Get to know more about Takeru Sato and his preparation for the film “Rurouni Kenshin” from this 2012 interview.
Tenasia, the Korean news agency, interviewed Takeru Sato in South Korea during his visit to promote “Rurouni Kenshin” at the 2012 Busan International Film Festival (BIFF)
This is my treat for all of you on the occasion of Takeru’s 27th Birthday.(^v^)
*In the Q & A, 10 represent 10asia and the interviewer.
BIFF 2012: Sato Takeru, “Fascinated with the strongest man, Kenshin”
translated by Pechumori
article released in 2012.10.08
There are times when the charisma of the character dominates the entire work. The manga series that started in Japan in 1994 by Watsuki Nobuhiro, which also gained enormous popularity in South Korea, “Rurouni Kenshin”, is such a case. The gentleness of the wanderer Himura Kenshin, who lived after the Meiji Restoration, protecting people with his reverse blade sword is contradictory to his old character as a cruel assassin.
After the movie was released in Japan last August, Director Keishi Otomo introduced the charisma of Kenshin in the movie “Rurouni Kenshin” to Korea during the Open Cinema event of the 17th Busan International Film Festival. In the center, there is the actor, Takeru Sato who played the role of Kenshin. From playing charming and cute roles in Fuji TV’s “Mei-chan’s Butler”, Asahi TV’s “Kamen Rider Den-O”, NTV’s “Q10” and the movie “Beck”, he showed a masculine appearance in NHK’s “Ryomaden”. At 24 years old, Takeru Sato’s eyes and emotions gave life to Kenshin.
I met Takeru Sato in Busan. A handsome actor with a mysterious charm who shifts from seriousness to laughter.
10: “Rurouni Kenshin”. This was based on the hero Himura Kenshin that was famous in Japan as well as in South Korea. I wonder, how did you feel about playing the role?
Sato Takeru: I was familiar with the original manga since childhood. At that time, in my young mind, the “strongest man” seems to be Kenshin (laughs) because he can overpower so many people and also looks cool. I never imagined that they would make it into a movie. Of course, it would be great if I can portray the role of Kenshin, however, I never expected that I would take over the role. Aside from the character, the work itself is very special. The determination and passion to prepare for it is exceptional. It was a good experience for me as an actor to appear in this great work. I cannot sleep because of the excitement of being able to work at a site everyday, together with many actors and even award winning actors.
10: The appearance of Kenshin in the movie is almost similar to the original, such as the hairstyle and the costumes. Was this intentional?
Sato Takeru: I tried to be the same as can be. However, I did worry so much because I don’t want to simply imitate but to look realistic. These days, a lot of people imitate the anime characters by wearing similar clothes, right? But in order for the appearance to catch the exquisite balance between comics and reality, we had to arrange the clothes several times. I think this is a necessary part of the process because the actor who directly requests it, should be satisfied himself. There was an exchange of opinions held in front of the mirror to catch Kenshin’s attitudes. While repeatedly doing it after a week or so, you really feel like you’ve become Kenshin. It is hard to express the words, but it is the dialogue. Next thing I have to worry about is the performance.
10: I think the part that has been presented well in the movie was Kenshin’s tremendous speed in swordsmanship. I wonder, how did you prepare to shoot the action scenes and where did you focus on when performing them?
Sato Takeru: Obviously, the preparation time in this work is longer than in others. Two months prior to the shooting, rather than the speed, I first started to practice avoiding cuts and fixing my position then I enhanced my speed. Performing action scenes was a lot of fun and I learned it quickly. Also, I focused more on performing the defensive moves rather than the offensive (attack moves). In the movie, there were many scenes where Kenshin did not want to draw out his sword and he had to avoid the attack of the opponents, I wanted to look good in those scenes.
10: I heard that your specialty was break dancing. Did it help when you had to perform action scenes?
Sato Takeru: It has definitely helped. In Japanese swordsmanship, you cannot do the correct position if you don’t have good flexibility. If your small joints are not flexible, you would not be able to do the proper position when you spread your legs wide open. Break dance training helped me a lot to be flexible.
10: From being an assassin to becoming a wanderer who defends people, Kenshin did not have much dialogue. Was it difficult to express your feelings as Kenshin?
Sato Takeru: Actually, before the shooting started, the director and I had a lot of discussion about this. In this work, when emotions are expressed using action instead of dialogue, it was an effort to convey his feelings when he fights to stay alive.
10: Even if it’s action, Kenshin’s emotions were being expressed well through his eyes.
Sato Takeru: I know that emotions can be seen through the eyes. About 80% of this work is natural and 20% intentionally done. There is a big difference in Kenshin’s eyes when he is cold blooded and when he is gentle. I wish to properly show this original charm of Kenshin in the movie. So, when I was gentle, I deliberately blinked my eyes a lot. But I think that it is good to act with gentle eyes since it was reflected in many parts.
10: I have thought of your performances so far, Kenshin is such an extreme image, Shibata Kento (from “Mei-chan no Shitsuji”) and Koyuki (from “Beck”) are cute and playful, but you changed into a masculine image with Okada (in “Ryomaden”) What is your real personality?
Sato Takeru: Actually, before I became an actor, I was an inconspicuous, ordinary child. I was shy towards people. My mother would make me greet her close friends “Greet immediately”, I would hear such advice. Even now, my manager pointed out that I have been unable to greet well. (laughs)
10: I heard that you got cast in the streets during high school. Was being an actor your original dream?
Sato Takeru: During High School, I only had a vague idea of how good an actor’s job is. But I do not know how to become an actor. I was living ordinarily, suddenly, one day, the casting company asked if I was interested in acting and I started to act. Five or six years since then, because of the enthusiasm, it has been personally satisfying, so far. By acting, you meet many people, but acting in itself is interesting. it is different from the work of an average employee. It is fun and exciting to enter another world and learn from it.
10: Looking at your filmography, you have been playing a variety of roles and consistently appeared in works of many genres. It seems that your style is accumulating experience slowly, rather than hurrying up.
Sato Takeru: I try to do my best in each work. So, even when you get out of a previous character, then you have to start with another character, the impression from the previous work must be discharged first. There should be a little rest before you enter the next work and put what is called “the soul” in the Japanese expression, into the new work. I want to show different aspects of my performance. If I appeared masculine in this movie, next time, I want to do a comedy.
10: What image would you like to have as an actor?
Sato Takeru: It seems that there is no such thing. Rather than thinking too deeply, it is more reasonable to play it naturally, without excessive stress. In planning for the distant future, I do not know what may happen ten years from now, for me to concentrate on my image. I have not given it any serious thoughts.
10: “Rurouni Kenshin” will be released in South Korea in November, but before that, you did not seem to have a lot of opportunity to see the country. I wonder if you ever enjoyed any Korean program or knew of an actor.
Sato Takeru: I’ve seen the KBS drama “Iris”. I think the actress Kim Tae Hee is pretty. I hope we will have a chance to work together.
10: Seems really serious. (laughs)
Sato Takeru: Hahaha. You caught me?
note: In case you’re curious, Kim Tae Hee is considered as one of the most beautiful actresses in Korea. Her last known work was in the 2015 drama entitled “Yong Pal”. She has been in a relationship with Korean actor and singer, Rain for several years now.