Sato Takeru interview
Sato Takeru as Himura Kenshin
‘If Kenshin steps over his limits, Sato Takeru also should have to.’
Sato Takeru admirably acted as Kenshin, exceeding the last film. What does he say?
The two-parter, the sequels and the last of the series, reaches beyond the bounds of the films.
‘Kenshin would run on the roof’.
What his cutaneous feeling seeks for.
He is on the screen with more fierceness. Himura Kenshin is there with even more depth. It’s very obvious if you see the movie, but just listening to Sato Takeru, who acted as Kenshin to the last, will make you realize it.
‘Two years have passed and I’ve got older by two years, so Kenshin may have grown up, too. I did my best in the last film and there must be something I could do only at that time. But when I see it now, including actions, I can’t help noticing flaws and faults. I had an intention to get rid of them. Kenshin this time is especially carrying the burdens. I wanted to depict not only his force, but his strength, righteousness, and awesomeness as a human being. So if he appears to you as such, I’ll be happy.’
As for actions, for example, as Sato Takeru said, he went to practice and training quite a lot and ‘went to the gym for physical preparation’. Those efforts led to his words: ‘I’d like to dash on the roof’ —-
‘While thinking of a plan with our action team, I said so. Then they let me dash (lol). Unexpectedly, it was not so scary. Well, I don’t remember anymore … might have been scary (lol)’.
He playfully said, ‘Actually I wanted to run on the water, but it was really impossible (lol)’. But dashing on the roof is just as extraordinary, I should say. It is not so easy to carry off.
Giving out such words abruptly, and making it a reality shows ‘the strength, righteousness, and awesomeness’ of Sato Takeru himself. And that, his idea is not a passing whim. It is based on physiology of an actor, or even physiology of Kenshin, Sato says. ‘Kenshin would most likely to dash on the roof, you know’. That conviction drives his body. On the other hand, he never rushes recklessly following his sense.
‘I’m relieved no one was so seriously injured that we had to stop shooting. Getting injured was nothing special at the shooting site. Injury was just a matter of odds. In order to reduce the possibility of injury, we had no choice but to decrease the numbers of moving seriously, do the test as slowly as we could, and did the action only once as the actual filming. All we could do to take measures against injury was to stay sharp without losing our concentration. But I’m glad we managed to complete the shooting without stopping. It is itself a miracle.’
He is excellent at a sense of balance. It can also be said about his action, and he is excellent at it as a performer, freeing himself and taking personal responsibility as an actor. It’s because he has a good sense of balance that he was able to decide objectively that Kenshin would dash on the roof, and put it into action subjectively.
Strength can mean coolness. Instant judgment and scrupulous ability to overcome difficulties: in addition to them, taking a calm look-around, he actually shows his talent. There certainly is something that can be noticed only when you draw back. Kenshin’s strength belongs to that kind and Sato Takeru, who embodied the strength, is also calm. The fusion of action and acting is an important factor in this film. It can’t be realized unless you put emotion on both action and acting, while you follow the procedure and comply with the sequence. That work also requires calmness, and is a challenge.
‘Actually it was the most important part and we did it after thorough calculation. As you said, action is a sequence. Something like ‘He comes this way, so I fight back this way’, just like a mathematical formula. We did it first. After finishing it, we considered how to fuse the acting to that action, doing the action with other actors in practice. We calculated all, say, ‘This character must say this line at this timing’, tried it in that pattern, considered again, ‘I got the feeling like this, so I’d like to change my action in this way’, and went on with fine-tuning. For any action scene, they gave us two days before the shooting to do this kind of work. So when the shooting started, my emotion went along with my action because it had been constructed after full calculation. That was the flow. We took a long time to fuse acting to action. It was really important work.’