Find your own story, find what works for you, and be comfortable and accepting of what you bring to the table. — Clyde Kusatsu
I’m thrilled to welcome Clyde to the show: an actor who is currently celebrating 45 years in front of the camera, and he’s still booking roles! I first connected with Clyde back in 2008 when I was helping out Ned Vaughn and Unite for Strength in the pre-merger days of SAG-AFTRA.
Just a bit of what we cover:
- growing up in Hawaii amidst a rapidly developing culture and economy
- doing summer stock with musical theatre star Howard Keel
- being a “college working actor” at Northwestern
- his time with the East West Players theatre company in LA
- how he approaches auditions and what self-taping has taught him
- working with the legendary actor Toshiro Mifune, the John Wayne of Japanese film
This is a wide-ranging conversation across the years and Clyde is a master storyteller with lots of great anecdotes and lessons learned. He can easily weave in history or politics, and he’s quite a remarkable person.
Clyde Kusatsu has over 300 credits on IMDb, and just like Robert Pine in episode #1, he’s been on just about every iconic show from the 70s to today, including both the original and newer versions of Hawaii Five-O.
A quick look at his films include Midway, Turner & Hooch, In the Line of Fire, Paradise Road, American Pie, and Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. He’s also done an extensive amount of animated and voiceover roles.
He’s been very involved with SAG-AFTRA leadership and in 2013 he became the first elected President of the newly merged unions’ Los Angeles Local. He currently sits as the National Vice President Los Angeles for SAG-AFTRA. Clyde studied theatre at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
Please enjoy PART ONE of my chat with Clyde Kusatsu!
Total Running Time: 1:24:16
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as/save link as”.
Get the show delivered right to you!
QUESTION OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let us know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
This episode is brought to you Audible. As a listener of The Working Actor’s Journey podcast, Audible is offering you a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to check them out. You can get a book that’s one hour long or 15 hours long—doesn’t matter. Whatever you pick, it’s free.
I do have a recommendation with a fantastic narrator—if you want to hear an actor who is exceptional at this stuff, check this book out:
Ray is one of the greats, and has been named Audible’s Narrator of the Year. Don’t get thrown by the cover, it’s not a typical zombie book, which is not my kind of genre—the reviews sold me: people really enjoyed the story, but thought Ray was the true hero of this one. They loved him so much, they wished they could give him more than 5 stars. I honestly had to remind myself several times that it’s just him reading the books, and not a dozen different actors. I’ve also been lucky to work with Ray onstage and know what a great talent he is.
Here’s a clip from this book:
So you can choose the above book—which clocks in at 14+ hrs, and for me, flew by—or choose any of the endless options they offer. That could be a book, a newspaper, a magazine, or even a class. It’s that easy.
To download your free audiobook today go to workingactorsjourney.com/audible.
Clyde Kusatsu around the web
- What his parents did for work in Honolulu
- Growing up with prejudicial viewpoints towards Japanese-American citizens
- Asking his parents to take tap dance lessons
- Enjoying big band and jazz music as a kid
- The complete cultural flip of 1966-67
- Hopping around projects after college until he landed in LA
- His first break getting cast in Kung Fu, and working on the show multiple times
- How a director gave him a lesson in how film works
- His path into doing voiceover/animation work
- The willingness and drive to keep your body/mind/voice in shape
- How to break out of niches and do everything
- The skills he learned by self-taping his auditions
- His approach for auditions, how he approaches the initial read-through
- Keeping your attitude and pride down when auditioning
- How he did research for his character of Watanabe in Midway
- Understudying for Mako at East West Players, and how that led to a film
Selected People and Items Mentioned
- What Would Diplo Do with James Van Der Beek
- Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, actors
- Howard Keel, actor
- Northwestern Theatre program
- Original Hawaii 5-0 show
- The Troupe of American College Players (now Rocky Mountain Rep)
- Mako, actor
- East West Players Theatre
- Robert Butler, director
- Hill Street Blues
- Richard Lang, director
- ADR/dialogue replacement and Walla – voiceover acting
- Jerry Rice, football player
- Jason Isaacs, actor
- Midway film with Toshiro Mifune
- Toshiro Mifune, Japanese actor
- Hok Sai, Japanese painter
- The Challenge, directed by John Frankenheimer
- Paradise Road film with Glenn Close, Frances McDormand, Julianna Margulies, and Cate Blanchett (her first film!)
Want a quick look at Clyde’s 45 year career?
His son Kevin surprised his dad with this retrospective as a birthday gift!
Production Photos from Clyde’s Collection
(He references all three of these projects in the interview.)
Copy and share: bit.ly/waj-clyde-p1