Exclusive interview with Jason Sakaki on Devil in Ohio

Jason Sakaki is a Canadian-born actor who has several credits on stage as well on screen for appearances in several series such as CW’s ‘iZombie’ and ‘Riverdale’, in GAC Family’s original movie ‘Christmas Is You’, and on Paramount+ as Brad in “Honor Society”.

Sakaki plays the role of Isaac in the Netflix thriller series ‘Devil in Ohio’ based on the novel of the same name written by Daria Polatin.

Sakaki talked to The Envoy Web about his experiences during the filming of Devil in Ohio and working with Daria Polatin, among more details.

Can you describe your experiences working on the set of ‘Devil in Ohio’, especially with Daria Polatin who is responsible for this series?

Devil in Ohio was my first recurring guest role on a TV series, so it was a lot of learning along the way. Luckily, Daria was such a gracious guide, and really helped me shape Isaac’s arc. She’s an extremely detail-oriented artist, which is so useful in building out the world my character lives in.

All of my scenes were with Xaria Dotson (Jules) and she was truly the best partner I could’ve asked for. We had a lot of scenes to cover at the high school. Some of our days could be pretty long, but our cast was a lot of fun to be around, so they never felt like they dragged on. 

How did you come about this role? Take us through the process of being cast as Isaac.

The audition breakdown came into my inbox in July of 2021. Immediately I was excited about Isaac, as I find a lot of similarities between him and me. We sent in the audition tape and heard back pretty quickly. I had a chemistry read with Xaria and we really connected. A week later I was cast and I was pretty gobsmacked.

The creative team put a lot of trust in me, and a lot of the credit goes to Tiffany Mak, our Canadian Casting Director. She really pushes for Vancouver talent, and on multiple projects has had my back, especially when it comes to authentically casting queer actors. 

Filming took place in Vancouver. Hailing from Canada yourself, what was it like shooting in that location?

I think Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We shot from September to December, and we had some days where we were battling rain and snow. The weather was cold, but the shots always looked beautiful. I think for a thriller series, Vancouver is the perfect place to shoot.

You get this great overcast look that portrays as dark and mysterious on screen. The high school where we shot was a retired catholic school, and definitely had some spooky vibes to it. We’d be shooting at 1 am and only parts of it were lit, so walking around it at night definitely got us into the haunting mood. 

You’ve got a lot of onstage experience, so how much of that influences your on-screen work? Is there a difference in how you approach each role?

Yeah, I started working in theatre when I was pretty young. It was my first passion and translated into film really nicely. When I approached playing Isaac, I wanted him to have elements of theatricality as he was running for Class President. He needed to be a larger personality and be charismatic enough to warrant a vote.

His passions were Speech and Debate, so he was quite articulate. I don’t think there’s a lot of difference in how I approach Theatre vs. Film, both require the same book-work and research. I think film is a lot more fleshed out as we’re covering eight episodes worth of story, so it’s a lot of filling in the gaps of what has happened off-screen to get us to this moment. 

Can you give me your own opinion on the existence of cults and their imprint on society?

I find cults fascinating and terrifying, as I’m sure many of our viewers do. I was surprised to learn about the many cults that still exist today, and I’m sure there are many we have yet to uncover. I think the most disturbing aspect is the kids who are born into them, who don’t know any better. I really feel for Mae watching our show, as she navigates the outside world for the first time.

She makes some questionable (to us) decisions, but they can all be attributed to her survivalist instincts. A lot of our characters have a hard time relating to her struggles, and therefore don’t show her much or any sympathy. I think that is indicative of how a lot of people would genuinely react, and I hope people reflect on that after watching our finale. 

Your character wasn’t closely involved with the more thrilling elements of the series, is this genre something you’d be interested in exploring more in-depth in the future?

I’m particularly fascinated with human behaviour, and as an actor, I find the genre extremely interesting. It’s super exciting to see how much queer content is being produced right now, but most of it is comedic, so I’d love to see what a queer-led thriller would look like. Who knows, maybe in 5 years you’ll see me leading a spooky gay Netflix show.

Jason will appear next in “Prom Pact” on Disney+ coming Spring 2023.

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