Monthly Television No.182 (09/11/28~12/31)
There is a pliability about Sakamoto Ryoma ….. he’s very charismatic, I’d like to learn that from him too.
■ When NHK approached Fukuyama-san for the role of Ryoma, his initial feelings were not of joy, but of “query”
F: When I received the invitation from NHK, to be honest, my first thought was: “Why me?” I didn’t think my image had any overlap with Ryoma’s?! It didn’t seem to fit.
■ Upon studying Ryoma’s deeds and actions, Fukuyama-san became strongly attracted to this person.
F: At the beginning, the image I had of Ryoma in my heart was one of toughness, a man who was like a powerful bulldozer pushing events forward. But it appears he wasn’t like that at all, on the contrary he was unaggressive, once he accepted an idea wholly, he would take in all he could like a sponge and relay the good parts out……..I find that trait very compelling and I hope I can model after his personality in that respect.
■ Playing the part of Ryoma who is so popular with the women, how did Fukuyama-san see the reason for Ryoma’s attractiveness to the opposite sex, from your point of view as a man?
F: Ryoma probably gave women the impression that “He can’t do without me!” That was the way I interpreted it as I played my role. Because his mother passed away when he was very young, I think he’d be craving for maternal love. Like what he got from his sister Otome (乙女) and he had three of them by the way! My guess is he would naturally gravitate towards women like a mommy’s boy and is probably quite capricious like a child in that area. And I am the exact opposite, we only had 2 boys in our family. I always thought that “Men must be decisive and take the lead” but it seems this type of men don’t do well with the ladies at all! (laugh)
■ Immediately after his 20th anniversary concert tour, Fukuyama-san dived straight into the filming of “Ryoma den”, it was a very hectic month.
F: What gave me the strongest impression were those scenes where I had to “put in everything I had”. In the first episode, there was a scene where I had to fall into a pond. When I looked in and saw that the pond water was green in colour, I thought “You have got to be joking….”
So I went over to check – “The water in the pond…..is drinkable, right?…..it’s green tea, right?”
“Nope, it’s dirty water.” (laugh)
And in another scene in episode 2 where I had to lug sand bags around, we had a couple of cows on site. They were just relieving themselves non-stop there. And I was being sprayed with the muddy water which was naturally mixed with their wee and dung, my mouth was full of the sand and mud and……..I really worked as hard as a young newcomer. (laugh)
■ Besides putting in his very best, Fukuyama-san had a very meticulous way of defining his character.
F: How does Sakamoto Ryoma move and carry himself? When I had queries, I’d ask up on each and every one of them. We’d have prep meetings tirelessly before we went on site.
■ He was greatly praised by his kendo master, because he put aside time to train for kendo during the concert tour.
F: As students of the Takechi dojo, I had a sword fight scene with Takeru Sato-kun’s (佐藤健) Okada Izo.* During rehearsals, we were both very nice and polite, but the moment the camera started rolling, Sato-kun suddenly charged at me and kept bashing down. (laugh) Of course, I gave him back double. (laugh) Perhaps, it’s because we’re true Japanese? The moment we have swords in our hands, our spirits will soar!
■ Even though he’d be diligently training (on kendo) during breaks, Fukuyama-san does get to chat a bit with his co-stars occasionally.
F: During the outdoor shoot in Iwate, everyone in the Takechi dojo was listening to Miyasako Hiroyuki-san’s (宮迫博之) anecdotes**. We surrounded him going “Really ~~ that actually happened ~~ Hahahaha!”…… He gave us a very good time. (laugh) And Otanuki Kaoru-san (奥貫薫)*** went to the same audition as me, before our debut. This was the first time we met again after the 20 years. And how did we spend our 20 years…..I really interrogated her about it! (laugh) But I can’t disclose any of our conversations here, I’m sorry. (laugh)
■ Up to now, the role of Ryoma had been played by many actors before. How does Fukuyama-san plan to present a Fukuyama-specific Ryoma ?
F: I believe people love Ryoma-san because he is a multi-faceted person. Somehow, anyone could find a part of themselves in him. “I’m sure I could do something there?” He had this dream in him when he set out for Edo (江戸) and that allowed that teenager in me who left Nagasaki for Tokyo to relate to him. For me, all I want is to be able to portray a person whom people will like at first sight. I look forward to Team Ryomaden being able to work together to present such a Sakamoto Ryoma to you.
~ The End ~