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J.T. Rogers & Alan Poul on Making a Crime Series in Japan

Poul also talks about working on ‘Black Rain’ in the early 90s in Tokyo and how ‘Tokyo Vice’ faced some of the same challenges filming in Japan.

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I know you keep hearing about new series that you need to watch. I constantly hear about new shows from friends and colleagues almost every day. And while I know you are being bombarded all the time…you need to add Tokyo Vice to your list asap. Written by Tony Award-winning playwright J.T. Rogers and inspired by the 2009 memoir Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan by Jake Adelstein, the series stars Ansel Elgort as a young American journalist (based by Adelstein) who moves to Japan to work for a major newspaper in Tokyo in the late 90s. While trying to figure out how everything works before losing his job, he becomes friendly with a detective with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (Ken Watanabe), who refuses to be bought in a city where many are corrupted by money. Filmed entirely on location in Tokyo, the crime drama series will keep you guessing. Tokyo Vice also stars Rinko Kikuchi, Rachel Keller, Ella Rumpf, Hideaki Ito, Sho Kasamatsu, and music star Tomohisa Yamashita. In addition, Michael Mann directed the pilot episode, and it’s his work is fantastic.


Shortly after watching some episodes, I got to speak with J.T. Rogers and producer-director Alan Poul. During the interview, they talked about how they decided on making an eight-episode season, how they hope to continue the series, what people would be surprised to learn about the making of Tokyo Vice, what it was like filming the entire show in and around Tokyo, and how the COVID shutdown helped make the series better. In addition, Poul talked about working on Ridley Scott‘s Black Rain in the early 90s in Tokyo and how Tokyo Vice faced some of the same challenges.

tokyo vice Ansel Elgort and Ken Watanabe
Image via HBO Max

RELATED: ‘Tokyo Vice’s Ansel Elgort and Ken Watanabe on Making a Series in Both Japanese and English and What Sequence They’ll Always Remember

Check out what they had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about.

Alan Poul and J.T. Rogers

  • Poul talks about working on Black Rain in the early 90s in Tokyo. He talks about how some of the challenges they had making that movie were the same challenges they faced making Tokyo Vice.
  • How did they decide on eight episode for the season?
  • Are they hoping to make additional seasons?
  • Did getting shutdown due to COVID help make the show better because they had more time to work on the scripts and prep?
  • What would people be surprised to learn about the making of Tokyo Vice?
  • What is it like telling a story about the Yakuza?
  • How they had ex-members of the Yakuza as consultants on the series.

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