Those familiar with her past work may be surprised to learn that it’s Maya Erskine who plays Mizu on “Blue Eye Samurai.” After all, Erskine is primarily known for her comedic work and, therefore, hasn’t ever played a character quite as intense or tormented as Mizu in any other movie or TV show. Nonetheless, it turns out that Erskine was “Blue Eye Samurai” creators Michael Green and Amber Noizumi’s first and only choice for the role. Green admitted as much in an interview with Netflix’s Tudum, telling the outlet, “If we didn’t have Maya Erskine, there was no second choice for Mizu.”
Noizumi, notably, first became aware of Erskine’s talent while watching “PEN15,” and she quickly began to feel a real kinship with the actor, who also grew up as a mixed-race Japanese woman in Southern California. “Sometimes I would watch her and knew that she felt my pain,” Noizumi reveals. “She far exceeded our expectations as Mizu.”
Over the course of “Blue Eye Samurai” Season 1, viewers watch as Mizu, who routinely wears orange-tinted glasses to hide her blue eyes and poses as a man in public, slowly begins to move past some of her many shortcomings on her path toward revenge. As the character, Erskine brings additional depth and complexity to every single thing that Mizu says and does. While she grows a lot throughout the series’ first eight episodes, too, the ending of “Blue Eye Samurai” Season 1 opens the door for her to keep evolving in new and exciting ways. That, in turn, means that Erskine’s performance may continue to grow more complex and emotionally nuanced moving forward.
As anyone who has seen “Blue Eye Samurai” will attest, that’s saying quite a lot.