An interview with Dragonball Evolution star James Masters
Q: How does it feel to be part of the Dragonball universe?
A: It feels great. I am the biggest fan of this project, so I’m really excited. I’ve seen every episode of Dragonball, Dragonball Z and Dragonball GT and I love the character of Piccolo. I couldn’t be happier.
Q: Is this the biggest movie role of your career?
A: It is. I’m trying not to think about it too much, but I was in the bathtub the other day when I realised, ‘Wow, you’re actually Piccolo!’ It’s mind-blowing. It’s amazing. I’m trying to have fun with it, but I’m also trying to remain calm. I’ve been playing with Dragonball action figures for years and I would always choose Piccolo, so in my head I’ve been playing this character for ages already.
Q: How would you describe Piccolo?
A: Piccolo is evil. He used to be a hot-looking guy, but he’s been in prison so long that he’s aged badly and he’s very angry about it. He’s a solitary figure and he’s tearing up the world. He has a lot of tricks up his sleeves.
Q: Did you have to undertake any physical training for the role?
A: I did weights and a lot of stretching. I also learned a lot of punches and kicks. I was training like a mad man because I knew I was going to get hurt during the shooting of the movie, but it’s going to hurt a little less if you’re in shape. I knew I was going to go home limping, but I tried to minimise it.
Q: What can you tell us about the movie’s stunts?
A: The stunt crew is amazing. They worked on 300 and Spider-Man, as well as the Matrix and the Bourne movies. I’m hanging out with the guy who played the black Spider-Man, which is very cool. I was really impressed.
Q: Can you tell us about Piccolo’s look in the film?
A: I had a real need for Piccolo to look old and decrepit in the movie. The script says his face is lined with pain, but it doesn’t take away any of his awesome power. After the make-up was applied, I would look in the mirror and disgust myself. My girlfriend didn’t want to kiss me in make-up and that annoyed me, which was great for this character.
Q: How long did the make-up take to apply?
A: I was in make-up for four hours every morning and then I’d have to work a 12-hour day after that. It was tough. Being in make-up for that long is a bit of a mind game. You have to learn to not get disturbed by any itching you might have or any sense of claustrophobia.
Q: How difficult was it to stay still for so long?
A: Well, it’s not really painful and it’s not technically uncomfortable but it’s difficult to stay still for four hours. The more still you can be, the more the make-up artist can have fun and be creative. I took in my music and gave the make-up guy a shoulder rub if he got tired because he was the one who was working. I was just sitting still.
Q: Are you happy with the way Piccolo looks on the big screen?
A: I think the make-up artist did an amazing job. His name is Ed French and he’s fabulous. The character’s flesh is alive, so it’s very interesting. At one point, Piccolo was going to be less scary, but we came into some middle ground and the result was something cooler than I ever imagined. I’m really happy with Piccolo’s look. He’s old and you can see he wants those Dragonballs for a reason. And then there’s his suit, which makes you feel like a demon god.
Q: Why does Dragonball appeal to you so much?
A: I love the way it helps young boys look at becoming a man. In that respect, it’s certainly helped me raise my son. Dragonball shows people that being a humble, goofy, mellow guy doesn’t mean you’re weak at all. I’m referring to the lead character, Goku, here. He shows the audience how to be a man in the movie and that’s the message Dragonball sends out.
Q: Is your son a fan of Dragonball?
A: My son is 11 years old and he’s a huge fan. He’s going to kill me if this movie isn’t right. He said to me, I’m not sure I’m going to tell my friends about it because it might suck, Dad. He’s seen what happens with movie adaptations and Dragonball is very important to him, so I’m feeling a lot of pressure.
Q: What does he think of Piccolo?
A: I’ve been on a weight regime with this role and I told my son that I had a couple of cookies the other night. He said to me, Why did you do that, Dad? Why? Do you want to be fat Piccolo? Or do you want to be known for all time as the coolest character in the universe? He told me! I soon stopped eating cookies.
Q: Did he visit the film set?
A: No, he’s still in school and Durango, Mexico where most of the movie was filmed is not a place that I would want to ask his mother to take him. It’s a beautiful town, but he was better off in school.
Q: Has he seen you dressed as Piccolo?
A: Not yet. All of the characters’ looks are being kept secret. I told him that I had one picture and I really wanted to send it to him, but he said, Don’t do it, Dad. Don’t compromise the security. He’s great like that and very funny with it.
Q: How does Piccolo compare to your Smallville character, Milton Fine?
A: My Smallville character thinks that humans are cute and he enjoys pretending that he cares about them but Piccolo thinks of humans as ants and vermin. Piccolo feels that he needs to get rid of humans so that he can let the beautiful planet breathe. Humans are beneath him. He’ll kill a million and he wouldn’t care.
Q: Do you think Smallville fans will enjoy Dragonball Evolution?
A: I hope so. I also hope it attracts the Buffy fans, too. The movie has a completely different theme to Buffy, but I hope the fans come along for the ride. You know what? This film is going to blow people away. I can’t wait for everyone to see it.