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star struck

Oceans apart
George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon bring their comedy act to Japan
By Chris Betros

Chris Betros

Watching George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt
Damon fool around during their promotion for Ocean’s Twelve was like watching a comedy act. The three clowned around the whole time during their recent 24-hour visit to Japan. It was probably the best way they could think of to deflate media hype over the news that Pitt had separated from his wife Jennifer Aniston. Not that they took any chances. The Pitt camp had sent word from the US that foreign-based media were not to be admitted to the press conferences. When they arrived at Narita aboard a private jet, one reporter tried to question Pitt, 41, about it, but Clooney cut in with a “Shame on you.”

Later on, Clooney, 43, got the ball rolling. “I know that there has been a certain topic on everyone’s lips for the past few days, and you all want to know about it, so I am happy to tell you that my neck is all right,” he said (he was wearing a neck brace after an injury last November).

The bantering among the trio was very much how it was on the set, said Pitt, popularly known in Japan as “Burapi.” “It was great fun and it’s a blessing there was a movie out of it all.” Damon, 34, said he never even bothered to read the script. “I just showed up after finishing The Bourne Supremacy,” he said. All three lavished praise on their co-stars Catherine Zeta-Jones and especially Julia Roberts, who was pregnant with twins at the time. “She was pregnant before any of us had sex with her,” joked Pitt. “That’s how I hurt my neck,” quipped Clooney.

Since each of their characters in the heist film has a forte, what about in real life? “I’m good at drinking,” said Clooney, yelling ikki, ikki. “Acting is definitely not my forte,” shrugged Damon, while Pitt offered that interpretive dancing was his skill. “I like to speak with my body,” he said, but Clooney countered that “others would call that porn.”

Several magazines and other entertainment media from the US and UK had sent representatives over just for the day. After being shut out at the door, they tried desperately to interview local reporters who did get into the press conference, either by cell phone or by cornering them as they came out. What was Pitt’s mood? Was he still wearing his wedding ring? How often did he smile?

At the Japan premiere, the controversy certainly seemed a world away as the trio did what they do best: play to their adoring public. Despite the cold, thousands of screaming fans showed up as the stars spent 45 minutes signing autographs and shaking hands, prompting Pitt to promise: “I’m predicting Ocean’s Thirteen in Japan.” M

 

 

the scene

Hump Zero 5
Dance label KSR enlist Derrick Carter and other top DJs at Ageha for the biggest bash of the year so far
Photos courtesy of ksr

DJs clockwise from top left: Chicago house legend Derrick Carter; Italian breakbeat maestro Santos; Mark Farina, Derrick Carter’s longtime friend and collaborator; Dave Johnson from UK duo Grandadbob; Greenskeepers, another Chicago dance mainstay; Tokyo’s own mixaholic Duck Rock

 

q&a
Benjamin Warner
Creator of buildings and sandwiches

Chris Betros

When Benjamin Warner is not busy designing buildings as managing director of CDI Aoyama, he’s likely to be found in one of the four outlets of his sandwich deli chain benugo. Not bad for an Oxford lad who showed up in Japan 25 years ago as a budding architect with just 300 quid in his pocket.

What did you design last year?
We completed a Medical Association building in Fujinomiya and have a landmark project under construction on Meiji Dori. This is an “iceberg” type building—a real blade of glass.

Name some architectural monstrosities in Tokyo you would tear down.
The Fuji TV building in Odaiba for trying to be something which it clearly isn’t; the DoCoMo building in Shinjuku for being a ripoff of the Chrysler Building. I would also demolish the whole of the Shiodome redevelopment for being a totally awful piece of urban planning.

How is benugo doing?
Good. We learned from the mistakes of our competitors and did not open too many too soon. Our in-house concession at a large US company is doing well, and we opened our first franchised store in Osaka in October.

What is it with some of the weird combinations of sandwiches here?
Strange, isn’t it. Kiwi fruit and sweet cream sandwiches seem to be popular—as does the custom of putting potato salad between two pieces of white bread.

Do you have a sandwich philosophy?
Yes, definitely. Whole wheat bread with no artificial preservatives or additives is a must. The sandwich should be succulent but not soggy.

How do you divide your time between CDI and benugo?
I am essentially an architect and that is definitely what I am best at. I visit the benugo shops often—I am probably one of the best customers.

Do you serve behind the counter?
Yes, I can make a sandwich to kill for, but I can never make a good cup of coffee.

How do you relax?
Being with the kids, cooking, windsurfing and looking at the way this amazing city operates.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in Japan?
A game show involving knocking a golf ball as far as possible off the top of someone’s head with a baseball bat. CB M

Would you like to comment on this article? Send a letter to the editor at letters@metropolis.co.jp.

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