In the Eyes of Others (Part 3): Kodama Kiyoshi
Kodama Kiyoshi 児玉清, Veteran Actor (Beauty or Beast?, Hero, Fight, Code Blue etc.); Entertainment Show Host and Writer
I don’t know if I am able to fully explain to you about Fukuyama Masaharu-san’s charisma and brilliance. But I’m going to give it a try, please hear me out.
His name first became imprinted on my mind about 6 years ago. There was a photograph of a girl on the TV screen, which melted my heart completely. I couldn’t pull my eyes away. It was set in a street corner, but was filled with the angelic innocent smile of a young girl. The purity and warmth that emanated from the photo gave one a sense of peace and reminiscence.
I couldn’t help wondering: “Who was it? Who was the photographer ……?” Some say that a photograph reflects the heart of the person who took it. Such a stirring reflection, who could have taken it? I really wanted to know. Then, the person appeared on the TV screen, it was Fukuyama Masaharu-san. That was a special programme on the Sydney Olympics and he was reporting on the event by way of his photos. Not only were the shots impressive, but his soft-spoken demeanor which clearly expressed his views and reasoning, totally overwhelmed me.
For the next 2 years, my impression of him remained unchanged. And then, I had a chance to star with him in a TV drama, “Bijo ka Yajuu” (美女か野獣 Beauty or Beast?) on Fuji TV Thursdays 10pm. From a mutual “Hello, how do you do” we just naturally started talking (which in itself, was a big enough surprise for me). I was very glad to find that he was exactly like the candid and open image that I had seen on TV before.
As we were shooting the drama, our characters sometimes sat in adjacent seats in the newsroom. We chatted a lot, mostly about ordinary matters in everyday life. That too was totally unexpected and unimaginable (to me). I was mentally prepared that if I did get the chance to speak with a superstar like himself, we’d probably be exchanging greetings and no more. I thought he wouldn’t seriously be spending time talking with someone who was 36 years older than him, but he turned out to be completely different.
To be honest, even if I had really wanted to carry a normal conversation with other famous young actors, that wouldn’t have been possible either. I have had plenty of experience in those situations so far, and I had long since given up. But he was so natural and so genuine, I couldn’t sense any disparity at all. I felt it strongly in my heart. When we talked, not only was there no age barrier, but I was stunned by the depth and richness of his discussions. I was delighted to have been able to meet such a good talking partner.
New surprises and discoveries came one after another. He has a mature man’s candor and tolerance, and the ability to respond to any topic. He explains his opinions clearly and with a gentle disposition. Even though he is a superstar, I could not find a hint of arrogance in him. Eloquent, free spirited; intelligent, he is often able to state the most logical things with ease and spontaneity. He has the brains and also the warmth, kindness and empathy to be considerate to others. At times, he was not only willing to listen to the ramblings of this old man, but was able to give me fitting suggestions.
And when I said to him, in all earnestness: “You’re just like my older brother”, he laughed out loud “Hahahaha…” Those happy days were the first time I met Fukuyama-san - since I saw his photographs in the Sydney Olympics TV special.
And there was the women’s softball team! I told him how much I envied his being able to attend the Olympics via his role as a reporter. I am in fact a loyal Olympics fan, but never had the chance to be there in person. He immediately invited me to go: “Next time, go to Athens with me!” He added that he would be going to the next Olympics in Athens. I thanked him with a smile: “It would be great if we could really go together.” And we didn’t talk about it anymore, upto the last episode of Bijo ka Yajuu.
I greatly admire the actor in Fukuyama-san, but when I first heard him sing in person at the celebration dinner, I was spellbound. (Note: The entire cast of “Bijo ka Yajuu” guest-starred in the Tamashii no Radio programme on 2003.03.15) After that, we did not have any more contact.
Until 2 years later, a few months before the opening of the Athens Olympics, Fukuyama-san suddenly phoned me up. As promised, he called to say: “Let’s go to Athens together!” I was out of words. That invitation years ago was, to me, no more than a pleasantry, a casual joke. I had totally forgotten about it. The condition for going to Athens together was that I had to be Fukuyama-san’s off-screen commentator in his Olympics TV special programme.
Unbelievingly, I asked: “Is this for real?” When I finally understood that it was all true, I felt like I had been struck by lightning. “He’s real good guy, with such a compassionate heart.” And I don’t know why my eyes turned red that very instant. ”Beneath the kindness, is a chivalry, a heroic spirit.” Needless to say, these words were constantly on my mind as I set off for my first live Olympics in Athens, feeling both thrilled and thankful.
Fukuyama Masaharu-san is truly one such wonderful person. His charisma is enough to warm the stagnant heart of a 73-year old man like myself. I trust you will all like him as I do.
~ The End ~
~ Magazine “anan”, Issue no. 1532 (2006.10.18) ~