You know the age-old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover?" Well, that's certainly the case with Kiki Sukezane.
At first glance, the Japanese actress may look small and sweet — but mess with her, and she will turn into a lean, mean sword-wielding machine. Just watch the trailers that have been released for Heroes Reborn so far, and you'll see what we mean.
Sukezane stars as one of the ordinary people with extraordinary abilities in Heroes Reborn – a new 13-episode series that's a continuation of 2006's Heroes – premiering on NBC September 24. The trailers haven't revealed a ton about her character Miko Otomo, a young woman living in Tokyo, described by the official Heroes Reborn synopsis as "trying to track down her missing father while hiding an extraordinary secret that will make her a force to be reckoned with." They do, however, show her ready to take down bad guys, samurai sword in hand.
"I've been training in samurai sword fighting for six years. I really put my style into this character," said Sukezane – whose ancestors were samurai – in a Skype interview with T-Lounge while on break from filming Heroes Reborn in Toronto. "I think that's why I got this role, because for the audition, I showed them my sword-fighting skill."
Though Miko is a new character in the Heroes universe, fans of the original series will recognize the helix symbol on the grip of the sword Sukezane's character wields in the trailers and promo shots for the show. In fact, Miko's sword looks a lot like the one the legendary samurai Takezo Kensei carried in Heroes, although Sukezane neither confirmed nor denied the resemblance.
"Well... I can't tell you anything," Sukezane said. "But we'll see."
Sukezane did however reveal that viewers can expect even more action from Heroes Reborn than the original served up during its four seasons on NBC.
"It sounds like more action in it and more CGI. It's going to be more fun to watch, like visual effects and stuff. And also, there's going to be more drama," Sukezane said. "If people watch the original, it's going to be a more interesting story. But then, even if you haven't watched the original, you can just start to watch Reborn without watching the original. It's still amazing."
Still, plot lines and characters from Heroes are sure to pop up in this continuation, which begins after a terrorist attack blamed on EVOs, or evolved humans, destroys Odessa, Texas. Now these heroes are dead, in hiding or on the run, as a malevolent group hunts them down to kill them.
Though not every character from the original Heroes series will be returning for Heroes Reborn, fan favorites Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka), Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg), Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and The Haitian (Jimmy Jean-Louis) are all confirmed to be coming back, as well as Noah Bennett (Jack Coleman) aka Horn-Rimmed Glasses aka HRG — who is off the grid when the series begins.
For Sukezane, who had been a fan of Heroes, it was especially exciting to be a part of Heroes Reborn and get to work with some of the actors who appeared in the original series.
"I really, really liked the storyline because there was Japan in the story and there were also Japanese actors. At the time, I really wanted to be an actress in Hollywood, so Heroes inspired me," Sukezane said. "I really like Masi [Oka], and now I'm acting with him — so that's amazing, you know?"
Now the people Sukezane had been watching on TV during her high school years are her friends, in addition to her fellow actors also new to the Heroes franchise. Head over to Sukezane's Twitter feed, and you'll see photo after photo of the actress and the rest of the Heroes Reborn cast hanging out at music festivals, bars and by the pool. Coleman even wore a T-shirt with "Kiki is my hero" written across the front during the Heroes Reborn panel at Comic-Con so that Sukezane, who was unable to attend, could be there in spirit.
But working with such a big ensemble cast has meant more to Sukezane than just a good time.
"I learn every time I go to the studio, because they're such good actors. Even if I just watch them, it's like studying for me," Sukezane said. "I use English and Japanese both in the show, so it's still harder for me to act in English because it's my second language, but they help me a lot even before we shoot and then also during the shoot."
Aside from the language barrier, the most challenging part of filming Heroes Reborn for Sukezane was unsurprisingly the fighting. Sukezane did all of the sword work for for Miko while her stunt double took care of the more gymnastic movements, like flips and cartwheels. As one can imagine, trying to single-handedly take down five or six guys at a time, as Sukezane does in Heroes Reborn, wasn't easy.
"I hit the camera a couple times during the shoot, and I was like, 'Oh my God,'" she said. Sukezane hasn't gotten any injuries during filming yet — "just bruises and stuff, but you know, bruises hurt pretty much everyone."
All in a day's work for a warrior.