The Wind Rises Cast Interviews

In his farewell animated featue writer/director Hayao Miyazaki brings together the engineer Jiro Horikoshi and the author Tatsuo Hori,  to create Jiro, a fictional character at the center of an epic tale of love, perseverance, and the challenges of living and making choices in a turbulent world.

Jiro dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni. Nearsighted from a young age and thus unable to become a pilot, he joins the aircraft division of a major Japanese engineering company in 1927. His genius is soon recognized, and he grows to become one of the world’s most accomplished airplane designers.

The Wind Rises chronicles much of Jiro’s life, and depicts key historical events that affected deeply the course of his life, including The Great Kanto earthquake of 1923, The Great depression, the tuberculosis epidemic, and Japan’s plunge into war. He meets and falls in love with Nahoko, grows and cherishes his friendship with his colleague Honjo, and innovates tremendously, leading the world of aviation into the future.

Check out a full selecition of interview below with the film’s American voice cast including Joseph Gordon Levitt, Emily Blunt and Stanly Tucci:


On Hayao Miyazaki and taking on the role

I love really good movies and Miyazaki is clearly one of the living masters of filmmaking.  I’ve been a fan of his movies for a number of years and so when I got the call that I had the opportunity to do a voice in the English version, I jumped at the chance. I feel like when I watch his movies, like Spirited Away for example or Princess Mononoke, you just get that feeling when you remember what it’s like to be 4 years old, when the world is a magical place. Everything is wondrous and he sort of invites you in to see that way again.

On the story of The Wind Rises

Ultimately it is a story of a guy who leads a special life in some ways, but he’s not going off and meeting dragons or flying pigs or anything like that. He has a job he takes very seriously, he loves it and it’s an exciting job; he designs airplanes.  And he has his friends and his colleagues and his love and the things that we all have or hope to have in our lives.  But, the way that he sees them, whether it’s in waking life or especially in his dreams, because you spend quite a lot of time in his dreams in this movie.  I love that perspective on being a human being.

On Jiro as a character

You see the character in various moments in the movie appreciating not only airplanes but he has appreciation for poetry. He has an appreciation for music and I love a guy like that.  He’s not a vein person, he is not a flamboyant person, or someone who is really, you know, very decorative about himself but when it comes to the planes that he designs, he has such care and love for making them beautiful.

On the presentation of the love story between Jiro and Nahoko

I really like the love story in this movie because it feels real. And even though it has its moments… in fact, let me put it this this way, the whole thing feels achingly beautiful but if you examine it, it is not so much larger than life. It is just sort of a matter of perspective; at the way Miyazaki looks at things. It’s sort of these normal moments, like walking through the rain and the umbrella is leaking and we are both soaking wet. You could look at that as sort of a dull and annoying issue to deal with, or if you are Miyazaki, you could make a scene that’s just jaw-droppingly beautiful.

On the character of Caproni

Jiro really looks up to this famous aeronautical engineer, this very larger than life Italian guy, Caproni.  In our version of the movie he is voiced by Stanley Tucci, who is an actor that I very much look up to and have always admired.  We all dream of getting to speak with and converse with our idols or mentors.  I guess he is not even necessarily a mentor because he never meets him, but he becomes sort of a mentor because his work has such an impact on Jiro.

On Emily Blunt voicing Nahoko

Emily is really good in this movie, because she’s got both the ability to be very heartfelt but she is also very technically adept, and that’s what this process takes. Because you are going line by line and trying to fit a very limited amount of time that matches to the Japanese, it’s a very technical process. But you don’t want that technical aspect to swallow up the feelings. And she is really able to find that balance, so I think she has been perfect for it.

On The Wind Rises and Miyazaki’s past films

It’s different than the other movies of his I have seen before, because it’s a little more grounded in a human story, and the movies I know of his are sort of the kind of magic that has fantastical creatures and just bizarre things you’d never see in real life.  Whereas this is a very grounded story of real life but told with that same perspective of magic.

On the benefits of English Language version

I think what’s cool for English speakers, someone like me who doesn’t speak Japanese, about watching our version of the movie is that you don’t have to read.  And generally, like I say, I don’t mind reading subtitles, but Miyazaki’s movies are so visual, there is so much to look at, there are so many little details and every little thing in the frame.  If there is a scene of a crowd of people and you see 20 characters, every single one of those 20 people are going to have an interesting little moment on.  There are so many great little visual morsels to chew on, that it’s sort of a shame to be reading subtitles. So in that sense, I think it’s worth seeing the movie even if it’s not in its original language.

On The Wind Rises as a piece of art

Sometimes when I go to the movies I want to laugh and sometimes when I go I want to see something that gets me pumped up, but sometimes I just want to see something beautiful.  And this movie, and I am not exaggerating, is about as beautiful a movie as I have ever seen in my life. Miyazaki says it is his last movie and this guy is clearly one of the great masters ever in cinema.  And, this is a masterpiece.


On taking on the role

To be a part of any visionary genius like Miyazaki’s movies is very exciting, but to be a part of what is said to be is his farewell film makes it all the more exciting and important when you get that call. So it was a very easy ‘yes’!

On Miyazaki’s films as art forms

I had seen Spirited Away and Ponyo, which I think were the biggest hits over here.  I was just struck by the richness of it visually.  There seems to be a lot of heart that’s gone into the hand-drawn animation in comparison to a lot of the animation you see today.  I think his themes are so interesting because there is a fantastical element to what he does but there’s a complexity in the humanity that he clings to as well.  Most of my friends’ kids have been watchingPonyo and Spirited Away; those are the films that kids are drawn to and I think that’s a huge sign. I think it speaks to a certain emotionality in them and a certain wonder, that kids are drawn to them.

On the story of The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises takes place in Japan, over a couple of decades, over both Wars really. It starts around 1918 and finishes at the end of the war, around 1945. And it follows Jiro, the hero of the piece, who is an aspiring young pilot but his near-sightedness makes it impossible for him to pursue that career. So he embarks on a career to become one of Japan’s top aircraft designers. You follow him through his life’s journey as he meets the love of his life, as he meets in these dream-like sequences his imaginary muse in this Italian aircraft designer Caproni, played by my brother-in-law, Stanley Tucci, and his friend Honjo, played by my husband, John Krasinski, so it’s a family affair, you see.

On the character of Nahoko

I play Nahoko, who is Jiro’s somewhat tragic love interest. She represents a certain purity and I think she really embodies the theme of this movie, which is that you want to dream for a better world tomorrow. She has a frankness and a positivity, which I think that comes with the fact that she knows that she hasn’t got long.  She’s got Tuberculosis and she falls in love with Jiro and they have this beautiful romance, a really incredible passionate romance.  They really only have a couple of years together but I think she is a huge inspiration to him.

On Jiro and Nahoko’s relationship

The two of them meet in 1923 on a train.  They’ve both got their heads out the window and his hat flies off and she catches it for him; that’s their first encounter.  They have a couple of humorous exchanges and they obviously catch each other’s eye and then the earthquake hits, the great Kanto earthquake that took place in 1923, and Jiro shows his heroic prowess by saving her nanny Kinu.  It’s an encounter that takes a real hold on Nahoko.  She doesn’t forget him for ten years when they meet again in this resort in the mountains and something similar happens; her parasol gets swept up by the wind and the wind rises and takes the parasol away and he catches it. So I just loved that theme that they meet every time the wind is rising and something incredible happens in those moments.

On Joseph Gordon-Levitt voicing Jiro

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Jiro.  I have worked with Joe before and I know now exactly why you would want to pick him for this role. There is a sort of buoyancy and a youth to Joe and he is someone who thinks outside the box and carves out a new space for himself, all the time. And so he’s got the right spiriting character to play someone as inventive and entrepreneurial as Jiro.

On Caproni as an inspiration to Jiro

The dream sequences include Jiro’s encounters with this very inspiring, imaginary muse, in the form of Mr. Caproni, who was an Italian aircraft designer.  Really, Mr. Caproni is the ultimate muse for Jiro and I feel that through these encounters, Jiro’s genius is actually unlocked.  He is very much emboldened by these encounters.

On voicing The Wind Rises

This one is a little more challenging because you are adapting to a character that’s already there.  I have done animated movies before but you record the voice and then they match to you.  So this is kind of like ADR to an already-there animated character.  But what I found really thrilling about it and more helpful than usual is that you get a real sense of what the scene is asking of you. And so I actually, I ended up finding it a lot easier in some ways, because you get a sense of what film you are in.

On the message behind The Wind Rises

I think the main idea you come away from is we must live, we must live and we must think for oneself and be emboldened by the dreams that we have and overcome our losses and accomplishments. It feels like that there is some resolution to it. And I think that’s why the message speaks strongly to me, in the sense that this is his [Miyazaki’s] last film.

On how The Wind Rises might be received

I think this is an incredibly emotional film. I think people are going to literally feel like they are being lifted up by the wind, because there is something very rousing about it and the ideas in it. And so I think, more than anything, you are going to be swept away by how emotional it makes you feel.


On taking on the role

I wanted to be a part of this film for many, many reasons.  One of which is, as an actor, to play a part like this is really fun.  But really, the main reason I think most of us would be a part of a movie like this, is that he [Miyazaki] is just the highest level of the definition of artist. I think that animation now is such an incredible medium, there’s so much going on, but there is no one doing animation quite like him. It’s more like a moving Renoir painting or something. So to me, he’s been so inspiring and his films have been so inspiring, that it’s one of those things that as soon as they called me about this, before they had even finished with the title of the movie, I was like: “Yes!”

On the story of The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises is about a lot of things, but mostly it’s about a character named Jiro.  I play Honjo, who is his good friend, and they are both engineers who design aircraft. But from a young age there was this obsession/connection to flight and aircraft that Jiro had.  Then when he meets Honjo later in his life, they both have this same love but there is something very, very special about Jiro’s connection to aircraft. That is basically the story that’s sort of pulling you through the main meat of the movie, but on the side of it is all this stuff that’s happening in Japan.

On Airplane design

I think at the time, flight was such an incredibly enigmatic thing.  People had just discovered it, people were finding new things happening in the world of plane design as it happened, like flushed rivets and things like that, that were really blowing people’s minds.  The idea that passengers could be taken on airplanes was a huge deal back then. It was something that would never have been imagined.  They had passages in the wings, you could actually walk down the hallways in the wings and sit on these sort of observation decks as it flew.  It was more of an exciting ride than it was anything practical.  So, I think back then, it’s so easy to see why people like Honjo and Jiro would be so enamored with the idea of designing planes.

On Joseph Gordon-Levitt voicing Jiro

I think Joe is one of the best actors working, period.  There are many reasons why, but one is that he is pretty fearless and does things on his own terms and in the way he wants to do them.  Even if you didn’t know that, watching the movie it comes off the screen. I think that his confidence in what he does and his willingness to try new things and do new things – he has never allowed any movie or group of people to push him to do a certain character and repeat that character, he is always trying to reinvent himself – that sort of courage is really something that is very reminiscent of the 70s actors and movies.  That sort of flag flying is very rarely done anymore. So I think, he is one of our greats that is keeping that sort of flag alive.

On his connection with Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci

This is a family affair.  It’s like the von Trapp family doing a movie together.  I did this movie with my wife, which was awesome.  I was there when she was offered the part – I was offered the part first – and that was really exciting and it’s fun to do anything together.  It’s definitely the first thing we have done together, so that’s really interesting. Although, it still leaves room for a live action thing that we actually act with each other. But on top of that, Stanley Tucci was in the movie, he is now my new brother-in-law, which is still totally bizarre and hard to process because I am a fan of his in every single way.

On Miyazaki’s films as an art form

Miyazaki’s animation is more like a moving painting, there is something very visceral and emotional that you see in his work versus other work.  I think there are many, many reasons for that but one of the reasons is that I think you do see the human work that went into it. So there are tiny flaws there, it feels a lot more raw in a way that you can connect to. It’s actually an aesthetic that I think makes you feel a very specific way that you wouldn’t feel in other animations.  I think that sometimes animation is just a really high-definition photo that makes you feel one way in comparison to a shot on a 1950 photo does. There is an emotional connection that you have to an image, which I think is amazing.

On how Miyazaki allows his audience to relate to The Wind Rises

All of Miyazaki’s movies have this incredible ability to show you great hope with a huge layer of reality wrapped around it.  It’s not this fairy tale that is unattainable, he has this level of reality that is not always necessarily a happy moment but the characters will always experience things in a real way that will allow the audience to feel like they are going through something very similar. So to me, it’s such a great thing to do because it allows your audience to see themselves in the movie and its also makes it much more emotional.


On voicing animated films

I love doing animated films.  It’s fun because you don’t really have to wear make-up, stand out in the cold or go too far away from home. So it’s really fun.  And you get to play like you’re a kid again.  But I also looked at the film and found it so beautiful.  It was such an interesting story and I wanted to be involved in it.

On the story of The Wind Rises

It’s the struggle and journey of this young Japanese boy to realise his dreams of creating a beautiful, high-functioning aircraft and put Japan on the map. At this point, Japan was in the throes of a depression and they were very poor and didn’t have a lot of the technology available that other countries, like Germany or the US, had.  It’s his struggle to get to where he felt they could be and should be.

On the character of Caproni

Caproni is a very successful aeronautical engineer who comes to visit him in these dreams.  They even acknowledge the fact that Jiro is having the dream and that Caproni is visiting him.  He seems to come to him at times of crisis or times of need, when he has these dreams; when he is a young boy, when he is a young engineer.  Caproni sort of helps him through his life and gives him inspiration, these kind of little pearls of wisdom. But you also see Caproni’s failures as well as his successes.

On The Wind Rises as a family film

As a parent, it’s a great thing to know that there’s a movie you have participated in that you can take your kids to. That isn’t always the case. So that’s really nice.  And I think this genre is disappearing. So it’s nice to have participated in it and to just have it around.

On Miyazaki’s films as art forms

Certainly there is something nostalgic about it – we are not going to see this for much longer.  It’s going to be a rare person that’s going to make an attempt like this again.  There is something really moving about it, you feel the person’s hand in it.  I always think that’s kind of interesting. I think we rely on technology maybe a little bit too much.

On the story’s appeal outside Japan

It’s a fascinating story that I think Americans don’t know. Particularly since it’s about somebody who invented what ended up being a very destructive machine, the reason he did it and how he never wanted it to be what it ended up being. And how it changed the world and how it changed his life. It’s a very unusual story.

On the message behind The Wind Rises

You can realise your dreams but you are not always in control of it; that’s a really interesting message.


On The Wind Rises 

When I saw The Wind Rises, just a couple of days ago, it’s different.  First of all, it’s stunningly beautiful and I think he draws a lot of it himself.  It is gloriously old-fashioned in the storytelling, he takes his time to unfold the story. It’s shamelessly romantic, it gets really exciting sometimes and yet it’s not razzle-dazzle.  It’s really lyrical and it’s a stunning story to tell, especially to come out of Japan, and it caught me unawares. It’s about this designer who designs the Japanese Zero, the fighter plane, which is one of the finest airplanes ever built in the history of mankind.  And to see that story, from this point of view, I found eye opening.

On the story of The Wind Rises

It’s about this young man Jiro, who dreams of being an aeronautical engineer and meets the girl of his dreams during a ferocious earthquake in Tokyo.  He saves her life and it’s that kind of wonderful love story where they loose each other and gain each other again.

On the character of Satomi

I play Satomi, who is Nahoko’s father.  I know she has consumption and I am conflicted, as any father is, about her meeting a boy.  But I want what’s best for her. It’s a sweet story.

On Joseph Gordon-Levitt voicing Jiro

Mr. Levitt has a nice voice, I can hear it, I can see that that would be good. I like that he is dry, I love what he has done with his career.  He was very young when he started making films and he has done this great transition to being this hunk.  It’s really good what he has done, I really appreciate his acting.

On Miyazaki’s films and CGI

We become so accustomed to this CGI version, that I think it is really easy to loose the beauty of the hand-drawn image, and they are different. You can tell, right away. And there is something about it that puts you at peace.

On Miyazaki as the story-teller

When you watch this film, you can tell that he told his story his way. I don’t know much about this, but I know that he knew these people, or his father knew these people.  His father was an engineer as I understand it, and this has all the earmarks of the guy that said, ‘I paid the dues, this is what we are going to do, exactly the way I want to do it’.

On how The Wind Rises will be received by audiences

The first twenty minutes are going to knock your socks off.  I was immediately captured. It’s so different for us, it’s so gorgeous.  There is very little dialogue at the beginning but beautiful sound, exquisite sound, and then off it goes on this great walloping tale.  Both a tale of discovery and of war and of great human movements and also a really great love story, a real heartbreaker.

One Response to “The Wind Rises Cast Interviews”
  1. Tom says:

    I love this film.
    Reading the actors comments and feelings about it really reflect mine. It’s just I do not have the power/ability to express them in such beautifully accurate words.
    So many people can be upset due to what Jiro is doing against the US in war. Obviously, that is true but I think the film reflects more Jiro’s desire to create beautiful airplanes. He cannot what and how his government will be using them.
    And the fact that he has two loves, one for his goal of creating beautiful aircraft and second for Nahoko is truly a human story and told in an exquisite beautiful way.

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