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Knights Of The Zodiac: How Famke Janssen Made A Male Anime Role Her Own

Fans of the "Saint Seiya" manga and anime were likely very intrigued when it was announced a live-action adaptation, called "Knights of the Zodiac," would fly into theaters. The film cuts out the "Saint Seiya" filler in favor of a clean, lean story depicting the origin of how Seiya (Mackenyu) becomes the Pegasus Knight. Of course, it wouldn't be a heroic tale without a bad guy getting in the way, and fans of the anime may have noticed a change in Vander Guraad (Famke Janssen).

The anime has an antagonist, Vander Graad, a stocky man with white hair. It's a far cry from the beautiful Guraad we meet in the film, who still retains some of the character's personality traits, such as being cold and calculating. When promoting the movie with JoBlo Celebrity Interviews, Janssen explained the journey of discovering the character and making it her own, "It was really interesting because I didn't know anything about it. And also Guraad is not based on, you know, the anime originally because it was a man, a male character, and now, we have a female character. And so there was a lot more freedom in developing her." The result was something Famke Janssen helped create from the ground up. 

Famke Janssen even helped inform Vander Guraad's costume

There are many risks associated with changing any aspect of a character from such a beloved property. However, Famke Janssen seemed more than up to the task. Despite not knowing anything about "Saint Seiya" prior to getting the role, she learned all she could and played a role in Vander Guraad's development. She actively wanted to do justice to the character, going on to say, "I just asked a ton of questions and then got very much involved in the emotional throughline of the character and ended up co-creating, you know, the sleeves on one of my costumes with the costume designers I worked with very closely. And literally, everything was designed on me, so it became a beautiful collaboration."

All that hard work surely paid off in creating a faithful adaptation of the original character that fans of "Saint Seiya" would recognize despite the gender swap. The actress earned praise for her performance from the likes of JoBlo, which wrote in its review, "Famke Janssen is the best aspect of this adaptation as Guraad, the villain and one of the sole characters to get a complete arc through the movie."

Famke Janssen may not be as busy as her "X-Men" days, but when she does appear in a project, she ensures she makes it count. You can see her performance for yourself by buying or renting "Knights of the Zodiac" on Prime Video or Apple TV.