Kite (my review), based on the Yasuomi Umetsu anime of the same name, is now in theaters and is available on VOD. In the film, India Eisley (The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Underworld: Awakening) portrays Sawa, an assassin devoid of emotion who, with the help of Samuel L. Jackson’s Karl Aker, wreaks havoc on the human traffickers she believes are responsible for the deaths of her mother and policeman father. Eisley spoke with me about her familiarity with the Kite source material, her approach to the character, and working with Samuel L. Jackson.
Although the anime first debuted in 1998, Eisley, like myself, was not familiar with the source material before auditioning for the role of Sawa. She was offered the role two years after the initial audition and, Eisley explains, “I didn’t know what the anime was, so I looked it up. I was curious how close they wanted me to keep my performance to that in the anime.”
In fact, not having seen the anime was an advantage Eisley tells me – it helped the actress make Sawa her own character. However, in preparing for the role, she admits, “There weren’t many different ways of interpreting the role. It was pretty straightforward. [Sawa] is an assassin who is addicted to this drug. She’s an emotional wreck, which makes her turn into this killing machine.” There was some leeway, however, in how the role of Sawa was written for Eisley, especially in how the film differed from the anime. “She showed more emotion than in the anime, which allowed the audience to connect with her.”
Eisley also had an advantage going into Kite in having been involved in another kinetic film with Underworld: Awakening, although she contends that the films were very different animals. “Underworld involved a lot of different harnesses and prosthetics and fangs, while Kite allowed me to use a lot of different weapons, which was very cool.”
Eisley admits that acting opposite Samuel L. Jackson was both a huge draw and a huge advantage in the course of shooting the film. “Hearing Sam was doing it was the cherry on top,” she says. “He’s a very giving actor. Aside from being Mr. Cool and an incredible actor, he is very giving and kind human being.” She expressed some disappointment that a lot of their more emotional scenes wound up on the editing room floor for the sake of the film’s pacing.