Snake Eyes follows the classic G.I. Joe character, a tenacious loner who is welcomed into an ancient Japanese clan called the Arashikage after saving the life of their heir apparent. Upon arrival in Japan, the Arashikage teach Snake Eyes the ways of the ninja warrior while also providing something he’s been longing for: a home. But, when secrets from his past are revealed, Snake Eyes’ honour and allegiance will be tested...even if that means losing the trust of those closest to him.
The movie arrives exclusively in UK cinemas this Wednesday (it also arrives early on Digital in the U.S. starting today), and a little earlier this summer, we sat down for a conversation with Andrew Koji.
The actor, who has starred in Warrior, Peaky Blinders, and the upcoming Bullet Train, brings one of the G.I. Joe franchise's most iconic characters to life as Storm Shadow. In this interview, Andrew talks about how he approached the role, the importance of fans when it came to helping him get the character right, what it means to see an action figure based on his likeneness, and why he's excited for the movie to be seen on the biggest screens possible.
He also comments on the chances of a spinoff for Storm Shadow (leading to an eventual "versus" movie with a certain someone). You can watch our full conversation with Andrew about Snake Eyes in the player below:
With this iteration of Storm Shadow, unlike those we’ve seen in the past, he does get a backstory and personality, but was it important to you when you signed up to be able to portray more than just a guy in a badass suit?
Yeah, that was very much something going into it. I’m not on the quest to become famous and just to be in a big film. I had discussions with Robert and it was important for me, as I’m half Japanese, to play a Japanese character and do it right. It was also important to do it in a way that I know a younger version of myself would be proud and happy to see. So, yeah, it was definitely...being badass and all that stuff isn’t interesting. Let’s try to level it up these days and make it three-dimensional. That’s definitely the intention I had and the filmmaker, Robert, was very much an advocate for that. It was a cool process.
When you do walk on to set in that costume, does it help you to inhabit this character? Obviously, you have the backstory, but when you are being a badass warrior, does it help being suited up?
Being in any different kind of costume informs how he moves and it’s not a costume to him, it’s his clothes. To find how you move and feel definitely informs [your performance]. It’s just like how the fighting informs the psychology of the character, the clothes can inform who he is as well.
It must be pretty awesome for you at this point in your career to have your own action figure as well?
I’m an older man, so it’s more about the kids [Laughs]. If they enjoy it and like it, and for Asian representation, if they can play with that and feel seen and heard, that’s what’s important, you know?
In the comics and cartoons, we’ve seen Storm Shadow’s loyalties jump between Cobra, G.I. Joe and, of course, Snake Eyes, but what would you tease in this film about that?
In this one, his loyalties absolutely lie with...let’s say, with the vision he has with the Arashikage. That’s a bit of a tease! You can interpret that how you want [Laughs].
There’ve been a lot of interactions of this character, whether it’s in toys, cartoons, or comics, but were any of those particularly helpful to you in terms of research or was the script enough?
The early drafts of the script were very different to what we ended up making, so for me, it was talking to the fans. There was one fan, in particular, who was a Storm Shadow fanatic. You’ve got all these different iterations and franchises, and there are many reincarnations of these characters and they get updated for modern times. It was about finding the spirit and essence of the character which you get a sense of when you talk to the fans. That was the informing point, and once I got that, that was the hook and then you add the other research and prep you do into it. Then you hope they like it [Laughs] and that they’re happy.
Talking of the fans, this is a movie they’ll be able to see on the big screen, so are there any particular action sequences or scenes you were part of you’re excited for them to see that way?
We made this film two years ago, and in a very different pre-COVID world. It’s been a tough year for many people, and the main thing I hope is that people will enjoy it, get a bit of escapism and fun and be taken to this fun world away from the harshness of real life just for a couple of hours.
Storm Shadow is such an iconic character and feels like someone who could hold his own in a film of his own in this G.I. Joe Universe, so would revisiting him in a solo project be of interest?
Yeah, yeah, yeah...absolutely. I think there’s a lot to explore with that. It would be cool if there was a Snake Eyes film, a Storm Shadow film, and then a finale where they clash. Who knows, man? I don’t know!
Snake Eyes is exclusively in cinemas from Wednesday 18th August