Lee Isaac Chung Talks Live Action American Remake of “Your Name”

In 2017, it was reported that Eric Heisserer, J.J. Abrams, Lindsey Weber, and Genki Kawamura were working on a live action American remake of “Your Name” for Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot Productions, alongside the original film’s producers, Toho, who will also handle the remake’s distribution in Japan.

Heisserer later revealed that Toho wanted the remake to be made from the Western point of view. In February 2019, Marc Webb signed on to direct it. The remake will be about a young Native American woman living in a rural area and a young man from Chicago who discover they are magically and intermittently swapping bodies. In September 2020, Deadline Hollywood reported that Lee Isaac Chung had taken over directoral and writing duties, working off a draft penned by Emily V. Gordon.

Chung has recently experienced great success with his 2020 film “Minari.” He is now nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay at the 93rd Academy Awards. The film is also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Steven Yeun), Best Supporting Actress (Youn Yuhjung), and Best Original Score (Emile Mosseri).

In the run up to the Oscars, New York Magazine‘s entertainment blog Vulture spoke to Chung about a variety of topics, including the “Your Name” remake. Check it out below!

Have you been able to take some time for yourself?
Everything is still busy. I’m working on trying to see if we can film this project “Your Name” this year. I don’t know if anyone should be adapting it, but I am, but I’m doing it.

Yeah, often my reaction to Hollywood doing American versions of Korean or Japanese IP is just: Watch the original.
I don’t think you’re wrong about that in any way. I have fears if we’re doing it the right way. I like the idea of doing a transformation that happens when you do animation to live action. They wanted me to do a very American take on it. Toho Studios are of the mind that a live-action adaptation shouldn’t be Japanese, because in that case, they would rather the film just exist as the animated one. They want to see how the work can be transformed to an American film. That’s the way they communicated it to me.

What’s the thing you’re hoping to accomplish with a live-action animated version that wouldn’t have been possible in the existing Makoto Shinkai anime?
What I want to go into is the interconnectedness of people from different cultures in the U.S., which I think is different from the Japanese version because they’re looking at Japanese people more as a singular culture, whereas in the U.S. we have more of a multicultural reality. I’m wanting to play within that space. I do have red flags that go off on projects like this. I was hoping that the way that I contribute is to let it be a film that entwines different cultures, and that’s something I feel that we, as Asian Americans, consider — those relationships. I don’t have a very articulate way to put this, but I’ve always been interested in the ways that different cultures interact and the ways in which I feel like an outsider to that, but also someone who is trying to interweave and be part of different cultures as well as among Asian Americans. I don’t know if you ever feel that way.