In the film “Bullet Train”, Pitt stars as Ladybug, an unlucky assassin determined to do his job peacefully after one too many gigs gone off the rails. Fate, however, may have other plans, as Ladybug’s latest mission puts him on a collision course with lethal adversaries from around the globe—all with connected, yet conflicting, objectives—on the world’s fastest train. The end of the line is just the beginning in this non-stop thrill-ride through modern-day Japan from David Leitch, the director of Deadpool 2.
Japanese-British actor/martial artist Andrew Koji plays the role of Kimura, a low-level Tokyo criminal who has hit rock bottom. An alcoholic in a perpetual haze, he boards the train ready to exact his revenge on the unknown culprit who attacked his son and ultimately redeem himself and restore honor to his family name.
For Koji, the complexity of the character and the film’s relatable themes of luck and family resonated. “I’ve never seen a character like Kimura before, let alone in a big Hollywood film like Bullet Train. From the moment you first see him, you know he’s a man in crisis, made worse by the disapproval of his father. He’s a decisive moment that incites the whole film and his storyline.”
“This film is about luck, and like Ladybug, I think Kimura’s always felt unlucky his whole life,” Koji continues. “When you have a victim mentality, you attract that kind of energy. But he’ll have a moment when his luck turns around.”
“Andrew’s character is the heartbeat of the movie,” says Leitch. “It’s definitely Ladybug’s story, but the emotional center – and the most complex relationship in the movie – is the relationship between Kimura and The Elder.”
As Kimura’s stoic, unyielding father, known as the Elder, Hiroyuki Sanada takes on the multi-layered character of the modest florist who is fiercely protective of his family. Even as Kimura loses himself in a bottle and feels the enormous shame he’s brought to his family, the Elder knows his son is a survivor. “Getting the role was a dream, but then I find out that Hiroyuki Sanada is playing my dad,” says Koji. “This whole experience has been a bit surreal. I never saw my path ever crossing with Hiroyuki Sanada.”
When the Elder, worried about Kimura, boards the train, he shares some sage wisdom with Ladybug. “He explains the lore of Tentou-mushi – Japanese for ladybug,” says screenwriter Zak Olkewicz. “The explanation is that there is a spot on its back for each of the seven sorrows of the world of mankind. Tentou-mushi isn’t lucky – it holds all the bad luck, so others may live in peace with good luck. That, to me, is such a beautiful moment – a discussion of acceptance of your place in the world.”
Bullet Train is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Connect with the hashtag #BulletTrainMovie