With the new feature film Prom Pact having released on Disney Channel and Disney+ in March, Jason Sakaki plays the role of Charles alongside a cast including Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Milo Manheim, Blake Draper and Arica Himmel, which saw him attend the premiere earlier this year. Jason is currently playing Lester in AMC’s new black comedy television series Lucky Hank, and he booked the role of Isaac Kimura in the 2022 Netflix series Devil in Ohio for his first recurring character. Previous screen projects for Jason have included the Paramount+ original movie Honor Society as Brad, and the Disney XD series MECH-X4 as Jimmy Wilson. Also a stage actor, Jason has performed in most of the major theatres in Vancouver, having recently finished a run in Jersey Boys as Bob Gaudio, and he is currently working on Beautiful – The Carole King Musical. We recently caught up with Jason about playing Charles in Prom Pact, being in the cast of comedy series Lucky Hank and his first recurring character of Isaac Kimura in Devil in Ohio.
You play Charles in the new Disney film Prom Pact, can you tell us about the character and what is he like to play?
Charles is a bright, driven, drum-line all star who’s part of Mandy and Ben’s inner circle. He’s always wearing something fabulous, and he’s never understated. I loved playing Charles, and we’re similar in a lot of ways. We definitely have the same vocabulary. It was nice to play a less traditionally masculine character, especially in a movie that younger audiences would be watching. I think representation is important across the board, and something this movie does really well. I’ve gotten some really touching messages from people who identify as the “Charles” of their friend groups.
What was it like working with the rest of the cast, which includes Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Milo Manheim and Blake Draper and what did you enjoy most about being on set of the film?
This is an all-star cast. We really lucked out with the people we got for this movie. Peyton and Milo are huge Disney stars, and Blake is absolutely going to be the next big thing. I grew really close with Arica Himmel, who plays Zenobia, my best friend, in the movie. We did a lot of exploring Vancouver while we were shooting. The best part about being on set was our crew. I loved getting to see Clark Mathis, our director of photography, work his magic. If I wasn’t an actor, I’d want to be a camera op, so it was really neat to see someone at the top of their game do their thing.
How did you feel watching the completed film and how did you find the experience attending the premiere?
I don’t think I breathed the entire time at the premiere. It’s a nerve-racking thing to put a project out into the world, but the premiere was nothing short of Disney magic. It was so lovely to catch up with the cast and producers again, and the best part was hearing the laughs. When you’re shooting a movie, you deliver a joke and the whole set is silent. You feel like, “Is this funny at all?”, and then a year later you discover if it was funny or not.
Why would you recommend watching Prom Pact and who do you think it will appeal to?
I think Prom Pact is for everyone, to be honest. It’s got so many tropes of your favourite romcoms, but also presents some new and modern ideas to give the romcom a fresh take. It’s a fun and heartwarming film, I often describe it as my new “comfort film”. Whether you’re a pre-teen and loved watching Disney Channel, or a full grown adult who was a teen in the 80s, I think this film will appeal.
In AMC’s new black comedy television series Lucky Hank, you can be seen in numerous episodes as Lester, what was the series like to work on?
A dream come true. I’m a huge fan of The Office, so working on a show that Paul Lieberstein co-created was already a major selling point. Then finding out Bob Odenkirk was going to star in it – I was in heaven. Watching him work, and getting to play in scenes with him, will always be a treasured memory. There’s a lot of great stuff in store for the show, and hope we’ll get to see a few more seasons of Hank.
How was it reading the Lucky Hank script for the first time and was there anything that drew you to the role?
I’m definitely drawn to the wackier roles, and Lester fit into that category perfectly. The script is solid, and the show itself is different than a lot of comedies on TV right now. It focuses on the absurdity of academia, but remains quite grounded, which I think is a tricky balance that they are doing a fantastic job of threading.
What are some of your favourite memories from filming as Isaac Kimura in Devil in Ohio for Netflix?
I spent my birthday on set, and it was also my last day of shooting. That day we shot the Harvest Dance sequences. Everyone was in prom dresses and tuxes, and it was just filled with dancing and great hangs. It was also cool to see that the majority of the show was Vancouver actors. I feel particularly proud of the talent in this city, and it’s always nice to see that talent represented on big shows like Devil.
How would you describe your character Isaac and do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the role for your first recurring screen character?
It was huge for me to play a queer Asian character. That was something that for a long time I thought wasn’t an option. We really don’t have a lot of representation, and within the queer community, Asians are rarely at the forefront. So it was really important and meaningful. The summer that I booked it, I was working seven days a week in two different jobs just to barely get by. I bawled my eyes out, I called my family. That show changed my life.
What was it like playing Brad in the Paramount+ film Honor Society?
We had way too much fun on this movie. The fun always comes from the top. Oran Zegman, our director, led with such passion and joy. Our cast was unbelievable, and all of them are off doing amazing series and movies and Broadway shows. I’m really proud to have worked with all of them.
What do you remember most from your first screen role as Jimmy Wilson in the DisneyXD series MECH-X4?
At that point I had been auditioning for two years without booking any television, so it was such a huge moment for me as a teen. Learning that I was going to have to stick it out to see any results from my career. I didn’t book my first recurring role until I was like six years in. I think that’s something that every emerging actor should know. Success doesn’t necessarily come right away, and isn’t always linear. It’s important to stick it out and keep improving yourself.
We understand you have also worked on stage, can you tell us about some of the shows you’ve been part of?
I’ve played in most of the major theatres in Vancouver, and theatre has always been my home. I just finished playing Bob Gaudio, one of the Four Seasons in Jersey Boys. I’ve done two years of playing Rolf in The Sound of Music, and I’m about to start doing Beautiful – The Carole King Musical in Vancouver.
Do you have a favourite aspect of performing in theatre and how different do you find it to screen work?
My favourite thing about theatre is how alive it is. Every night feels drastically different, and you’re always kept on your toes. I’ve always loved doing comedies, and it’s nice to hear an immediate response to the joke you just delivered. Theatre is so different than film. We have one shot in theatre, in film there’s a lot less pressure to get it right the first time. The thing I stress out about with film is the immortalisation of that performance, not having control of what take they choose and how you are portrayed. I like being able to (mostly) control that in theatre.
How did you get into acting and was it something you always wanted to do?
I actually thought I was going to go to the Olympics for gymnastics. I trained basically full-time in gymnastics and ultimately broke my femur doing a High Bar routine. That was the end of my sports career, and my mom put me in a musical theatre class. I always loved singing and performing, but never thought it was a viable career path. Thankfully, I was so wrong. I got a talent agent at 14 years old, and the rest was history.
What are some of your favourite films, TV and theatre shows to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I try and consume as much theatre as I can in Vancouver. I get to New York once or twice a year. I was there last May and saw like, 13 or 14 shows. My favourites were A Strange Loop and Company. I’m such a sucker for a romcom, specifically early 2000s romcoms. That was a huge draw for doing Prom Pact. When I first read it, I was like “this feel like an Amanda Bynes movie” and so it was an immediate yes.
Do you have any projects coming up that you can tell us about and what are you hoping 2023 brings for you?
Lucky Hank is still airing new episodes, which come out on Sundays on AMC! I have a movie called Starwalker coming up, which is a big, beautiful drag musical film that will premiere hopefully within a year. My hope for 2023 is some musical projects. I would love to marry my worlds of musical theatre and film. I’d love to be back at Disney again because they were wonderful. Hopefully a second season of Lucky Hank? Who knows. The big thing is, I’m really happy with where my career is at right now. Everything else is just the cherry on top.
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