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Andrew Koji Reveals His Path To Playing Storm Shadow In Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins - Exclusive Interview

After 15 years in the film and television industry, a major storm front is brewing for Andrew Koji. However, in this case, the forecast is looking bright and sunny for the actor on the rise, because Koji is starring in the pivotal role of Storm Shadow in "Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins."

"Snake Eyes" is the third live-action "G.I. Joe" movie based on the Hasbro action figure brand-turned-comic book and animated series, which in this case takes the action back in time to chronicle the beginning of two of the "G.I. Joe" franchise's best-known characters. Koji begins "Snake Eyes" as Tommy Arashikage, who is unexpectedly saved from certain death by a mysterious loner only known as Snake Eyes (Henry Golding). Impressed by the honor Snake Eyes showed him by defying his boss and sparing his life, Tommy introduces his new ally to the revered Arashikage Clan in Japan in the hopes that he will endure the powerful organization's rigorous rites of passage and join them.

Ignoring the distrust Akiko (Haruka Abe) — the clan's head of security — has for Snake Eyes, Tommy quickly forms a brotherly bond with his new friend, but eventually finds out that there are hidden intentions behind his actions. Complicating matters even further, the terrorist organization Cobra and its wicked intelligence officer the Baroness (Úrsula Corberó) begins to pose a threat to the clan, forging the path that leads to Tommy's transformation into the feared ninja Storm Shadow.

Also starring Samara Weaving as "G.I. Joe" character Scarlett O'Hara, "Snake Eyes," directed by Robert Schwentke, opens in theaters nationwide Friday, July 23. In an exclusive interview with Looper, Koji — whose credits include "Peaky Blinders" and "American Gods" — discusses his approach to playing Tommy-slash-Storm Shadow, his work with Golding, and his thoughts on who would end up winning a real-life showdown between him and his "Snake Eyes" co-star.

Andrew Koji hopes fans will embrace this new beginning of the G.I. Joe movie franchise

Since G.I. Joe is a worldwide phenomenon, was it a part of your life growing up in Europe, and if so, were you fascinated with Storm Shadow?

No, not before learning the role. I hadn't grown up with him. I was a video game geek, and I think it's called "Action Force" in England. But yeah, after landing the role, that's when I had to do the research and kind of get into it. And then that's when I started to kind of go, and then I was talking with Robert about us wanting to ground it in some sort of Japanese samurai culture, et cetera. I think that's when obviously it became fun.

"Snake Eyes" is interesting in that in a sense, you're defining the role of Storm Shadow, as well as Henry is with Snake Eyes  and presenting those roles in ways that fans haven't seen before. That must be tremendously satisfying for you as an actor, given that rare opportunity to define an iconic character like Storm Shadow.

Yeah, I guess so. I mean, once it comes out, we'll see. I guess that hasn't really landed yet, it's more like, as every job that you do as an actor, you just do your absolute best hopefully, and then you move on. So I think with this, I don't know about defining the character, but certainly I worked really hard to try and make it so that people — little kids who are watching and G.I. Joe fans — would be proud and happy.

Andrew Koji says his most intense scenes were opposite Henry Golding

The highway action scene is one of the best I've seen in years. I think it rivals anything in the "Fast and Furious" movies. It's such a spectacular scene. Would that be the most intense scene do you think you filmed in "Snake Eyes"? 

No. I think there were quite a few intense moments for me, just because anything with Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes together can be quite intense. They're quite an intense relationship. But yeah, certainly as Storm Shadow, when Tommy becomes what we know as Storm Shadow, is the moment when it felt like that was, I guess, intense. 

It's interesting how you really get to see different sides of each other's characters throughout the film. It must've been a wonderful opportunity to work with a guy like Henry, I mean, because you guys really do have a great chemistry together.

Oh, really? Thank you. Yeah. I mean this, it's very interesting. I mean, Henry and I are very similar but also very different. We grew up in similar parts the world and we've taken very different routes, but we've ended up on the same film together. So yeah, we could channel that into the characters and the performances we do.

It's an interesting dynamic that you and Henry's characters obviously have in this film, because you're starting off as brother-like characters and then you eventually become adversaries. But if there were a throwdown between you and Henry in real life, who wins? 

[Laughs] I don't know. Yeah, I'd take him on. Yeah, I'd take him. [Smiles] But no, I wouldn't, he's a lovely dude, so, I'm not going to do it.

"Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins" opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, July 23.