From Serious Roles to Comedy, Veteran Actor Koji Yamamoto Embraces Laughter in His 47-Year Career | FRIDAY DIGITAL

From Serious Roles to Comedy, Veteran Actor Koji Yamamoto Embraces Laughter in His 47-Year Career

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Koshi Yamamoto plays everything from cool villains to silly comical roles

Yamamoto Koji (47) is spreading new charm.

In the drama “Hayabusa Fire Brigade” (TV Asahi) broadcasted last year, he garnered attention for his portrayal of an eccentric editor, but in the previous season’s “What Did You Eat Yesterday?” (TV Tokyo), he played an entertainment production company employee who is manipulated by his lover. Currently airing in “Too Inappropriate!” (TBS), he portrays a television producer overly obsessed with compliance, showing that Yamamoto has been taking on more unique roles lately

The commercial for “Hinokiya Group” featuring Saito Takumi feels like a comedy sketch. Calling each other by their full names, Yamamoto, without changing his expression, lifts a barbell in a tank top or gazes at Saito through the glass shirtless. Seeing his transformation over the past few years, social media is buzzing with excitement.

“Yamamoto Koji-san was this funny? I’ve become an even bigger fan now.”

Despite being a bit perplexed, many voices are cheering for “Shin Yamamoto” (New Yamamoto).

“Yamamoto has been a baby model since infancy, and he became a topic of conversation even as a cute boy eating ‘Snow Brand Neosoft’ bread in a commercial at the age of 5. He made his acting debut in 1986 in the legendary program ‘Oyako Game’ (TBS), where TsuyoshiNagabuchi and Etsuko Shihomi co-starred.

The following year, he played the role of the young revolutionary Gavroche in the Japanese premiere of the stage production of ‘Les Misérables.’ He was considered a talented child actor on stage, rather than just a television actor,” (TV magazine writer).


With a career spanning 47 years, he became widely known to the public when he appeared in the Monday 9 p.m. drama “Hitotsu Yane no Shita” (Fuji TV) in 1993.

“At the age of 16, Yamamoto played the role of the fourth son who was confined to a wheelchair due to leg impairment. He portrayed a character who was quiet and withdrawn, but as he began living with his siblings, he gradually regained his brightness. He portrayed the role skillfully. With his sweet face, he quickly became popular among young women,” (same TV magazine writer).

Since then, he has appeared in numerous dramas, movies, and stage productions, solidifying his position as an actor. However, the characters he has portrayed have tended to be more cynical and dandy-like, with many quirky antagonistic roles. But recently, there has been an increase in roles that make audiences chuckle,


“Since he has often played cool roles in the past, many fans are surprised by this gap. In reality, he is extremely serious in his daily life. Yet, he has a natural charm that makes him amusing to watch. I wouldn’t say he’s completely unaffected, but I believe his unique qualities shine through,” (drama production producer).

Last year, Takeshi Kitano’s autobiographical novel “Asakusa Kid” was adapted into a stage play, and Yamamoto played Senzaburo Fukami, an Asakusa comedian who was Takeshi’s mentor. When asked about making people laugh in an interview with “T JAPAN” (distributed on October 14, ’23), he responded as follows.


“I’m not classified as a comedian actor, so I can’t speak much about laughter, but it’s often said that making people laugh is difficult, and I certainly agree with that sentiment. While making laugh and being laughed at are different, being laughed at can sometimes be a relief, and trying too hard to make people laugh can result in not being laughed at all.

When I portray a character, I don’t aim to make people laugh; instead, I focus on portraying things that I find amusing. Even if I fall flat, it feels more natural to me to portray things that I personally find funny.”

It’s clear that Yamamoto thoroughly enjoys the roles he plays. While he is often associated with comedy actors like Hidetoshi Nishijima, Muro Tsuyoshi, and Sadao Abe, it wouldn’t be surprising if Yamamoto soon joins their ranks.

  • PHOTO Yasuko Funamoto

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