An American actor from Canada travels the world to promote his starring role in the English-language reboot of a cult Japanese cyberpunk film series. This may sound like an unbelievable scenario, but for the past year or so, it’s been Eric Bossick’s life.
The 37-year-old has long led a nomadic existence. Bossick went from his native Pennsylvania to Singapore and Canada, where he received a BFA in acting from the University of Victoria. He initially intended to find work in Vancouver, but dissatisfaction with life there—Bossick calls it a “heavy, drab city”—made him eager to move. When a Japanese roommate rekindled his long-held interest in Asia, he thought Tokyo was the logical place to start.
Bossick, who originally entered the country on a working holiday visa, says he never intended to stay long. “But there were so many interesting things to explore, and I just kept extending my stay more and more until I had lived here for eight years,” he says.
While modeling, acting and studying photography in Tokyo, Bossick also became involved in butoh, performing with the renowned Asbestos-kan studio, among others. He moved to LA for a brief period, working as a photographer for various magazines, shooting stills for TV and acting as a location coordinator and guide for Japanese film crews. But in the end, he says, “I was really homesick for Tokyo,” and returned in 2007.
The move was certainly a good one. Bossick currently stars in director Shinya Tsukamoto’s man-meets-machine tale "Tetsuo: The Bullet Man." The movie is a follow-up to the director’s low-budget, black-and-white "Tetsuo: The Iron Man" (1989) and its sequel-cum-reboot "Tetsuo II: Body Hammer" (1992), both of which became cult hits with genre fans the world over.
All three films are variations on the same story: an ordinary man experiences a violent tragedy, and his subsequent rage causes his body to transform into a terrifying amalgam of man and machine. In "Bullet Man," Bossick plays Anthony, a Japanese-American businessman living in Tokyo with his wife Yuriko (Akiko Monou; Samurai Fiction) and young son Tom. One day, Tom is deliberately run over by a car, and in his search for the boy’s killers, Anthony follows the trail of a mysterious man referred to only as Yatsu (played by Tsukamoto himself). “The movie is a rollercoaster—almost an attack on the audience,” Bossick enthuses.
The actor says he was determined to get the part the moment he heard that Tsukamoto was making a new movie—even before he had any idea what it was.
“I didn’t know much about it at that point,” he reveals, leaning forward and gesturing excitedly. “My assumption was that it was just like any other of his movies… and maybe I could come on and have a kind of walk-on role and then be done.” It wasn’t until the second round of auditions that Bossick learned about the project being a new "Tetsuo" film—or that the role he was auditioning for was no mere walk-on.
But there was one serious obstacle to landing the role. “They were looking for someone who was half-Japanese,” he explains. “And sometimes, people ask me if I’m half or a quarter or something, but I’m really not. So I thought, ‘OK, I have to go in and really blow them away with my acting and be really, really strong, in which case they can’t say no.’” Roughly one month later, Bossick got the call saying he had won the part—and the rest, as they say, is history.
Bossick has spent the last several months touring the festival circuit, including last month’s Tribeca Film Festival and the 65th Venice Film Festival last September, where he and the rest of the cast walked the red carpet. Sounds nerve-wracking, right?
“Well, I’ve done modeling before, and I’ve done a lot of the Tokyo Collections runways. So I’m thinking, ‘I guess it’ll be like doing a fashion show. It’s always about the clothes anyway, right?’” he says with a laugh.
But the highlight of the festival tour was the cast’s trip to New York.
“We blew out the speakers in the theater at Tribeca,” Bossick says proudly. “We were the only film to do that.”
This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).© Japan Today