Mackenyu Opens Up About the Mega Launch of Knights of the Zodiac

May 12, 2023

It takes a lot of fierce determination to give birth to a new franchise, but Sony Pictures seems up for the behemoth task with Knights of the Zodiac. The bold live-action adaptation of the Saint Seiya manga, plucked from the popular television anime series and comics, comes from Polish director/producer Tomasz Baginski (The Witcher: Blood Origin) and stars Mackenyu (Pacific Rim: Uprising) as Seiya, a street orphan who realizes he must protect Sienna (Madison Iseman of TV’s I Know What You Did Last Summer), a girl suddenly inhabited by Athena, the goddess of war. Saving the world is definitely on the agenda — big time — but Seiya must face his own past and become a Knight of the Zodiac.

The compelling cast also includes Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings), Famke Janssen (X-Men, Taken), Nick Stahl (Fear the Walking Dead), Diego Tinoco (On My Block), and Mark Dacascos (John Wick: Parabellum).

Written by 10 Cloverfield Lane writers Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken, and Kiel Murray (Raya and the Last Dragon), the cosmic-powered film is loaded with special effects and high-stakes action. Mackenyu shared more about the film in this exclusive MovieWeb interview.

Launching a Franchise That Sticks

There’s been buzz for some time about Sony Pictures joining forces with anime titan Toei to bring the tale of Seiya to the cineplex. “One thing that’s special about this project is that it’s from Japanese anime that’s going to be live-action in Hollywood. That doesn’t happen often,” shared Mackenyu. “It’s groundbreaking, and this has been an amazing opportunity for me. I was honored to be part of this.”

Mackenyu’s Seiya in the film is self-centered an often reckless. The sudden realization that he must protect Sienna turns his world upside down. To capture the right beats that the screenwriters created here, director Tomasz Baginski worked with laser-beam focus with the cast, especially Mackenyu.

“I was worried from even before I even stepped foot in Budapest, where the film was shot,” admitted Mackenyu. “But every time I spoke to Tomasz, he told me not to worry about it, that it would be okay. I did my best and I hope everyone likes it. There were definitely a lot of challenges for me, just to be playing a role in English, because I’m usually filming in Japan. But there was more joy than challenges, actually, and I had so much fun on set.”

Related: Best Anime Series That Deserve a Live-Action Movie Adaptation

One of those challenges was suiting up in armor — literally. The film depicts Seiya in an ornate armor suit that is signature to the character. “I would say that suit was 50 pounds, easy,” said Mackenyu. “We had to make it durable and flexible. We knew how much action there was going to be wearing the armor. They got me the best stuff, and it really worked.”

He also had extensive physical training before and during the shoot. “I had a trainer there for my body-making,” he added, “and with the armor, we had multiple sizes that was specific for me so it would perfectly. People may be surprised to see skinny Mackenyu turn into cut Mackenyu.”

Why There Is a Lot at Stake with Knights of the Zodiac

Sony Pictures

By all accounts, the source material for Knights of the Zodiac is filled with endless possibilities. Like Lord of the Rings and Dune before it, it would be impossible to capture everything in just one film outing. Sony is banking on the launch to capture audience’s interests. “This is an underdog story, and people love that. I love that. Watching this movie… it’s insane,” said Mackenyu. “But this is definitely the 2023 version of Saint Seiya, and there’s going to be new, great stuff on the big screen. It’s action-packed with a lot of visual effects, and hopefully fans will like it.”

Related: Knight of The Zodiac Movie: I Have No Mouth, Yet I Must Scream

When asked about what stood out about the director’s vision and the way he went about executing that, Mackenyu noted that it all revolved around keeping the heart of Saint Seiya while also being able to incorporate new things:

Bringing to life this new version, the most important part was to not lose the soul of Saint Seiya and what the fans like. I was excited as the fans, so, if there are sequels, I’m down. But this film is not just for the fans. It’s also a big deal for Japan, and to be able to represent the Japanese American community is an amazing opportunity for me. One of my goals is to open up those barriers in Japan, so that actors in Japan can come out to Hollywood. And I think this project would be a big first step to that future.

Knights of the Zodiac, from Sony Pictures, arrives in theaters May 12.

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