'Tenisu no Oujisama'
Shirota Yuu |Independent Interview
Shirota Yuu, born in 1985, plays the role of Tezuka Kunimitsu in Musical 'Tenisu no Oujisama', and boasts rising popularity. He has done various works, including television shows such as TBS's 'Hanamaru MARKET' ('04~'05), NTV's 'Hiramekin GOLD' as well as Cultural Broadcast Radio's 'MARVELOUS RADIO VIBRATION' (Sat. 25:30~). This time he's also working on a lead role in 'Jun Bride' (early summer release). He is also a member of the young male acting trouple 'D-BOYS'
Q1: You've already participated in 'Tenisu no Oujisama' through the musicals, but this time you did a movie; what was the biggest difference between performing in the movie and musicals?
The method of expression for a film differs completely from that of stage. At first, I took the Tezuka I had played in the musicals and brought him to the film, but the director told me that wouldn't do. So, I thought about what was wrong with it, and once more I re-created Tezuka from the start. When I had done so the director told me 'That's good,' and I was glad.
So it was really difficult for me, the extreme difference between a musical and a film performance, I struggled. I was playing the same character, so it was difficult to make the distinction. Furthermore, I'd been doing the musicals for over a year, so it was hard to separate myself from that. On the stage, you use both arms, both legs, your whole body to make your performance, but in a movie, when you're in front of the camera, the face is important. If I made a sad face in the musical, for example, the audience would never be able to see it, so ultimately you use the body to express yourself. That difference in the method of expression was difficult.
Q2: When you first read the original manga, what did you think?
I hadn't read the original before, but when I got the part, I began to read it, and I thought it was an interesting work with numerous unique characters. However, this comic is hugely popular, so the pressure on me was huge. But I put everything I had into playing the role, and I thought, 'Even if I feel pressure there's nothing I can do about it now,' so I came to realise that all I could do now was get serious about the role. If I give it everything I've got, I won't feel the pressure. I confronted the role with that strong determination.
Q: By the way, which character do you like, personally?
(Played by Aiba Hiroki) Fuji, I think. Because he's like, cool and beautiful (laugh).
Q3: Although you performed alongside people of about the same age as you, how were things at the set? And was there anyone you got along with in particular?
It was fun! More than half of the training camp was painful, but because there were lots of people my age there, we encouraged each other and told each other 'Let's do our best!', and sometimes we would goof around together, and so even though it was a strict set, there were fun times, and I was able to really enjoy it.
Although I was on really close terms with everyone, I especially got close with the newly come Sainei-kun. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to connect much with Kishitani Gorou and others -- we weren't able to speak that much -- but I had lots of fun with the other members.
Q4: At training camp, what sort things did you do for fun?
The game center was popular. We were in Gifu for about three weeks, and on days when we finished up early or on days off, we would go and relax by playing coin-slot games and such at a game center about 15 minutes away by bus. Also, we would read manga. The staff brought punk-type manga for us and we all took turns reading them (laugh).
Also, we had one full day off, so we rented a rental car and went out for virtually the whole day. I and Kotani (Yoshikazu) drove, and we went to Gifu's castles, to Nagoya, and after that we drove around and around the mountain roads, enjoying ourselves. I like driving. I haven't done it much lately, but before, even when I was in Tokyo, I would drive every day.
Q5: It seems that during practice you incurred an injury, what sort of injury was it?
Before filming I stepped on a tennis ball during practice and I fell and pulled all my ligaments. I was really depressed when I thought I wouldn't be able to be in the movie. It was really, really painful. But the director said to me, 'You found it painful, so recall that pain when doing the scene when Tezuka breaks his elbow.' So now I think I'm glad that I got injured. But I was on crutches for a week, and it was very painful. Everyone, please be careful (laugh).
When you saw the finished version, what did you think?
It was really interesting and cool. The CG was great, and there were parts where the CG really helped me out. The truth is, it seemed like the director didn't want to use much CG, and at first he told us something like, 'We're not going to use any CG at all, so prepare to do such a film.' I thought, 'Oh, it's impossible to do that,' and I was depressed (laugh). But we didn't really use that much CG. Just for fast rallies and special moves. The last rally in around the third take of the Kaidoh/Inui VS Ootori/Shishidou match was OK'ed, and about 6 of the rallies were done without CG.
Q: How are your tennis skills?
It was the first time I'd played tennis. Because in the musical, all that's involved is swinging the racket. At first, I had a lot of home runs, I launched countless balls into the sky (laugh). However, I can hit them properly now. It's really strange. They land well within the court.
Q7: What do you when you're off work?
Lately I've suddenly been off work a lot, so I just spend time hanging around the house. I watch movies, I watch DVDs. I like mystery movies and movies that make me cry. The recent hit 'A Moment to Remember' was good. It was really good, and it made me cry a lot. Also, 'Sou'. I liked that too.
Q8: You said you like music, but what genre do you like?
There isn't a genre or someone I like in particular, but if pressed I would say Kobukuro, I've been listening to them often lately. Also, Utada Hikaru, Mr. Children, Glay, KinKi Kids, and so on. It's very varied. If I think a song is good, I don't worry much about who wrote it or who sang it. I don't listen to Western music very often. I place a high importance on lyrics, and, though I speak a bit of English, I can't understand everything, so I don't listen to it often. I'm studying English now, so when I can understand everything, I want to listen to Western music. I love singing the most. I play instruments, but I like just simply singing along with music.
Q: Do you go to karaoke?
I go very, very often. I go with the D-BOYS and I go with my high school classmates.
Q9: Are there an actors you'd like to perform with next time?
I'd like to perform alongside my classmates. I went to Hori High School, so there were lots of people in my class in the same industry as me, but we don't run into each other very often, so I'd like to try performing with them. In my high school days I would got out for karaoke on the way home with NEWS's Yamashita Tomohisa and Koike Teppei, since we were the same age and in the same class.
Q10: Your personality in one word?
To put it simply, I'm dog-like. I warm up to everyone and I'll talk to anyone. Although I'm kind of bad at talking to older women (laugh). I'm not shy very often. I like talking. Though I think I might be a bit loud (laugh).
Q11: Finally, please tell us about your upcoming plans and give a message to Hollywood Channel users.
Very soon 'Jun Bride' will be released. It was a movie that was filmed on an incredibly short schedule, but I did my best and every day I woke up early in the morning and worked until late at night. I want to continue to do my best and create emotionally moving performances.
Hollywood Channel users, another fun column is in the works, so please look forward to it.
Whispers From the Editing Deparment
Shirota Yuu, on whom we're currently publishing the serial column 'YOUx2DAYS'. Contrary to the relaxed side of Shirota this column presents, in person he is a youth so boisterous he shines. The moment he entered the room, he said 'Hello! Sorry to have kept you waiting!' and made his entrance with a kira kira facial expression. It's rare to meet with such a boisterous person, so I ended up being rather intimidated.
During the interview his eyes were clear and he listened carefully to my questions, and he spoke his opinions with surprising precision. Shirota occasionally showed grown-up facial expressions. At the end he was considerate and said, 'I'm sorry for talking about all these strange things! Was it OK?' It was an interview that made me realise that I've become old (cries).
Shirota Yuu | Independent Interview
Yoshida Satoshi's legendary work is finally adapted into a movie! Loving earnestly, getting hurt -- a painful, pure tale of the love everyone experiences in their youth, 'Jun Bride'. Shirota Yuu threw himself into the role of a youth who learns of love and thus puts an end to his days as a delinquent. Shirota, an actor fast gaining popularity, spoke to us, even on private topics.
Q1: This time your role had many difficult scenes, did you have any misgivings when you read the script?
I read the script, and the instant I got to the bed scene, I thought, 'Ahhh, no!' I think that was the biggest misgiving I had. Because when I entered the world of show business, I thought for sure that I would never do a love scene.
Q: Eh, why is that?
Because I didn't want to (laugh). It's embarrasing, you know? It's embarrassing, and, really, to expose my naked body and then to show it to everyone, that's unthinkable (laugh). So, while that gave me the most pause, there was other stuff in the script, such as smoking and drinking -- things you can do after you've turned 20 -- such things that I was looking forward to, and so I felt a little attracted to the delinquent role. When I was in my teens, I wasn't very mischevious, so this role was new to me and I enjoyed it.
Q2: Did you have an easy time shooting the bed scene?
No, we did three takes. The first time, I was totally nervous, and I felt like I had done just as the director told me, but after the second time, I thought, 'I've got to get serious about this, this is work too, and as a pro I've got to do it properly. All right, I'll do my best!' and when I got to the set, I raised raised my mood by going, 'All right, I'll do this with vigour!', and I destroyed the embarrassing atmosphere. I was pretty nervous, after all. My co-star Kawamura (Aki), the staff, everyone, were also nervous, so in order to break through that too, I said 'All right, let's do it, let's do it!' and I made everyone laugh and calmed the place down, and then this 'It's not a bed scene at all!' atmosphere began to come about, and then we were able to shoot the scene very naturally.
What did you think about it after seeing the movie?
Um ... (laugh) I didn't really want to see it and I just felt awkward. I was hoping that the bed scene would totally be cut out (laugh). But, well, it was a valuable experience.
Q: When you do movies, you might have such a scene again.
Well, that is what it is (laugh).
Q3: Because you were playing a delinquent character, there were things in the script such as yelling and acting violent, wasn't that also difficult?
Oh, yes, but I really got into my role so I felt that it came out naturally, and my movements and all of that were ad-libbed. The director didn't tell me what to do, I moved freely, so it wasn't difficult. I think that if he had said 'Do this,' it would have been difficult, but I was allowed to do as I liked.
Q: The director allowed you to play the role freely.
Yes, the director didn't come up with many rules, so it was very easy.
Q4: How many days did filming take?
The filming took ... How long do you think it was?
Q: Was it very short? Like ten days.
Close! My part took nine days. Though I think the movie itself took about 10-12 or 13 days to film. To have done the filming in nine days is pretty incredible, I think. 'Tenisu no Oujisama' took a month and a half to film, and, with the inclusion of 'Zoku Jun Bride', 'Jun Bride' was a much longer work, so the fact that it took 1/4 of the time 'Tenisu no Oujisama' took to film really surprised me. When I watched the movie too, I thought, 'Ooh, awesome!'. To have made something to that extent in such a short time, it's great.
Q: The preparation period for 'Tenisu no Oujisama' was also long, right?
Including the preparation period, it was half a year before we finished filming, and it was a full year until the opening.
Q: You read the original 'Jun Bride' manga. What impression did you get from it?
Manga has its own particular manga world-view, but, because I read the manga, it was easy to picture things, I could see the flow of the story well. However, in the middle of the story, the character Junko becomes a bit incomprehensible. In the manga, she goes a little bit insane. Her facial expression also changes, her faces becomes demon-like. But in the film, that change in Junko is not shown through her face, but is indicated through her speech and conduct. However, the lines are very faithful to the original work, and the content of the story is close to the original. I think that with that added plus, this has become a great movie.
Q: What do you think of the role you played, Chaboo?
He's 19, and at the time I was 19, and though we're of the same age, when I read the manga, he came off as very adult-like to me. I wonder why ... At any rate, he didn't really seem like the same age as me.
Q: There's the era as well.
Yes, since it was set in the 80s.
Q: Were there any parts of him that you share?
Having consideration for others. Because I also aim to live my life without forgetting to be considerate to others. His feelings toward Junko in the latter half of the film, how he thinks about things from the perspective of other people, and his considerate feelings for the other person, in that regard, I resemble Chaboo quite a bit, I thought.
Q7: What impression did you have of living in a crummy 70s-80s apartment without a bath?
Somehow, when I looked at it, I found it quite wonderful. Living together, going to the public bath, that isn't very common now. I thought that that simplistic feel was very nice, and I would also like people who have actually experienced such a love to see this movie. The original work is set in the 80s, so for the rooms and sets we used old locations. So I definitely think that the movie will make you feel nostalgic, and will make my generation see that such a time existed, and it will give them a fresh feeling, I think. My older brother also watched the movie, and he said, 'This sort of thing, it's nice.' I also felt quite happy when I watched it.
Q: Are you a bit attracted to it?
Yes, I'd like to try it. If I just had the time and the person (laugh). Going to the public bath together, I'd like to try it~. Carrying a wash basin, we'd got to the public bath, and once we got there, I'd wait outside for her, and she would say, 'Did you wait long?' and I would say, 'Nah, I didn't wait that long,' that sort of thing (laugh). I like that. It seems corny, but you can't do that kind of thing now, so I'd like to do it.
Q: Do you know 'Kanda River'?
I know it! (starts to sing) 'You already~'. I use my red muffler as a towel ... ... isn't it? Ah! Or is it, I use my red towel as muffler (laugh)? [Note: 'Kanda River' is about lovers going to a bath house. Like in Shirota's example, the guy is left outside to wait, even though they plan to go in together. It's supposed to be 'I use my red towel as a muffler.']
Q8: If there were a girl you were in love with, do you think you would you throw away your dream and live for her, the way Chaboo did?
I don't think so (laugh). Unfortunately, as long as I have my dream, I'm not thinking about marriage at all; for the time being, my feeling is that, until I'm 30, I've decided I'm going to focus on doing the things I want to do. I'm fine with experiencing setbacks, but I want to protect myself from the sort of regret that remains late into life when you sacrifice your dream for your girlfriend; so even if I had a girlfriend, I would go out with her normally, but I would not give up my job or anything like that for her.
Q: To put it straight, after you've made your dream a reality ...
Yes, if I had to choose, my dream is more important right now. I think this might make me look bad, but those are my honest feelings.
Q: So, what is your biggest dream right now?
I would like to sing as Shirota Yuu. My recent performances have been fun, but in the end I would be really happy if I had the chance to sing in front of hundreds or ten thousands of people.
Q: Do you write songs yourself?
Yes, just in case.
Q: You play the guitar. Do you play any other instruments?
In middle school I played the saxophone, but I don't know if I could play it now ... but I think that maybe I could. In middle school I entered into competitions with the wind instrument department. Also, though it was in elementary school, I was able to play the piano a bit.
Q9: There's a sequel to this work, yes?
Yes, on DVD. I did the sequel within the nine days of shooting. I didn't think it was possible.
Q: It was probably a difficult shooting.
Ahh, it was. On top of that, we didn't use a location bus, we were on location at Tokorozawa, and the distance was also tough. House scenes were done in Tokorozawa, and for city scenes and others we would go to Hachiouji. But, there were plently of rural scenes. The sets were old-fashioned, so it's been said that the film doesn't have much of a city feel.
Q10: Though I don't know how things develop in the sequel, if it were you, Shirota-san, how do imagine the pair's future would turn out?
If it were me, I don't think I would be able to withstand everything, and I'd leave her (laugh). Because in the latter part, Junko becomes rather strange.
Q: Like, she's too much of a burden?
Burdensome, yes, burdensome. As I played the character, it felt burdensome right away. If it were really me, I think I would end up saying, 'You, you're a burden' (laugh). I want to live honestly, so I don't think telling her lies would be for her benefit, and I think it would be better to tell her. However, Chaboo and Junko, I wonder if there's a wonderful story there ... er, but I know there is (laugh). At the end, it has a very nice feel. So I want you to look forward to the sequel too.
Q10: You're over 20, do you feel that you've become an adult?
When I go out for meals with my parents and they ask me, 'Will you have a beer?', that didn't happen to me before, so at such times it hits me that I've passed the border line of 20. Also, when I receive insurance notices and stuff like that addressed to me, I think 'Oh, I'm an adult.' At any rate, after I became 20 I felt the responsiblity that I have to do everything myself.
Q: Looking back on your teen years, what sort of boy were you?
Actually, I haven't changed that much yet. I didn't suddenly change after I turned 20. I'm making 'I don't want to change' as my motto -- I think there are some parts of myself I should change, but my fundamental way of thinking is that I'm trying not to change. I started my work at 13, and that feeling hasn't changed. So, basically, from long ago, I was usually a happy-go-lucky, chatty, mood maker, and, on the other hand, sometimes I would be way too energetic and ruin the mood (laugh), and that hasn't changed at all now. When I'm not working, I go out with my friends and my energy level is ten times what it is now. I'm often told that I come off completely different at those times. I'm aiming to not change that part of myself. So, while there may be changes in my work, my personal life, particularly my inner self, won't change.
Q11: What sort of girl do you like?
A honest girl. An honest girl, but also I want her to have a part of her that will make me sometimes want to tell her, 'Hey, hey, hang in there!' I like a girl who is somewhat troubled.
Q: Well, a girl such as Junko?
I think that maybe, I would be attracted to her.
Q: You must have made the girls crazy.
I don't (laugh). Ah, but did I in middle school ...? But I don't know. What would you call making girls crazy? Girls younger than me seemed to be like, 'Shirota-senpai, he's cool~,' but girls of my own age knew my personality and seemed to be like, 'He's a loud, interesting guy,' and we'd end up being friends. So I didn't really make the girls crazy. My high school was Hori, and no one asked me out (laugh). Really, I only talked once with a girl who wasn't in my class. I would often talk with boys who weren't in my class, but I only once talked with a girl who wasn't in my class!
Q: If you had a girlfriend, what sort of dates would you like to try?
I'd like to have a date using as little money as possible. It's not that I'm a tightwad, but rather than making memories together centered around money, I think that going to a little known place, or a cheap but good restaurant, is more fun. It's more economical, and I can buy my girlfriend a present with the money I save. Most importantly, I prefer an original date plan than the usual trip to Shibuya or Odaiba.
But I don't really like going out for walks, I don't like crowds. I don't like parties much either. I'm an indoor type. I like kicking back at home the most. I have a license, so going on a car date would be good too, I think. I got my licence right away when I was 18. I'd also like to get my motorcycle licence; this year I've thought about getting it, but I haven't had enough holiday time. But one way or another, I'd like to find some free time and get my motorcycle licence.
Q12: Is there anything you're into right now?
Watching movies. Lately, I've been buying lots of DVDs. I usually only buy cheap DVDs, but now I've got 'want to watch movies syndrome', and so I'll even pay up to 4,000 yen for a movie. This week I've already bought ten DVDs.
Q: What movies interested you?
The horror film 'Creep' was interesting. Basically, horror doesn't scare me. I've watched zombie movies from the age of 5. Lately I've been interested in 'Land of the Dead', made by the god of zombie movies, George A. Romero.
When I was a child the movie that most made me think 'Oh, I'm scared~' was the 80s film 'Demons'. I watched 'Demons' and 'Demons 2' and they made me scream (laugh). I watched those when I was 5.
Q: It didn't traumatise you?
My friend got traumatised and didn't like horror films after that, but I fell in love with them, and in free study period in elementary school I would draw zombie pictures (laugh). Even though I was an elementary student, I would rent horror movies and make the room pitch-black and watch the movie. I chose a dangerous course as a person (laugh).
But of course, I don't just like horror, I also like love stories. I watched 'A Moment to Remember' recently and it made me cry. As did 'Windstruck'. Anyway, I'm into movies right now!
Whispers From the Editing Department
This is the second time we've interviewed Shirota, and as usual he was energetic and boisterous. He's got an exceptionally quick mind for a young person, and not only is he able to put his thoughts perfectly into words, he can make people laugh, his talent gives you a 'he's not just a regular guy' feeling. He's got perfect looks, he's an interesting conversationalist on top of that, and with that he can go anywhere. I can tell that his big break is coming soon. I learned that Shirota likes horror films, which was unexpected. When the talk turned to horror he got even more energetic, and when he found out that I liked horror movies too he got all excited, but because I interviewed him right before the premiere, so our time was cut short. I thought, 'I wanted to talk more with Shirota-kun about horror!'