Hiroyuki Sanada is new to the "Lost" universe, but he handles press questions like an old pro.
Which is to say, you won't be reading a whole lot of spoiler information in the Q&A below about his character Dogen's role in the events of Season 6. "He's mysterious," Sanada says with a laugh.
But we did talk about how Sanada — a veteran of dozens of films in his home country of Japan, as well as American movies like "The Last Samurai," "Rush Hour 3" and "Speed Racer" — grilled "Lost" executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof about his role, about the show's popularity in Japan, and just a little bit about what to expect for the rest of the season.
Zap2it: How did this part come to you?
Sanada: The producers called me and offered me the role of Dogen, a Japanese guy who lives on the island. I was very surprised, because I had never done a TV show in the U.S. ... I knew ["Lost"] had high-quality scripts and cast, so it was a surprise, but it was very exciting.
I didn't know about my character — I didn't have a script yet [when the offer came]. I met with Carlton and Damon at the Disney studio, and they explained about my character's background. And also I asked them a lot of things, because some Japanese characters are stereotyped for misunderstanding of other cultures. So I had to check. As an actor who grew up in Japan, it's so delicate for us. I asked them a lot, and they answered me immediately. ... So I thought, I can believe them about the script, and I said yes. It was a long time until I got the scripts — I spent a month and a half watching the whole series. I saw everything during the wait for the scripts.
Zap2it: Did that help you? I would think that would help you understand your character, since he seems to have history on the island.
Sanada: Yeah. My character knows some secrets, so I had to learn before I read the scripts. That was great. And I reexamined how great a show it is. The quality is so great.
Zap2it: Is "Lost" popular in Japan?
Sanada: Very much. I just came back from Tokyo last night. I did a big event with Carlton — talk shows, press conferences. We got a great reaction there. I was surprised at how big it is in Japan. There is a big audience for "Lost."
Click on the link to read the rest of the interview.