Actor Ryohei Suzuki Takes the Lead

Taking Anime and Manga Heroic Roles to the Big Screen Interview

by Miyuki Kawai

TJ: How did you first get into acting?
SUZUKI: I have been interested in acting since I was a junior high student. I moved to Tokyo when I entered university, and I joined an acting club. Then I looked into how to become an actor. I contacted nearly 50 agencies, and one company advised me to start as a model. Fortunately, after almost a year, the company got a partnership deal with HoriPro, and I stated to take acting lessons. An acting instructor took notice of me, and I joined HoriPro officially to start my acting career.

TJ:Has it been difficult adapting to fame?
SUZUKI:I am tall and stand out in a train, so I tend to avoid riding on trains. I often ride a bicycle, but don’t want to ride a motorcycle because I am afraid of accidents.

TJ: Your recent project “Gatchaman” was based on the 1970s anime “Science Ninja Team Gatchaman,” which was released in the English-speaking world as “Battle of the Planets.” And your other recent project “Hentai Kamen” is based on a popular manga. Are you a fan of anime and manga? Why do you think manga has become popular abroad?
SUZUKI: I am not a big anime fan, but I was surrounded by many manga, and I read them. The uniqueness of the idea must be the major reason for the popularity. In Anime, nothing is taboo in terms of theme, idea and expression. Also, the drawings are very sensitive compared to American comics. I think Japanese are perfectionists in many ways. When I lived in Oklahoma as an exchange student, I was proud of Japanese manga such as Dragon Ball, and it helped me to make friends.

TJ: In “Hentai Kamen,” you play a hero of justice wearing a pair of panties on your head. Did you feel any hesitation?
SUZUKI: I didn’t feel too much hesitation to play the role. I think it is the type of manga that only Japanese can make (in terms of uniqueness and permissiveness), so I think it will be well received in foreign countries. In fact, it won third place in box office sales for a few weeks in Taiwan. I spent a year to make my body suitable for the role. I gained 15kg to build muscles, and reduced weight according to a bodybuilding method. As a result, I could obtain the ideal body for the role that even the author could appreciate. But because I have to be almost naked when I play Hentai Kamen, no stunt- man was available and I had to do all the action scenes myself.

TJ: Who is your favorite actor? Who is your favorite actress?
SUZUKI: I like Jeremy Renner. He used to act in independent movies, but when he acts in major movies, he penetrates what he believes. I like his attitude. I like Gina Gershon and Téa Leoni, typical sexy Hollywood actresses.

TJ: As you may know, Tokyo is bidding to host the 2020 Olympics. Do you think Tokyo would be a good location? Why?
SUZUKI: At first, I didn’t care that much. I thought that since the Winter Olympics were held in Nagano, we don’t have to hold it in Tokyo. But the previous Tokyo Olympics were so long ago. It would be good to hold the Olympics in Tokyo again.

TJ: According to your official site, you studied in the U.S. Why?
SUZUKI: I was influenced by my father who is a global type of person. I decided to study abroad when I was a high school student. I lived with a host family in Oklahoma, and enjoyed a real American country life.

TJ: What kind of roles would you like to try in the future?
SUZUKI: I’d like to play a Japanese immigrant in a foreign country such as Brazil. The other is the main character of my favorite Japanese manga, “City Hunter.” He is thirty-something years old, so I would like to play it within five years or so.

TJ: What other goals do you have for the future?
SUZUKI: I like acting especially in movies. And I would like to act globally. My Japanese identity is the biggest advantage for me to act in foreign countries. So I would like to make the most of this factor. I can speak English but I can never become native. Therefore I will look for a role I can play as an English-speaking Japanese.

TJ: According to the off icial site, you like boxing. Do you still enjoy it?
SUZUKI: I used to box, but these days I don’t.

TJ: Do you have any other hobbies?
SUZUKI: I like sewing, but I’m not so good at cooking. I am good at card magic.

TJ: What advice would you give to someone starting out in their acting career?
SUZUKI: Don’t give up! Even when facing many failures in auditions, the key is to keep trying. I would like to use this movie quote from “Rocky Balboa”: “Life is not about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.” tj

Gatchaman © Tatsunoko / 2013 "Gatchaman" Movie Production Committee Showing at TOHO cinemas throughout Japan after Sat. August 24, 2013


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Written By:

Miyuki Kawai


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