BWW Interviews: Julian Cihi Makes Off-Broadway Debut in ROMEO & JULIET
Julian Cihi makes his off-Broadway debut as 'Romeo,' the tragically love stricken adolecent, who falls for the daughter of his father's enemy in "Romeo & Juliet." Directed by Tea Alagi (JACKIE), and written by William Shakespeare, the production brings a unique interpretation to the timeless story of love and tragedy. Opposite Cihi is Elizabeth Olsen as 'Juliet,' T.R. Knight as 'Mercutio,' and Daniel Davis as 'Friar Lawrence.' The production officially opens on October 16th and will run through November 10th at the Classic Stage Company.
Cihi has been noted for performances in the Regional Theatre's production of "The Importance of Being Earnest." He has also been in the Japanese tour of "Rent," and the Williamstown Theatre's production of "A Month in the Country." His filmic credits include "Ginger," "Spectrophobia," and "Shadow Puppets."
The actor spoke exclusively to BWW about love, moving across the world to study in America, and how "West Side Story" gave him the acting bug.
Your Romeo is different. You [the audience] want to be his friend. He's not a love sick poet like Leonardo Di Caprio [in Romeo + Juliet] .
I'm glad that you say that because I thought about the play and I thought about the role and it's been done many, many times, with very very famous people- as we speak too. I thought about it, and Romeo can be any guy, because the whole point is that Romeo finds someone who returns his love. There's one key phrase I think in the whole play; where it's the first time you see the Friar and Romeo together and says "her I love now doth grace for grace and love for love allow, the other did not so." The other being Rosaline.
I walk around and see couples ya know, whatever age, doesn't matter, race age looks, whatever . And I see two people in love and I'm like "yeah," that's Romeo and Juliet. I wanted to just get rid of any preconceived notion or idea about Romeo at least and I know Lizzie [Elzabeth Olsen] does the same, and just make it our own.
You're so romantic!
I mean, I guess people can be romantic in different ways. I live with a bunch of different guys and they're from all over the world. One of my closest friends is from Italy, he's very passionate in his way. He's a little dorky and nerdy, and he buys flowers and candy. And my other friend from Spain has his own way of showing his love to his girlfriend. I see this and I go "Yeah, there's no one way to be romantic or to be this lover."
You're in this play with these very established actors and this is your debut, and it's great! You stand up so well beside them. Are you learning a lot?
I'm learning so much! Because as you said these a very, very established actors, very experienced, and I just love actors, I've realized. And I love learning from them, and I learn something new all the time. I was born and raised in Tokyo and I'm Japanese, and I come from a very different culture and being, with and working, with Americans, for the most part, is cool because I learn different things. And one of the most important things I learned is to really speak up and voice one's opinion. But you know working with actors who have been doing this for so long, they give me nice tips and just "go with your gut" and just the "do what you wanna do" sort of thing. I think that part is great when I'm questioning myself, and then I'm like, "Yeah that part is great! I'm gonna stick with my gut." So it's things like that, they give me confidence in my own vision and craft.
You know one of the highlights of the show, and I don't want to give anything away, but in the Masquarade scene you have a very... interesting costume.