a huge feat for Asian actors (and this year’s Oscars are so white).

        • Seekaii

          Aren’t they always?

          • Surreal Score

            No. Recently, Black actors/actresses are being recognized more and more for their outstanding work.

            • sarajgh

              lol really? Recently as in last year for 12 Years a Slave where they were again put in their usual spot as either slaves or historical figures (like Selma this year). 12 Years a Slave was amazing (Chiwetel should have won) but let’s be real here. Once POC actors get the same roles as their white counterparts, that’s when the Oscars will become more diverse.

              • Surreal Score

                You’re not wrong. Not at all, but still, my point still stands. They are definitely being recognized more and more and I think the trend will continue. The recognition may not be fair or equal yet, but you can’t discount the huge steps these Black actors/actresses have taken and the hard work that earned them that recognition. Don’t write that off just because it’s not up to your standards yet. Baby steps… Even small victories deserve to be celebrated. They pave the road for a better tomorrow.

            • iGleaux

              They do that every 7 years (random number) to shut us up but if you actually look at how many have won (and what the have won for) and some of our films that have been snubbed (The Color Purple) you’d understand more.

              • Surreal Score


                I’m just gonna leave this here so that you can see that it’s really not as miniscule as you think it is. They might not win a ton, but to be nominated is an honor in itself. And my original statement still stands. Black actors/actresses are getting more recognition than ever before and that recognition will continue to grow. I have no doubt. To call them mercy awards completely discredits any hard work those actors and actresses did to earn them in the first place. Yes, some deserving movie will always get snubbed. That goes without saying, but the industry isn’t going to turn over a new leaf overnight. Even small victories should be celebrated. Your way of thinking is not helpful. It’s actually more destructive than anything else. Instead of interpreting everything so negatively, why don’t you recognize how far things have come and work to make the future even better?

                • iGleaux

                  You telling me to be happy about small victories based in bullshit is like telling someone “yeah you’re starving by my doing but hey every now and then I give you a table scrap, be happy and maybe one day you’ll get a whole sandwich”. Most of them never win for their best work though. In fact usually they win for some dumb ass stereotype or racial character trope Hollywood will cling to until the end of time. I personally don’t like that so much importance is put on the Oscar’s anyway as I’ll be damned I beg for Hollywood’s approval. Like it was that even based on?

        • FinalFantasy’sNextTopModel

          but the guy has never acted before :S

          • iGleaux

            He has but we won’t talk about that movie.

            • jadedcrimson

              Lmao. I spit out whatever I was drinking. The movie that shall not be named.

            • Sebastian Pintos Cardozo

              God damn it bro XD Omfg I need air, Im dying

              • iGleaux


    • Ryusei

      Dam that sounds intense.. Having to vomit for emotional reasons must have been draining for him physically and psychologically

    • Ash

      I was looking forward to this movie for Jack but I almost forgot that Miyavi was in this until their promo start, hahah

      Too bad the best actor group are already crowded coz I really wanna see Jack get nominated. He’s one of the best young stars I’ve seen. Never thought the good ol’ Cook from Skins would made this far.

    • bakaneko

      i’m here for Myv-chan… well, i’ve always kinda like Jolie, but Myv-chan will be the reason i’ll even watch this movie…

    • Jo

      That sounds good and the preview looks good too!
      I don’t know, I’m a bit skeptical when actor/actress turns director, but I will definitely give it a try. Cook looks so different!

      • Sillage

        She already directed a movie if you want something to compare this one with; in terms of quality and progress. It’s titled “In the Land of Blood and Honey”

        Personally, I think she lacks focus as a writer, there is a sense of detachment between the motive of the movie (what it wants to protray) and the plot/direction of the script.

        Cinematography wise: i honestly don’t know if she has a certain style about her .. we’ll see .. nothing stood out. Although It’s her first movie, however, even madonna had a certain aesthetic about W.E. that you can somewhat distinguish.

        Not a professional opinion btw just notions i had lingering from watching it.

    • Looking forward to this movie since the first trailer!

    • eplizo

      FINALLY. I’ve been waiting for ages for y’all to post something about it lol. He was at the premiere the other day too, and he looked amazing. I’m beyond hyped to watch this.

    • mi|kshake

      I quite fancy seeing this. It’s nice to see Jack O’Connell do well (He was great as Cook in Skins) And very interested to check out Miyavi too. Looking forward to seeing both their performances!

    • oreally?

      I’m here for Jolie and Miyavi–but Cook is a definite bonus!

      • Jo

        I know right! I only recognise him when people start talking he was from Skins. I mean, he looks fantastic!

    • Surreal Score

      To be honest, I don’t think the Japanese general public is going to like this film. In recent years, Japan has been shying away from the sins of their past, refusing to take responsibility for the horrible things their military did. Because of this, tensions with Korea are at an all time high. The Japanese were notoriously ruthless when it came to the inhumane way they treated their enemies. The book is extremely graphic and hard to read at times because of the gory details. If the film is even half as gruesome, it’s going to paint their officers in a very dark light and the Japanese will take offense I’m sure. I hope they don’t. We all have ancestors who did things we’re not proud of. Better to recognize that it happened and take heed in the future than to try to cover it up and pretend like it never happened. That’s why they say “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I’m surprised Arama doesn’t post more politically themed articles about the back and forth shit going on between Japan and Korea. It’s really something…

      • Ryusei

        It’s an entertainment news site not political news site

        • mee-KE-le

          OK. But it’s also important to know in which social/political context the entertainment is happening.

          • sakura kou

            I don’t really care , I am here for the entertainment if anyone wanna read political news their are tones of News sites , it doesn’t have to be here -_-

      • guest

        you mean the Japanese government specifically, I think it’s really the politicians are still in denial or don’t want to face the reality of the full extent of all the atrocities the Japanese soldiers did during WWII. But alot of the general Japanese public don’t seem to really care that much about what happened in WWII, it’s mainly just the extremists. The general japanese public were never well educated about the full extent of the atrocities commited by the Japanese soldiers, and alot of them don’t seem to really care anyway, as far as they’re concerned it’s all in the past they’ve moved on from it. So I don’t think the general japanese public would react too negatively or offensively to the movie, but the extremists will definitely.

        • Surreal Score

          Yes. The denial is mostly on the part of Abe’s government for sure.

      • tommywang

        Japanese society doesn’t turn blind eyes to its sin. Rather they carefully avoid talking about the subject in specifics.

        Most Japanese strongly abhor the fact that their history includes what happened in World War II but at the same time, understandably, many do not feel direct responsibility for what happened then.

        This is supported by the staunch pacifist mentality which is shown time and time again, which can be said to be a direct result of seeing what their World War II history was like.

        Anytime officials or even the US pressured Japan to rewrite its Constitution so that they could expand their military, officially call it a military instead of the Self Defense Force, and legally conduct military operations (US asked for much more extensive direct help from the Japanese when they started their War on Terror), a massive majority of Japanese opposed any such action which would be a step away from their long pacifist history ever since the end of World War II.

        Many Japanese today actually pride themselves on their pacifism, especially in light of what happened in World War II. They may choose very carefully when and where and who they discuss such gruesome things with but they are not willfully ignorant. The ones who deny anything happened are almost always fringe elements or part of the ultra nationalist groups who are the same ones who ride around in the black vans calling up patriotic Japanese citizens to restore Japan to its place of honor.

        My neighbors (in Tokyo) ostracize those guys with lightning speed and still do it with a smile and polite words. Japanese housewifes are scariest when they have that passive aggressive smile on…

        With touchy subjects like the Nanjing Massacre and the human death experiments, it is incredibly difficult to draw out a conversation from most Japanese, especially those that have not researched it beforehand and fully understand what actually happened. Even those that understand deeply what happened and the historical context of it, they are hesitant to talk about it because talking about such things establishes a sense of ‘bad taste’ and is embarrassing in a casual context.

        I’ve also written extensively on the textbook situation and the textbooks that were considered internationally revisionist were used at a total of less than 15 schools total, the actual number being 13 I believe, with 5 of those being private institutions which are considered to be highly, let’s say, political.

        The vast majority of history textbooks (basically every single one I’ve seen that is supposed to cover the era) cover World War II and include instruction about the horrors of World War II. Never have I seen a widely used ‘revisionist’ textbook.

        I cannot say for certain about what the textbook situation was like in the 90s and further back but in the 2000s I can say with certainty that Japanese people are well educated, self aware, and textbooks are completely sorted out.

        I am Chinese and I have yet to meet anyone in Japan who has ever denied the terrible things that happened in World War II. Some may not know specifics of it but they understand the horrors and the war crimes.

        When approaching a Japanese person on such subjects, tact is of utmost importance because when handled badly, it will appear as though you are accusing, goading, or outright insulting them. In which case it is not strange for them to willfully ignore you and they will begin to employ avoidance tactics. Understandably, some will be indignant at such audacity from a stranger and they will become defensive.

        I personally believe this emotional reaction to what they see as an accusation leveled at them personally is what people internationally see as ‘denial’ to World War II, which I also believe to be a huge misunderstanding.

        Above all, it is important to be polite, aware of the situation and atmosphere, who you are talking to, and to pick words carefully. Not just about World War II and not just Japanese people either, you will find there is almost always much more than meets the eye (or ear in this case?).

        Just had to address this as it is a closely personal matter (some relatives died in occupied Chinese territory and had relatives who were killed in their childhood at Nanjing gruesome stuff) and also rife with hearsay, misconceptions, and sensationalism.

        • Surreal Score

          I realize this article is from a Korean news site and, therefore, undoubtedly biased (as can be seen in the horrible Nate comments from K-Netizens) but it does prove that some Japanese citizens and not just the Japanese government are dead set on burying the past and refusing to acknowledge the doings of their ancestors. Some, but not all of course. But to say “most Japanese strongly abhor…their history” is painting with a broad brush. There are a hundred articles just like this one all over the internet. The majority of the country may be pacifists as you say (I can’t vouch for or against that claim), but that still doesn’t negate that lots of people support the government in their ongoing fight against the country’s true history. Some people do think like this. There can be no doubt.

    • Jo

      They were in Sydney for the world premiere!

      • phililen3

        I though that was someone in their early twenties… Didn’t recognize Miyavi at all…

    • Diana’s MovieReviews

      Miyavi is such a sweet guy, with a kind heart. My sister met him in a Meet and Greet and she was totally delighted how charming he was. It’s gonna be hard to see him in this role. But it’s a huge chance for him to become a hollywood star like Ken Watanabe. He could even get an oscar nomination. Good luck to him! <3

    • iGleaux

      I’m proud of Miyavi though. For a VK dude he’s accomplished a lot of cool stuff but he works hard as hell. So happy for him.