At the movies

Matthew Fox dug deep for ‘Emperor’ role

 

mmarr@miamiherald.com

Matthew Fox is dedicated. The actor known best for television roles in Party of Five and Lost is settling into his role as big-screen leading man nicely.

But no one ever said it would be easy.

In his latest movie, Fox plays Gen. Bonner Fellers, a real life U.S. Army officer who was assigned to see if Emperor Hirohito should be executed as a war criminal after World War II.

“It was a lot of work,” Fox admitted from his home in Bend, Ore. “But really rewarding in many ways. I enjoyed the process and kind of carrying a movie; I really haven’t done that yet. When I get focused and feel like I can tell a story and learn something it’s a win-win.”

There was a learning curve.

“This was a piece of history I knew nothing about,” the 46-year-old admitted. “We were exploring the tensions and uncertainties of the days immediately following the Japanese surrender. All my consciousness about that war and what happened was focused on Germany and Europe and Hitler and the Holocaust.”

Costar Tommy Lee Jones had his own share of challenges as Gen. Douglas MacArthur; Fox takes his hat off to the veteran Oscar winner.

“Tommy was perfect. He was dealing with one of the most iconic military figures of the 20th century. There are many things we know by studying footage of him from 1945, MacArthur’s speeches, the way he stood and carried himself. The corncob pipe, all that. But I was excited to see what he would bring to it.”

Fox had to delve deep not only into history but also Japanese customs in order to get Fellers right.

“I knew very little about their culture,” Fox explains. “I’d been in Tokyo a few times and always enjoyed it and been fascinated by it. It’s one of those places where you feel more like a foreigner as a Westerner than you would in other places in the world like Europe.”

The role required the Pennsylvanian to learn some of the language. “I had to try to be convincing as someone who spoke it,” he says. “I kind of went on this journey.”

Next up for Fox: playing a Navy Seal in the potentially huge World War Z, starring Brad Pitt.

“It’s such a cool reimagining of the zombie genre,” the actor says of the sci fi action flick. “As far as tent pole summer blockbusters go, this is the kind of thing I’d like to turn out to with a big bucket of popcorn.”

After a busy 2012 (stealing scenes as a flashy villain in Alex Cross), the married father of two decided to take a break and spend quality time in his Pacific Northwest paradise.

“I felt like I needed to be home and spend time with my friends, my family. I’ve just been enjoying it. Skiing, wine country — I love it.”

Don’t look for Fox ever checking out real estate in Miami.

“The four seasons are for me. I love the climate. After six years in Hawaii [on Lost], I am tired of the sunshine!”

Follow the writer www.twitter.com/madeleinemarr

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