With a career that includes martial art training, modeling, and hanging with famous Hollywood celebrities, there’s no doubt that up-and-coming actor/film-maker Joey Ansah is living a lifestyle that many of his fans can only dream about. Trained in both Ninjutsu and Capoeira, he’s quickly become a hot commodity in the world of action films, and anyone who doubts his ability need only watch his famous scene (along with Matt Damon) in The Bourne Ultimatum.
But it hasn’t been his considerable – and growing – body of Hollywood films that’s gathered Ansah his greatest attention these days, as the 27-year old has recently discovered the viral power of matching another of his passions with the right community. His short-film, Street Fighter: Legacy, was a love letter to Capcom’s popular fighting videogame series, and, without question, its most accurate representation ever committed to film. Usually a notoriously fickle bunch, the gaming community responded with an almost unparalleled show of support for the project, and what better time to snag a few questions from him than now.
Now that you’ve been introduced, let’s kick things into gear with our official One-Quick Minute with Joey Ansah!
With Street Fighter: Legacy heating fans up, it’s obvious that you’re a fan of the series. Apart from the ‘cool factor’ of being able to play with live-action versions of our favorite World Warriors, did you create the film to prove the series is capable of being adapted to film?
Most definitely! If you are a true SF fan and have watched all the animes, read the Udon comics and followed the games, you’ll know there is a very cool, dark and epic narrative behind all the fighting. This is something that sadly isn’t that well known out side of hardcore fan circles. Before I die, or get too old I want to see breath taking live action series or film and I have a strong vision for just that. Adapting SF into liveaction is a real challenge because the character’s looks and moves are so larger than life…how do you successfully translate that to live action without losing the signature elements that fans love about the games? I believe you can be 90% faithful by creating a slightly hyper real dramatic world that viewers buy into. I hope the SFLegacy short/pilot showed that.
I’ve read that Capcom gave their blessings on the film, which is almost unheard of in the realm of fan-made productions. Any chance you’ll get to make another short film, or (dare we dream) perhaps a full-length feature that will help them make amends for two failed attempts so far?
Yeah I have developed good relations with Capcom, and my intentions were always to do a much larger project…..a series first. I decided to pull together the Legacy short production as almost a pilot to test fans/audience response and see if there was a market for my vision in live-action. The response couldn’t have been better, so I am definitely looking to take this further.
As someone who has only recently gotten into the fighting game craze (but rapidly catching up!), has Street Fighter IV reignited your love of the game or were you keeping the flame alive throughout the long ten year drought?
I have played the SF franchise solidly from the original SFII up to alpha 2. I didn’t play alpha 3 much of the SFIII series because I had jumped over to Xmen vs SF and the Marvel vs Capcom games. I played MVC2 for about a decade until SF4 was released. It took some adjusting getting into SF4 and I still have a huge love/hate relationship about the game. Some aspects I hate, others I love. Christian Howard who played Ken in Legacy is my house mate and we play SSF4 daily we both get so frustrated and are cursing the house down, but are utterly addicted and can’t stop playing. The SF4 series is Very addictive and that is the sign of a great game I guess.
Because we need to know (we really do), who has been your character-of-choice in the whole series so far? Any tips for aspiring would-be champions out there who might be reading this?
Good question, I can play SF to a high level with a lot of characters. Ryu, Guile and Akuma I’d say I use the most, but online on SSF4 I do best with Guile. As for tips, I’d say its not enough to learn every combo in the training mode. You can be a lethal player at SF using a fairly simple selection of techniques, if you use you head like a boxer and use great strategy. Playing SF can very much be like a game of chess when fighting an equally crafty opponent. Learn to force your opponent into making moves which you are ready to counter for example, make them play your game. The Focus dash cancel in the SF4 series is a great tool for faking and suckering people into making mistakes.
So what’s next for Joey Ansah that we can look forward to? Apart from further nods to the gaming community, when can we look forward to seeing you on the big screen again?
We’ll since Bourne Ultimatum I’ve been keeping very busy. Action is something so dear to me, that I have reluctant to do action films unless they are gonna be of a certain quality or I have significant control. I still train my ass off and am ready when the right projects come along to make more onscreen action history like in Bourne. However, I’ve focused more on straight drama as an actor and developing and launching myself as a film maker, for the most part. I’ve also being doing voice work for a huge video game, and mocap’ing a main character in another, alongside action directing and choreographing a Huge action movie in Bollywood, and producing, directing and acting in various shorts. I’m sharpening my skills and honing my craft, so expect some exciting projects with SFLegacy being the first I’m focusing on.
Good talking to you.
A big thank you is in order to Joey for taking one quick-minute to chat with us about what’s been happening in his life since unloading his passion project Street Fighter: Legacy into the mainstream, and for showing the multitude of fellow dreamers that anything is possible when you have enough faith – and love – for what you do. To keep up with Joey and his latest projects, check out his official website, which is filled with plenty of Street Fighter love, over at www.joeyansah.com.