Whatever your job entails, the strongest support is usually closest to home. But actor Dean Fujioka is better known in Taiwan and Hong Kong than he is in his native Japan.
The actor, musician and director, who made his American debut earlier this month in the wild west detective series The Pinkertons, calls himself a “nomad actor” – as long as there’s an international airport, he’ll go wherever his work takes him.
Born in Fukushima Prefecture as Tatsuo Fujioka, he moved to Seattle for university, travelling around Asia after graduation. After being scouted by a magazine editor in a Hong Kong nightclub, Fujioka began a career in modelling and acting. Relocating to Taipei in 2006 brought with it more acting roles – such as Corner with Love and Road Less Traveled – that have made him a household name in Taiwan.
In Japan, however, Fujioka is not so well-known. When he made his directorial debut last year with a biopic of convicted murderer Tetsuya Ichihashi, who went on the run after killing British teacher Lindsay Hawker in 2007, it was actually the first time Fujioka had worked in his home country. He directed and starred in I Am Ichihashi, also finding time to compose the movie’s theme music, too.
▼ The title of one Japanese article we read about Fujioka was ‘dare kono ikemen?‘ (“Who the heck is this hot guy?!”)
And this autumn’s US series The Pinkertons is his first acting credit on North American soil. Fujioka plays mysterious character Kenji Hara in an episode that aired November 1, and has spoken of his hope that the drama will be broadcast in Japan, too.
In a Q&A session about the series, he spoke of his ambition to become as world-renowned as Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune, and said he eventually aspires to “pave the way for more Asian people to work in the North American film industry”.
Fujioka, who speaks five languages, refers to his international career as that of a “Nomad Actor”: he will travel to wherever the work takes him. He currently divides his time between Taipei, Jakarta, Tokyo, and Canada.
▼ As Kenji Hara in The Pinkertons.