Dead Boy Detectives : Exclusive Interview with Actress Yuyu Kitamura

Dead Boy Detectives : Exclusive Interview with Actress Yuyu Kitamura

DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Yuyu Kitamura as Niko Sasaki in episode 3 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

Dead Boy Detectives : Two teenage ghosts work alongside a clairvoyant to solve mysteries for their supernatural clientele, until a powerful witch complicates their plans.

Executive Producer : Steve Yockey, Beth Schwartz, Jeremy Carver, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Leigh London Redman, Neil Gaiman, Lee Toland Krieger

Network : Netflix

Rating : TV-MA

Genre : Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Thriller, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, LGBTQ+

Original Language : English

Release Date : Apr 25, 2024

Dead Boy Detective

Yuyu Kitamura,©Courtesy of Netflix

Exclusive Interview with Actress Yuyu Kitamura


Q: What’s it like stepping into Neil Gaiman’s creation of his world? Did you read the original comic prior to that or did you just start with the script to join the show? 

Yuyu Kitamura: I knew about Neil Gaiman because I had studied one of his graphic novels in the Sandman series in high school. We studied his text. I remember thinking, oh my gosh, this is really intense. I didn’t know graphic novels could be so intense and very much philosophical. Now it feels like it’s a full circle moment where the first project that I’m in is part of the Neil Gaiman universe. I read “Dead Boy Detectives” for context and homework, but my character Niko doesn’t exist in the comic books. It really was a creation and a collaboration as well with Steve Yockey, who is our showrunner, and myself. We really discussed who Niko was and what she brings to this group.

Q: What’s engaging about this show is that each episode has such a different twist, backstory and new, engaging characters. How different was it for you while you were on the set and when you saw the final product? It seems like it gives so much information on the screen here. 

Yuyu Kitamura: Of course it was so very different. Our scripts are so good. The writing really speaks for itself, but there’s only so much that I could even begin to imagine because our show is such a wonderful, larger-than-life type of universe. We deal with life, death and the afterlife, but we also have talking cats, large eyeballs in the sky and really mean sprites that live in a jar! When you’re acting and working on set, you don’t see that. So getting to watch the episodes was such a blast because it was more than I could have imagined.

Q: Your character Niko has an initial connection to Crystal due to her presence. How did you create a bond with Kassius Nelson (who plays Crystal)? You seem to have really good chemistry on the show.

Yuyu Kitamura: Kassius is so lovely. It really felt organic because Niko meets Crystal as her neighbor. They don’t know each other but throughout their journey and time during the season, they become really good friends. You see the importance of these two young women [not only] going through their own personal struggles, but also in helping the detective agency. It was very much like that. I got to meet her on the show and we spent time together. It really felt like an organic friendship in that we relied on each other, but that we also had fun.

Dead Boy Detectives 2

DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. (L to R) George Rexstrew as Edwin Payne, Joshua Colley as Monty and Yuyu Kitamura as Niko Sasaki in episode 3 of DEAD BOY DETECTIVES. Cr. Ed Araquel/Netflix © 2023

Q: Niko wears very cute slippers on her feet and has posters in her room. She’s someone who gets into this fantasy world, like it’s an escape from a tough reality. Were there any elements that you could relate to Niko’s character? 

Yuyu Kitamura: Of course I could relate to so many of her struggles. The wonderful thing about Niko is that she knows herself, who she is. She loves anime. She loves a very Harajuku vibe of fashion. She loves to play, but I think she struggles with letting people see her for who she is and even with her sense of loneliness, she wants a friend, a group [to belong to]. Throughout the journey that she goes on, she finds bravery and is able to push herself to really put her life on the line for her friends. [She] goes on this incredible journey where she solves cases with them.

There’s a sense of loneliness, but also a fear of letting other people who she is — that’s something I related to. Going into such a new experience and meeting the cast for the first time, I connected with the idea that I was also looking for my detective agency in all of this. I wanted to find people that I could champion and support, but I also wanted to find people who would do the same for me. So I think that feeling and struggle that Niko goes through is something that I was able to connect with.

Q: You previously made a short film called “Invite In.” How did that directing experience help your acting? Did it help you see from another perspective?

Yuyu Kitamura: I loved making my own short film. It was a really formative experience for me because you realize how difficult the process is. Being on the other side was not only an educational experience, but it was also one for me where I got to put on many different hats and see how a director and producer worked. I understood that the whole process of filmmaking is so collaborative.

As an actor, sometimes you’re the last person to hear [about] anything. Getting to do all the other parts as well, to rely on people and have people do their best as well was such a wonderful experience for me to learn from. So then, going into a show like this, I had a sense of the idea, but obviously our show is [done] on such a larger scale.  It now made me realize, oh, maybe, I do want to be a director or a producer one day.

Q: Edwin (played by George Rexstrew) and Charles (played by Jayden Revri) were a dynamic duo whose comedic timing is very uncanny. What did you think of their performance and how did you interact with them on the set? 

Yuyu Kitamura: Oh, I love these boys. I love everybody on our show. They get into so much trouble, those two, because, in a sense,  they really are best friends. Our show randomly found them and cast these two boys together. But you could tell from the moment that they met that there was this amazing chemistry between them. So getting to work with them and getting to know them — and call them friends — is an experience that I think is so rare. I feel very grateful that this is a show that we have created together.

Q: You mentioned that you had read the graphic novel during your school days. At what point did you want to be an actor? Was there a triggering event that made you want to become an actress? 

Yuyu Kitamura: I don’t have this one “aha” moment. But whenever I was acting, it brought me so much joy. The whole process of it was something that my parents always supported.  It was really important for me that they believed that I could do it. I also felt very fortunate that I found something that I very much loved to do from a young age.  Getting to even talk to you and have this whole experience, is something that I don’t believe is [really] my life!  I am very grateful that I found something that I love to do and work hard for it.

Q: If there is a cult following for some of the show’s characters in the future, what do you want the audience to take away from this show?

Yuyu Kitamura: I love that our show is so unique, diverse and colorful. It’s such a modern interpretation of what comic book culture is. The fact that every character has their own story and journey really feels like it’s a “choose your own fighter” kind of show. I’m excited to see who audiences will resonate with and what friendships they connect to. They are all these Easter eggs that we have on the show as well. I think our show is about acceptance, friendship and finding your chosen family. I hope that audiences get to enjoy all the crazy adventures we go on, but also know that we are more than enough so that everybody can exist as they are.

Check out more of Nobuhiro’s articles.

Here’s the trailer of the series. 

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