EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Wes Studi (Street Fighter’s Sagat)

In the build-up to our screening of STREET FIGHTER at Kongs of Kings Street, we talk to some of the cast and crew about their experiences making this infamous film. In this exclusive interview, we talk to actor Wes Studi about playing one of the film’s villains – Sagat!


From Avatar to Last of the Mohicans, Heat to Dances With Wolves, actor Wes Studi is one of the those actors that makes every film he’s in at least 27% better. In Street Fighter, he appears as the villainous Sagat, so ahead of our screening, we tracked him down to ask what it was like working on the film, how you fight while wearing an eye-patch, and one of our favourite cult films – Deep Rising!

How did you end up getting the part of Sagat? Were you familiar with the Street Fighter computer games at all before hearing about the role?

I was not aware of the computer game at the time, as I am not much of a “gamer. However I found the role of Sagat very interesting, because of its extremes.

Also, the fact that Raul Julia was co-starring was also a very positive plus in why I accepted the part!

Infamously, Raul Julia was very ill during the shoot, yet you’d never know it from his scene-stealing performance. How was he to work with? Is it true he’d turn up on set wearing a lavish dressing gown?

I can’t speak to the lavish dressing gown, but Raul was a real pleasure to work with.

He was a consummate pro and a very giving actor. He had a big personality and a heart of gold, and despite his illness, he gave his all to the common effort of making Street Fighter an entertaining film.

Sagat and Bison

How was Street Fighter pitched to you? Director Steven E. De Souza’s vision was reportedly a cross between “Star Wars, a James Bond film and a war movie”…

For me, Street Fighter was simply pitched as an action movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Also, what sold me on it was that it would be shooting in Thailand and Australia!

How did you find Steven E. De Souza as a director? Did he have a lot of clout at the time due to writing box office hits like Die Hard and Commando?

I found Steven to be a very capable first time director, even though he had a lot on his plate. His clout at the time definitely did not hurt…

Sagat in prison

What was it like shooting in Thailand? Byron Mann told us that a lot of the young men on the cast really cut loose…

I can’t speak for the young men on the cast, but my young son Daniel accompanied me to Thailand while I worked on the picture. He for one seemed to enjoy the relative freedom of being in a foreign country.

The character of Sagat is notable for his eyepatch, but what was it like doing your scenes with one eye covered? Did it affect your equilibrium at all or did you quickly get used to it?

Your equilibrium is absolutely the first thing to go when you’re wearing an eyepatch. However, I countered that problem by drilling a tiny hole in the patch, which made a huge difference.

Did you take any mementos from the set? Perhaps one of those tennis ball firing guns?

I believe I took the eyepatch and some Bison Dollars!

I read that the stunt coordinator was frustrated as production was so rushed, he didn’t have much time to prepare the lead actors – did you feel that was the case?

I think most of the lead actors were fairly well versed in their physical abilities. The rest of us were left in the hands of the editors.


You’ve been in so many great movies – Dances With Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, Avatar, Heat – which film are you most recognised for and/or proud of?

I am proud of all the films I have had the oppurtunity to be a part of, but I am mainly recognised as Magua from “Last of the Mohicans”.

Lastly, you are in one of our favourite cult movies – Deep Rising – please could you tell us a bit about making that film… because it’s awesome. 

Deep Rising

For me, Deep Rising was a great learning curve in using automatic weapons ‘on camera’, as well as how to swim underwater for camera. Generally, just being able to work while soaked!  However, the crowning touch for me was portraying the act of being eaten alive by a green screen monster, while adjusting my spine to fit the needs of the camera angle.

As you can imagine, it was great fun to shoot such an action filled movie.

Wes Studi, thanks for your time!

Thank you, and have a wonderful screening.

You can follow Wes Studi on Twitter here.