Danny Glover, who is perhaps best known in Japan for the action film series “Lethal Weapon,” is taking on a new challenge: to examine the prejudice and discrimination between African-Americans and Japanese lingering since World War II, through his latest film “The Harimaya Bridge,” which is currently being filmed in Kochi Prefecture.
The film, of which Glover, 61, is executive producer, follows an African-American man (Ben Guillory) who visits Japan to retrieve a collection of paintings produced by his estranged son Mickey, who had been living in Kochi Prefecture until his untimely death. The film depicts the man’s prejudice against Japanese and discrimination by Japanese against foreigners in relation to World War II. Glover plays the role of Mickey’s uncle.
Portraying a personal story, Glover said he wants to express the emotional danger of Americans in a fragile position in a small local community in Japan. “The film has two elements: physical danger and emotional danger,” he said. “The emotional danger is what happens when we are allowed to look inside the characters. Doing something this extraordinary, we begin to re-examine ourselves and our relationships to each other in this fragile world.”
Born in San Francisco where diversified communities such as Japanese, Korean, Hispanic, African and other ethnicities live together, Glover thinks being an actor is something more than show business. “One of the wonderful privileges of being in cultural work as an actor is to get chances to interact with many different worlds. I found that because of that, it has allowed me to have a better sense of myself and responsibility I have as an artist in the world. This film is unfolding a new chapter in my life.”
As a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Program, Glover said he has a strong interest in stories related to war, whether it be World War II or current conflicts around the globe. “Millions of women and men go to war everyday,” he said. “The idea of ‘The Harimaya Bridge’ is to show how the interaction between Japanese and Americans in a small community in Kochi can serve as an example for communication between people in the global community.”
Filming a personal story of Americans in Japan, Glover indirectly challenges the status quo of filmmaking in Hollywood, which he disdains. “The whole system of filmmaking has been hijacked. Mostly men make decisions about what the world is gonna see. The question is quality. People want to see diversified films, so I’d like to change the existing paradigms in Hollywood.”
Glover said his mother, whom he called a “woman of magnitude,” had a great influence on his career. “One day, when I stepped into her place of work, she said, ‘Danny, Danny, come here. I want you to meet someone I work with.’ Then she said to her colleagues: ‘I want you to meet my son. He’s an actor. He hasn’t done anything yet, but he’s gonna do something important.’ Well, I guess, doing this wonderful film, ‘The Harimaya Bridge,’ is something important.”
“The Harimaya Bridge” is scheduled to be released in the summer of 2009.© Japan Today