I sincerely congratulate the launch of Honda-senseifs (teacherfs) website, which was created in response to the demands of domestic and foreign fans.
was year 1958, when the Japanese film scene was still filled with
vitality, that I remember my first visit to the Toho studio in Kinuta,
The staff were running around even on the weekend, the studio
was crowded with tourists and visitors who came by bus, and stars whom
I only saw on the big screen were casually chatting and laughing in the
café. I was 22 years old, a senior in college. Back then, I
thought movies were only something you go see in the theater. It
was not like I had to become an actor no matter what it took. I
did not have any experience in acting either. I am not sure if
the timing was lucky or not, but it was around the same time as my
final exams when I was given the opportunity to make an appearance in a
film. At the time, I had only popped my head in 2-3 times at the
actors training facility, which was located within the film studio. But
producer Tomoyuki Tanaka and director Ishiro Honda approached me,
initially with a lighter intention, as if to do a simple screen test
for a role as part of a city couple (a part which did not even have a
name) in a film titled gH-Manh.
The scene was of a couple
walking along a rainy evening street, and they are startled when they
see the H-Man come out of the manhole. It was only a 1 cut
appearance, along with many extras. But I remember as if it was
only yesterday, feeling surprised and overwhelmed by the amount of
staff on set as well as everyonefs enthusiasm.
I am not sure if
this camera-test-like way of filming was necessarily a good thing or
not, but soon after this film I was given the lead role for a film
called gMikkokusha wa Darekah (1958 dir.: Hisatora Kumagai). I
had then worked on 6 films in a row during the following year (1959), 8
films in 1960, and 7 films in 1961. After receiving many
opportunities to appear in so many films, I was then given the chance
to appear in Tohofs gshacho (president) seriesh (a series of comedy films Toho made between 1956-1970), Honda-senseifs
1964 films gGhidrah, the Three-Headed Monsterh and gDogorah, as well as
the emoney-makerf films by director Akira Kurosawa and director Inagaki.
was recently released on DVD by Toho, and upon working on the audio
commentary for this film, I had a chance to see this work once
again. Forty years has passed, but you can never sense it and is
still a very entertaining movie.
I am sure that everyone who had
worked with Honda-sensei in the past had never seen the director get
angry nor heard him raise his voice on the filming sets. He was
such a warm person and a true gentleman.
One early summer day,
the director had a BBQ party at his home in Okamotocho. Family,
friends and staff all had a merry time until early morning. There
was sensei, with this wonderful smile on his face as he enjoyed his
drinks with all of the guests, the same as how
he was on the film sets. To this day, this image is embedded in my mind.
I have appeared in approximately 100 films. I would like to thank director Honda for shooting my very first scene.