Reo Tamaki, who is in the spotlight for his heel role in “Hikaru Kimi he” (To You, Hikaru Kimi), “I went out with Hana Kuroki at night in Shinjuku…” The most “popular guy” among stage actors in his past. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Reo Tamaki, who is in the spotlight for his heel role in “Hikaru Kimi he” (To You, Hikaru Kimi), “I went out with Hana Kuroki at night in Shinjuku…” The most “popular guy” among stage actors in his past.

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Reo Tamaki walking with Hana Kuroki on the streets of Shinjuku (March 7, ’14 issue)

NHK’s historical drama “Hikaru Kimi e” is doing well. The first-run rating of 12.7% (figures are for the Kanto region, according to Video Research) was the lowest average first-run household rating for a historical drama since “Hana no Issho” in 1963, but the drama itself has been well received, and ratings for the second and subsequent episodes have been on the rise.

The drama is set in the mid-Heian period, which is unfamiliar for historical dramas, and stars Murasaki Shikibu (Mahiro), played by Yuriko Yoshitaka, and as a whole, does not offer flashy battle scenes like those in the Warring States period and the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate. The production team seems to have expected this rating, but was taken aback by the shocking development at the end of the first episode. Reo Tamaki (38), who played the role of Fujiwara no Michikane, gave a monstrous performance, which no doubt gave the show momentum.

The first episode, which depicted Mahiro’s childhood as a child actor, was relatively calm as it described her encounter with Fujiwara no Michinaga (Saburo), played by Tasuku Emoto, with whom she was destined to meet in the future. However, in the last 10 minutes of the episode, Mahiro’s mother was stabbed with a sword by Michikane and killed. Many viewers were horrified to see the expression on Dokane’s face as he was covered in blood and his eyes were ripped out. The social networking sites were filled with comments such as “Hell from the very beginning,” “Too scary in the middle of Heian period,” “Psychopath Michikane,” “Michikane horror,” etc., all of which focused on Michikane.

Tamaki made his debut in 2005 with the theater company “Kakiguiukaku” and has been active mainly on the stage. From 2007, he organized the “Gekidan Unit Kasugai” and was also in charge of directing. He has a deep knowledge of theater and takes good care of his troupe members. He has a good reputation for his calm personality and attentiveness to his co-stars.

Not necessarily because of that, but he is popular with women anyway. He has performed with many famous actresses on stage, and there have been many rumors of his dating life. There was even a time when he was called “the most popular man among stage actors.

In fact, “FRIDAY” has also witnessed a two-shot between Tamaki and a popular actress. It was in December 2001. Tamaki was appearing in the CAT-produced play “SEMINAR/Seminar” (Kinokuniya Theater, Shinjuku). Her co-star was Hana Kuroki (33), who got her big break that year. After the stage, the two rode the subway together. During the ride, Tamaki put her hand on Kuroki’s shoulder in a gesture of support, and the conversation was filled with smiles.

He said, “In ’17, I was rumored to be romantically involved with a popular actress. He is a popular guy and has the last name ‘Tamaki. And because of the similarity of their faces, a rumor spread on the Internet that he might be the son of Koji Tamaki. It was a complete falsehood, but from that point on, his existence became widely known” (writer for a theater magazine).

In 1919, he played a self-centered young man who committed mass murder in the movie “Kyokaishi,” for which he won the “Mainichi Film Concours Sponichi Grand Prix Rookie of the Year Award. Since then, he has been appearing in movies and TV dramas as a supporting player. In an interview with “TV Guide Minna Drama” (January 29, 2011), Tamaki had the following to say about his role as Michikane.

When I met Mr. Oishi (Shizuka), who wrote the script, he said, “I wanted to give you a good role, but he turned out to be a very unpleasant person,” and I thought, “I’m going to play an unpleasant person for a long time.

(Laughs.) And what about the reaction after the first broadcast?

The reaction was great. People said, “What is this guy? It’s not easy to hear directly from them, so I only saw them on SNS and so on. When I read the script, I knew I would be hated, so it was as I expected (laughs).

(laugh). I wonder what kind of unlikable roles she will play in the future. We will keep an eye on Tamaki’s monstrous performance.

Tamaki patting Kuroki on the shoulder after the end of his stand (March 7, ’14 issue).
Kuroki got his big break that year (March 7, 2002 issue).
Tamaki walking with Kuroki on the streets of Shinjuku (March 7, ’14 issue)
  • PHOTO Tetsuko Takemoto

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