Yoshifumi Sakamukai, 64, is an actor who perfectly fits the term “monster actor.
Akechi Mitsuhide, who played the role in the NHK historical drama “Dare Ieyasu,” died an untimely death, but the man who looked down on countrymen with a sarcastic personality and continued to humor Nobunaga to the point of pettiness did not win the sympathy of viewers until the very end. He successfully created a character that is the exact opposite of Mitsuhide, who has a strong sense of justice, as played by Hiroki Hasegawa (46) in the NHK historical drama “Kirin ga Kuru” broadcast in 2008.
In the movie “The Prosecution” released in 2006, he played a suspect in a murder case and attracted attention with his “monstrous” performance. He has a large birthmark from his right cheek to his temple, and his character suddenly makes strange noises such as ‘poof’ and tap dances, which some people said was ‘scary’ and ‘creepy.
In “Saiai” (TBS), he played a father searching for his son, a rapist who had gone missing. His eyes glazed over and his spitting, screaming performance was almost maniacal. He also played the role of a deputy in NHK’s historical drama “Seiten wo Sukuke,” and although he did not appear in the series for a long time, his strong personality that makes you feel “I hate him” sticks in viewers’ minds. How are these characters created?
I don’t make up roles. When I was in a theater company, I was told to create roles, but I always wondered, “How do you create a role? I always wondered, “How do you create a role? Then, at one stage, I met a foreign director,
He said, “You are there, your role is there, and if you are not on the other side of the role, the role cannot be seen. When I see you through the role, I know that you are this kind of person. That’s where the depth comes from.
That’s what I was told. In short, I was told to just be myself. I was told that I didn’t have to make up a role. I was taught the importance of not daring to create a role. I treasure those words.
The “I could bare my heart” moment.
He is 184 centimeters tall and weighs 70 kilograms. He has long arms and legs and a great style. He is a nice guy who stylishly wears a T-shirt with a masked rider print, which he prepared for his child and told him to wear. He is a gentleman in the quiet manner in which he speaks. He first aspired to become an actor when he was in the second grade of elementary school.
He says, “I was very impressed by the performance of a woman from a mobile theater troupe that came to my school. She was so energetic and lively. I was a shy kid, but after the performance, I went to the front of the stage and just held out my hand for a handshake without saying a word. Looking back on it now, I think that was the very first time I got my foot in the door.
Since then, he has never wanted to do anything other than acting. He says he never felt it was a hardship because he loved the work. However, the long period of working as an underachiever continued, and it was not until he was over 50 years old that he was able to make a living as an actor alone. What was the turning point?
When I performed in a play directed by a German director, something changed drastically in me. It was a two-man show with a man and a woman, and there was a scene in which the man and the woman were naked at the end and exposed to each other. We had been rehearsing for a long time, but we never got naked. I thought that since it was a Japanese play, there would be no nudity, but three days before the performance, I was asked to get naked.
I thought, “I’m a 50-year-old man running around on a small stage without a stitch on,” but when I did it, all the pretense and pretense I had inside me came off. At that moment, I realized that I was just me. I felt like I was able to bare not only my body but also my mind. That was a major turning point in my life as an actor.
He says, “It was a turning point in my life as an actor. As a result, I found the answer to the question I mentioned earlier: “Just be myself. There is one more thing that is important to me in acting.
I think it is really important to be able to empathize with the role. I think this is really important. No matter what kind of thugs they are, there are parts of them that I can sympathize with. On the other hand, I don’t think I could play a role that I can’t relate to. That is why I think it is important for me to be able to empathize with a character when I read the script.
I couldn’t be Toshiyuki Nishida or Renji Ishibashi even if I wanted to.”
Of course, that can’t be the only reason. Are you not influenced by your favorite movies and actors?
I think I am influenced by the actors in Akira Kurosawa’s and Yasujiro Ozu’s films. I was impressed that they could act like that. I really like Daisuke Kato’s acting. His acting is so integrated with the character that it makes you feel as if you are there.
As for the actors with whom he has acted, Toshiyuki Nishida and Renji Ishibashi are of a different caliber. I don’t use them as references because I can’t emulate them myself, but I do have a desire to be like them.
Finally, I asked Sakamukai what the best part of his job as an actor is.
I think the most fascinating thing is to use your frontal lobe to imagine. I think about what I should do or how I should do it. I would be very happy if what I thought up was accepted by everyone, and I think this job is full of charm that I can feel.
In the movie “The Armada of Silence,” scheduled to open in late September nationwide, Sakamukai will play the role of Foreign Minister Seiji Kageyama.
PHOTO： Takehiko Kohiyama