Mackenyu Has a Secret to Share With You

Mackenyu Has a Secret to Share With YouCourtesy of Ruben Chamorro
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Burt Reynolds’s 1972 centerfold in Cosmopolitan was, simply put, a major moment in pop culture. It was our magazine’s—any magazine’s—first time featuring a man in that kind of spread, and it cemented Burt’s status as one of America’s sexiest men. In homage, we’re launching the Cosmo Centerfold series, in which we take cheeky pics (and ask cheeky questions) of the hottest celebs of our time. To get the printable, hang-on-your-wall version, you’ll have to pick up an actual Cosmo to see it in the flesh (sorry, had to). Enjoy!

Reader, I have to confess that I was late for this interview. But I promise you, it was not my fault. It's just that 27-year-old actor Mackenyu was so completely in his element during his centerfold shoot that things ended a lot earlier than expected. So I sprinted to the studio and found him sitting on the couch, patiently waiting for 1) me 2) his publicist to bring him his guilty pleasure (more on that later), before we tucked into a cozy corner to talk about his newfound fame in America after starring in Netflix's live-action adaptation of the beloved anime series, One Piece, which hit number one on the streaming service shortly after its release.

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The thing about Mackenyu is that, on top of being incredibly, incredibly good looking, he has special skills. For One Piece, he had to learn how to carefully balance a sword in his mouth and look good doing it. He passed with flying colors. He also not-so-casually knows karate and could, if necessary, use it to protect you if the need should arise. (The need being... in your dreams?) So yeah, he's pretty fantasy-worthy, and it's helped make him a well-known mononym all over the world.

And now he's starring in a new project, The House of the Owl, about a drama fixer in Japan. It's all part of his master plan, which also includes charming everyone he meets (he sent our entire team flowers after his shoot). We got into all of it during our chat.

Between your role as Zoro in One Piece and Scar in Full-Metal Alchemist, it seems like you're playing the bad boy a lot more recently. What's going on there?

Bad boys, they're cool. You get drawn to them more than lead characters sometimes and they're fun to play as well. One bad boy I did was this cool character named Enishi from Rurouni Kenshin and he's a badass swordsman, too. I don't know, people cast me as bad boys.

Do you feel like you relate to them?

They are opposite from who I am and it's fun to play characters that are far apart from yourself. I think it's easier.

So you're a good guy IRL. So how does that translate to your date-planning game? What's the perfect night look like?

We'll I'm married, so the only word that pops up in my head is naked. It doesn't need to be super special. Just a dinner, maybe a movie and sharing a popcorn.

How did you first know you were in love?

It was definitely something I felt the first day I met my wife. I knew I couldn't be happy without her and I knew I needed her in my life to be happy for the rest of my life.


That is incredibly sweet. How do you maintain that work-life balance in your relationship, especially in your job?

You got to find a super supportive partner, especially in my job. You fly all over the world and you're not home all the time. So your partner needs to be super-duper supportive. Once you're back home, it's on you to pay back the support and keep your partner happy.

And you've been making major career moves lately. One Piece was such a beloved property even before the live-action series. Did you feel like there was some pressure to get Zoro right?

Of course there was a lot of pressure. I grew up with One Piece and I don't want to mess it up. I didn't want anyone doing Zoro other than me. There was a lot of pressure, but we did our best and I think we did a great job.

Not many people get to work with Eiichiro Oda, the creator of One Piece. Did he offer any advice as you brought your own version of the character to life?

It would have been a lot easier if he gave me specific tips and details about what to do with Zoro, but he didn't. That made it hard. I think he respects the actors and I want to think he want us to build our own Zoro and our own characters. And at the end he really liked it and it's important that he likes it and it's important that the fans liked it.

I'm assuming you had to do a lot of physical training for this role.

It wasn't that hard. I was expecting a lot more challenging fights for Zoro, but it's still season 1. So we can do better season 2 and in the future, hopefully. I'm looking forward for better action and better moves for Zoro.


You were originally born in America, but have built your career in Japan. How has it been having a sort of homecoming with the success of One Piece?

It was planned. My goal was to come back to the States after I worked on my acting.

Have you felt like there is a difference in the fandom between the two countries?

The love is the same. I don't want to compare them, I think you need to feel it.

Thankfully you have two new projects for Americans to obsess over. One is House of the Owl, which is out on Hulu now, and Dragons of Wonderhatch. What drew you to them?

They're completely different projects. One is fantasy and I'm the hero. One is serious and about a fixer in Japan. I play his son and he's the kind of guy who doesn't like money, doesn't like power, doesn't like the people that rule Japan and do whatever they want to do. He's trying to figure out what his dad does and what's going on. That's season one. There is a season two, hopefully, and I'm looking forward to how he changes and how he grows up.


Okay, some rapid fire questions to close us out. What's something you would be totally lost without?

I can't live without Boba.

In that case, what's something that you'll have every once in a while as a sweet treat?

Starbucks Java Chip Frappuccino. [Editor's note: Can confirm, he finished this drink of choice during our interview.]


What's something you want to do more of?

Spend time with my family. I really want to go to Hawaii.

If you can come to New York, then you can definitely go to Hawaii. It's much closer from Japan.

Oh, and New York Fashion Week. I love fashion. I have my own brand and that shows how much I like fashion. Just to get to know all the designers and be in that place where all the brands gather. That would be cool!

What's one thing about you that might surprise people? A secret, maybe.

I don't keep secrets...But, are One Piece cards huge here in the States?

I know Naruto has its own trading card game and, of course, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Magic the Gathering. Oh, and Disney has one too! But I'm not sure if the One Piece cards are available here.

Well, I'm a One Piece card player. It's hot! I go hardcore. Not much of a relaxed vibe there.

Oooh, a competitive side.

I actually go to tournaments and win cards. It's my free time fun stuff to do!


<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Watch 'House of the Owl' on Hulu</p><p></p>

Lead image: Dior Men jacket and brooch. INCRM earring.

Photographs by Ruben Chamorro. Styling by Andrea Zendejas. Hair and makeup: Meron Weyante with Artists by Timothy Priano.

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