‘The Boy and the Heron’ actor reveals Hayao Miyazaki apologized for giving him ‘strange role’


Masaki Suda, the Japanese actor who voiced the titular gray heron in Studio Ghibli’s “The Boy and the Heron,” revealed that legendary director Hayao Miyazaki apologized to him for some of the odd elements in the film, including his “strange role.”

The context: In the movie, Suda, 30, voices an elder man disguised as a heron who counsels the boy, Mahito Maki (Soma Santoki in the original Japanese dub and Luca Padovan in the English dub), who recently lost his mother during World War II. He then draws Mahito into a surreal world that is shared by the living and the dead.

Miyazaki’s apology: Speaking to Japanese musician Kenshi Yonezu, who performs the theme song “Spinning Globe” in the movie, Suda revealed how the 82-year-old director apologized to him for giving him “such a strange role” in the Studio Ghibli movie, according to the video interview released by GKIDS.

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He added that he was not bothered by it, telling Yonezu, “It wasn't a problem at all, though."

The creative process: Sharing about the creative process behind voicing the heron, Suda said he studied the animals by watching videos at home and discovered that they make “really strange sounds, or more like noises.”

Suda continued that he did not know how to approach the role after learning how the herons sound so he “tried different voices and having exchanges with the other woman from production.”

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The "voice of God": He noted that there was “a sense of tension” during the production since Miyazaki did not speak and only listened.

Suda then added that he heard the esteemed director say, “That’s it!” and “That sounds good” while he was trying different voices, to which Yonezu asked him, “Like the voice of God coming from above?”

“Yeah, exactly!" Suda responded. "After that moment, everything was quick."

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Hearing his take: Those who want to hear Suda’s take on the character will have to watch the original Japanese version of the movie, which was first released to Japanese theaters on July 14.

The Boy and the Heron,” distributed by GKIDS, will open in U.S. theaters on Dec. 8. The U.S. release English-dub will feature a star-studded cast, including Christian Bale, Dave Bautista, Florence Pugh, Gemma Chan, Mark Hamill, Willem Dafoe, Karen Fukuhara and Robert Pattinson as The Gray Heron.


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