The more I try to play a role, the more I think how inadequate I am compared to the character I am playing,” said actor Masahiro Motoki, 57.
Actor Masahiro Motoki (57) began to talk while looking down a little, “Friendship: Seiji Hirao and Shinya Yamanaka’s Last Year” (TV Asahi), which will be broadcast on November 11, will focus on Seiji Hirao, who led the Japanese rugby world as a player and coach, and passed away in October 2004 from bile duct cell cancer. He played the role of Seiji Hirao, who led the Japanese rugby world as a player and coach and passed away in October 2004 from cholangiocarcinoma.
He passed away in October 2004 from bile duct cell cancer. “Many of the roles I play are good people who are far removed from myself. Mr. Hirao was two years older than me. At the time when his Kobe Steel rugby team was winning seven consecutive Japanese championships, I was finishing my group activities and trying to make it on my own, which I could not afford to do. Even in such a situation, the sight of Mr. Hirao on the news left a lasting impression on me. He was flamboyant and radiated a unique aura that even men could fall in love with. There is no way to recreate the atmosphere of such a man with wildness, sharpness, and generosity. In my mind, along with Jiro Shirasu, he was someone who should never be touched.
During the filming of the movie “Departures” he experienced the work of a coffin maker, and for this film he also sought guidance from Shota Goto, 40, a former member of the Japanese national rugby team.
I don’t actually think being an actor is my calling. I think that’s the case with about 70% of the people in the world. They work as if it is their vocation. I don’t have the dexterity to get into people’s bosoms, and I can’t fully empathize with the roles I play. I feel that I can finally make an entrance into a role by starting from the formality and forcing myself to be close to the character. Well, after a little experience, I never reach the essence of the role. …… I am always struggling with my fake self. I’m not confident I can play the role, so I have to fill it in with knowledge and the sensations I get from the little experience I have.”
He has a notebook full of notes in his hand, and once he starts talking about Mr. Hirao, he can’t stop. He also worked on his body in preparation for playing the role of Hirao, who was lying on a hospital bed.
He was fasting and undergoing treatment with anti-cancer drugs, and he lost a lot of weight,” said Motoki. I was given three weeks to get close to that figure. I had originally weighed about 71 kg, but I dropped to 61 kg. For the first 3-4 days, I drank only special juice and gradually ate solid food and did aerobic exercises to lose weight. My stomach and buttocks became as thin as an old man’s. But I could do it because I could eat anything I wanted once this was over, and it was a time-limited weight loss. The reality is that I am losing weight (thinning) as if I were dying from the inside out. …… I was reminded once again of the tremendous struggle that Mr. Hirao was going through and the greatness of his efforts to act naturally and cheerfully even in the midst of his battle with the disease. I wondered if this was what Professor Shinya Yamanaka (61) meant when he said, ‘Mr. Hirao is a bundle of coping power.
In addition, Motoki held a dialogue with Mr. Hirao’s wife, Keiko, and during the performance, he tried to maintain a soft tone toward Hirao’s family, who were lying on their sickbed. He attributes his preparedness to his character from childhood.
I do a lot of ego searching.
When I was a child, I would talk to my mother about things that happened in elementary school, and every time I did, I would complain about how I was bad in this way, or that child was bad in that way, or the teacher was bad at ……,” he said. My mother used to scold me, saying that I was not productive in any way (laughs). She is negative. I believe that acting is a job that requires trust in people, but I am very skeptical. I was always asking myself, “Is there really such a good person? Or, “How can you say such a thing in this scene? I have to go through those doubts. But I think that if you don’t go through that doubt, you can’t look into the depths of human nature. I am interested in people, but it is a real hassle to get involved with them, and to be honest, I dislike people, including myself (laughs).
Although Motoki has been active in the entertainment industry for more than 40 years, he still worries about what others think of him and what they think of him.
Because of my personality, I do a lot of ego-searching,” he said. Especially for this drama, it’s a must! I’m sure I’ll be scolded by the core Hirao-san fans, who will say, ‘That’s totally different. …… But that’s why I really hope that people will rediscover the charm of the real Mr. Hirao. The work I do is a water business. There is also the danger of being swept away by others. On the other hand, I can be turned in a direction that I would not have thought of, or moved by public reaction. …… There is something interesting about being adrift.”
Throughout, Motoki tried to demean himself as “soft,” “negative,” and “fake. However, I felt his strong core as an actor when he talked about Mr. Hirao whenever he had a chance, such as during the photo shoot and while waiting for the camera.
From the November 10 and 17, 2023 issues of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Shinji Hamasaki, TV Asahi (in-play photo)