Actor Ken Mitsuishi.

He plays a variety of roles with his natural acting skills and is a great supporting actor.

It has been 46 years since his debut, and he has appeared in over 500 productions so far.

He is an actor who supports so many works that it can be said that ``before you know it, he's on screen.''

Mitsuishi's encounter with a certain film director changed his approach to acting, and he says, ``My individuality lies in my lack of individuality.''

What kind of actor did you arrive at?

(Interviewer: Announcer Kazuki Kobe; Interview: Announcer Tetsushi Minami)

“Interview starts here” missed broadcast

*Missed broadcast will be available until 7:53 a.m. on Friday, March 1st.

Is lack of individuality unique?

This time, we interviewed Mitsuishi at the Kokura Showakan, a long-established movie theater in his hometown of Kitakyushu.

It was destroyed in a fire last year and was rebuilt at the end of last year.

Mr. Mitsuishi had visited the venue many times for stage greetings and other events, and was looking forward to its reopening.

I sat down on the seat, which was still brand new, and listened carefully to his story.


When I look at Mr. Mitsuishi's role, I get the impression that he leaves a good presence and accent rather than coming out with a bang.

Do you have an ideal image as an actor?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

Ideal...That's right.

The only thing you can do is what suits you.

First and foremost, I want to do it in a well-balanced manner, without overdoing it, and as faithfully as possible to the director's wishes.

It means playing the role given to me sincerely.

That's it, isn't it?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

When I played the role of a fisherman, I lit a fire with the fishermen on the scene.

Then the assistant director came over and said, ``Mr. Mitsuishi, Mr. Mitsuishi.''

Take a quick look at the faces of the four or five fishermen who are holding the fire.

I was there too, right?

I looked it over and went again.

"Mitsuishi-san," he said.

Even though I’m here (laughs).

When I said, ``Oh, there you are,'' he said, ``Why, he's dressed up as a fisherman.''

I think that's a great compliment.


Dressed perfectly.

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

Get used to the fishermen.

But for example, Ken Takakura has a kind of personality that oozes out of him.

No matter what kind of costume Takakura wears, I think her personality transcends the costume and shines through.

I think the assistant director would also say ``Mr. Takakura'' if he came along.

I guess I'm buried there (lol).

That's both good and bad.

It's probably a really good thing, though.

I guess you could call it ``individuality without individuality.''

I think that's just the right height for me.

Suddenly starring in the world of acting

Mitsuishi's acting career began at the age of 17.

He was invited by a high school classmate to audition for the movie ``Hakatakko Junjo,'' and was chosen to play the main character, Rokupei Go.

Although he had no acting experience, he suddenly made his acting debut with the lead role in a movie.


It's an amazing story for a high school student to suddenly star in a movie.

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

Yes, now that I think about it.

Even now, when I walk around the streets of Hakata, I hear people say, ``Oh, Roppei!'' from the store owners.

When you were young, it was a little embarrassing.

No, no, I was already thinking that not only ``Hakatakko Junjo'' but also many different works were coming out now, but now that I look back, I realized that I had received a truly great treasure. That's what I always think.


In the world of actors, what kind of actor did you imagine you wanted to be?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

Well, in a sense, I chose a career.

Looks like I got a job.

I might be a little disappointed with the words, but that's what I had in mind.

Just like everyone who graduates from high school and joins a company somewhere, I chose to be an actor as a profession and entered the world of acting.

That's what I think now.


I'll become a big star in one shot!

Like, not as an entry point, but as a job opportunity?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

That's right.

I guess that's what I felt like I had a place to belong here.

The town of Kurosaki where I was born and raised

Mr. Mitsuishi's hometown, Kitakyushu City, is a metropolis known as the ``Iron City,'' which flourished around its steel mills.

The Kurosaki district, where I was born and raised, is located in the western part of the city and was bustling with people, including workers and shoppers.

While walking along the shopping street that stretches from JR Kurosaki Station


What kind of place is the shopping district in Kurosaki?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

There was a shopping street radiating out from Kurosaki Station, and although it was a really narrow corner, it was packed with shops and other things.

I was born in 1961, and there were a lot of people there in the 1960s and 1970s.

There were a lot of movie theaters, and I used to go see movies like Godzilla and the Wakadaisho series.

When I asked Mr. Mitsuishi's childhood friend, Keiji Hori, who lived with him from elementary school to high school in Kurosaki, about Mr. Mitsuishi as a boy...

Childhood friend Keiji Hori


What kind of person was Mr. Mitsuishi at school?

(Mr. Hori)

You were acting like an idiot.

It was a good copy of the form, or something like that.

Arrange the commercial well and show it in front of the children.

I was in the choir, so I was at the choir camp.


Mr. Mitsuishi, did you do that?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

Everyone puts on some kind of entertainment.

So we would do skits and do things like that.


Did you like doing things in front of people?

(Mr. Hori)

It was interesting.

You don't know the word embarrassing.

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

That's not true, I was just shy.

(Mr. Hori)

Tell me to lie.

Then, we headed to a park near the shopping street, which Mr. Mitsuishi has particularly fond memories of.

It is here that he grew up observing the various adults who passed through Kurosaki.

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

This place is called Sankaku Park.

The park is exactly triangular in shape.

Among the many roads that intersect, this is the only park I popped into.

It was the kind of place where people would come here on their bicycles, stop and play.

It's really a part of the living area, and there are many places where you can drink alcohol, and there are also many places where women can hang out.

There was something like that next to a park in my living area.

There were all sorts of things in this town, so they were mixed together.

So there are people from all kinds of occupations in this town.

From office workers to workers to business people.

There were also outlaws.


How did Mitsuishi-san view such adults?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

I guess you could call it the true nature of adults.

I've seen people come to work feeling refreshed in the morning, but then return home drunk after having a drink somewhere.

It's a small town, but we kids grew up watching adults crowded together there.

In that sense, I feel like I've seen the ecology of all kinds of adults.

The turning point in my 30s

Mr. Mitsuishi chose a career as an actor and moved to Tokyo after graduating from high school.

He got off to a good start, appearing in popular works such as ``Oshin'' and ``Otoko wa Tsurai yo'', but around the age of 30, he began to feel that his career as an actor had stalled.

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

Work has definitely decreased.

I really want to get my hands on it.

I guess it was a lack of professionalism.

It wasn't all good work, but I did a lot of things that made me wonder why I had to do this.

But it's a profession after all, so I thought I would do something like this.


What was your lifestyle and income like at that time?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

At that time, I was renting an office in advance.


That's a nice way to put it (lol).

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

I used my office's savings and my wife's savings.

I think it was like that.

I talked to my manager at the time and thought there was something I could do to make things better.

If someone asks me if I should go and see them, I go to meet them, and if someone asks me to write a script, I write one.

I did a lot of things like that.

That situation changed when I met Shinji Aoyama, a film director who also hails from Kitakyushu.

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

His name is over there, director Shinji Aoyama.

(*The names of actors and film directors with whom he has a deep connection are embroidered on the seats of the Kokura Showakan.)

(Kitakyushu City) Director Shinji Aoyama, who is from Moji, is making a movie called ``Helpless,'' and the setting is Kitakyushu. Also, the language is in the Kitakyushu dialect, so I was given the chance to play the role.

Around that time, I started doing more and more things, like working on late-night dramas with directors who were close to me, like Aoyama-san and Iwai Shunji-san.

From then on, I gradually started getting more work.

In the movie "Helpless" (1996) directed by Aoyama, he plays the role of a yakuza who is the key character in the story.

It was a role he had never played before, but he made his presence felt with his performance in the Kitakyushu dialect.

After that, he became an essential actor in director Aoyama's works, changing the way he approached acting.


Why do you think your role in "Helpless" fit in so well, or was it so well received?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

I was born in Yawata and Kurosaki, and Mr. Aoyama is from Moji.

The words are slightly different, but the basics are basically the same.

It was much easier to do than speaking the standard Japanese written in the script, and it had a raw, earthy feel to it, which was also appreciated.

I guess it's more of a weapon than using standard Japanese.

Rather than growing up in a different city, I thought I would have met people from a variety of different occupations and industries.

That may actually be the source of his acting.

I guess that's why I was able to play such a role in ``Helpless.''

The changing image of an actor


Mr. Mitsuishi, did you have any new sensations or responses?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

No, I don't think there is any response to that.

I'm just obsessed with it every day.

However, up until that point, I felt like the actor I had imagined myself to be when I was in my 20s was falling apart.


How did Mr. Aoyama make it like that?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

I can't say specifically that it's like this, but that's what I thought when I saw the movie, and that's what I thought on set.

To put it in an extreme way, it doesn't matter whether you cry or laugh while saying the lines in this scene.

I felt like I should think about it and give it a try, because I'm going to make a movie.

In Aoyama's films, I felt that he was making a film that didn't seem to be shaken by such trivial matters.

Around that time, my thought process, or rather, my approach as an actor, started to change.


Until then, Mr. Mitsuishi, what was it like to be an actor?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

It's true that the movie becomes much better when you act or do something like that.

I often tell young actors, ``Come back and leave your mark on me.''

That kind of thing is already part of an actor's ego.

I guess I gradually started to think that even if actors were involved in movies, they were nothing, or that they wouldn't be of any help.

But really, it's one of the parts.


Until then, will Mr. Mitsuishi also try to leave his mark?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

Of course, of course.

That's what I thought when I was young.


Did your feelings change significantly after meeting director Shinji Aoyama, and did that have a significant impact on the way you approached your acting career?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

I felt like we were participating in order to make a good movie, to take a good shot.

It's not about what I think, but what the director wants me to do, and I just want to do it faithfully.

If the director tells you to say this line like this, do it faithfully.

It's because of this person's work.


As a fun-loving boy named Mitsuishi, were you satisfied with the way he acted and how he acted?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

But it's not just directors like Mr. Aoyama who really put themselves out there, and there are a lot of films with a comedic touch.

At times like that, the old Mitsuishi boy comes out.

I enjoy it that way.

It would be fun if we could do it in a flexible way.

Act with individuality without individuality

Last year, I starred in the movie ``The Dream I Got Away'', in which I played the role of a teacher who is nearing retirement age and worries about his family and health.

Director Ryutaro Ninomiya, who admires Mitsuishi, wrote the script specifically for Mitsuishi in order to make the most of his ``individuality without individuality.''

Mr. Mitsuishi also approached the role as himself, without making things up.


Your role was the vice principal of a school of your generation, but did you have any intention of playing the role in this way?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

I discussed with the director that I really wanted to portray the life of an ordinary old man, a common man that you can find anywhere.

I thought for a moment that I didn't want to do something like this was the highlight scene at the end.


Playing an ordinary person.

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

Yes, ordinary people.

I just happened to highlight some days in his daily life.

It's like when I was waiting at a traffic light, I happened to spot a guy who stopped there.

I felt like this movie just happened to focus on a few days in his daily life.


I'm not trying to make things exciting, but here I'm not trying to act like this, but just keep things simple.

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

Yes, as much as possible.


Why is that better?

Why like that?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

No, that's because I thought it was a movie like that.

I was told that the script written by director Ninomiya was for that kind of movie.

But I'm an actor after all, so there were some parts where I felt like I needed to put in a little more effort.

So that's a bit of a point for me to reflect on.

I feel like I shouldn't have done anything more.


When that happens, it's time to put aside the need to really stand out or leave a mark.

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

Yes, that's right.


Mr. Mitsuishi, what kind of work do you want to do in the future, and what kind of roles do you want to play as an actor?

(Mr. Mitsuishi)

Regarding the job, there is nothing I can do about it unless I get an offer.

In order to receive that offer, I always feel like I want to stay active.

So I put out a lot of so-called samples and works of mine, and told people that Mitsuishi could do this, or that he would become like this when he got older.

Well, let's try using this, so we have to come up with various flavored potato chips.

Then I'd say, ``I'm going to make potato chips that are a combination of this and this at Mitsuishi.''

I don't know why I used the analogy of potato chips (lol), but

I really do my best to do the job I'm given.

I would like to continue to be active so that I can receive offers.

Other than that, I'm healthy.

If I'm not healthy, I can't go to work.

“Interview starts here” missed broadcast

*Missed broadcast will be available until 7:53 a.m. on Friday, March 1st.