Directed by Jon S. Baird, Apple TV+’s biographical film ‘Tetris’ revolves around Henk Rogers, who buys the Japanese rights to a Russian game titled Tetris. He strikes a deal with Nintendo to expand the game’s availability all over the world through the company’s new product, “Game Boy.” To garner the handheld rights to the game, Henk leaves for Moscow to meet Soviet Union officials, which threatens his and his family’s lives. Taron Egerton, who plays Elton John in ‘Rocketman,’ plays Henk in the film. Since Henk speaks to his wife and children in Japanese, the viewers must be wondering whether the actor had learned the language for portraying the character. Well, let us provide the answer!
Did Taron Egerton Learn Japanese for Tetris?
Taron Egerton did learn Japanese for playing Henk Rogers in ‘Tetris.’ However, the actor didn’t have to learn the language extensively to play the character since Henk doesn’t know the language perfectly. In the film, Henk mostly speaks to his wife Akemi Rogers, and their children, including Maya Rogers, in English. Then he starts to speak Japanese as a new learner. Thus, Egerton didn’t have to capture the nuances of the language in depth since his character didn’t speak the same efficiently. “As for the snapshots of Japanese that I was required to do, it’s written in the script that they are a little bit ropey,” Egerton told Screen Rant.
Regardless, Egerton did enjoy the process of learning Japanese. Since the actor was open and excited about learning a new language, it benefitted his portrayal of Henk greatly. “It was really fun to do. I’d actually really like to learn another language. It’s something I’d like to do. Whenever I have dipped a toe in the water of linguistics, I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s not something I’ve done a lot of, not since I was very young,” Egerton added. Although Egerton’s Henk doesn’t speak Japanese throughout the film, he speaks in one of the closing scenes as Henk apologizes to his daughter Maya for missing her performance. The actor’s commitment to learning the language did enhance the scene’s quality.
The performers who play Henk’s family members, however, spoke fluent Japanese. Egerton didn’t succeed in understanding them on all occasions. Since Henk doesn’t know Japanese well enough, Egerton’s lack of understanding only made his performance better. “The kids I was working with in those scenes speak perfect English, but they do also speak Japanese. The same is true of Ayane [Nagabuchi], who played my wife, so I was the one who didn’t really have a clue what was going on. But that’s appropriate for the scene because Henk is depicted as being a little behind the curve when it comes to his family,” the actor said in the same Screen Rant interview.
Learning a new language has become an integral part of the art of acting, especially while playing international characters. Meryl Streep learned Polish and German languages, including a Polish accent, to play Zofia “Sophie” Zawistowski in ‘Sophie’s Choice,’ for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress. For ‘The Godfather Part II,’ Robert De Niro learned Italian with a Sicilian dialect to play Vito Corleone. Michelle Yeoh learned Mandarin to play Yu Shu Lien in Ang Lee’s Academy Award-winning film ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.’
Read More: Is Tetris Based on a True Story?