BY DONNA FREYDKIN
There's nothing like kicking off the year with a massive, loud, deafening bang. And we can't think of a bigger one than "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," opening Friday. It pits Gotham versus Metropolis, as two of the DC Comics' world's most venerable creations, Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill), go at it.
Complicating things is maniacal, manipulative, megalomaniacal Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who has a bee in his bonnet about destroying Superman. He's aided by his efficient sidekick Mercy Graves (Tao Okamoto).
The film, directed by Zack Snyder, has been cloaked (sorry for the pun) in near total secrecy. This reporter has seen it. And fearless prediction: fans will freak. Okamoto definitely thinks so.
"To be honest, I haven't watched other 'Superman' movies, other than 'Man of Steel.' I haven't seen other Lex Luthors. I don't know what people are expecting from Jesse – but he was so amazing and funny and strange and weird. That made it creepy and spooky. He brought the character to life. The audience will love it," she says.
The Japanese actress has made the switch from modeling -- her first major role was the female lead opposite Hugh Jackman in 2013's "Wolverine." She's been taking acting classes and perfecting her command of English. And she put everything to use as Mercy.
"It was so fascinating. I didn't have a big speaking role. I used to act as sassy girls all the time as a model so that wasn't so challenging to me. But I enjoyed it so much, being mean. I tried to be mean," she says.
Of course, playing against Eisenberg, with his rapid-fire delivery and ability to improvise, is no easy feat. It requires superhuman responsiveness. "He spoke so much. He added so many lines. I was more the assistant, making sure everything was going well and he was doing his own thing," says Okamoto.
With the film opening, she's not averse to doing a bit of catwalk stuff here or there. But it's not her main calling anymore. "It's not about how major these (campaigns) are. It's more about how much they appreciate me, doing new stuff. I'm pretty proud of what I've done as an actor and I don't want to be just another Asian model again," she says.