Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Kamenashi Kazuya - The Actor : Hosts, Characters & Depp

All opinions are my own, please try to respect that. Also, please note that I'm not taking this poll seriously nor do I honestly believe it will have any impact on Kame himself. This is mostly just speculation.
So, earlier this month, GOO Ranking released the result of a poll they had set up in light of Kamenashi Kazuya's upcoming film, Ore Ore (aka It's Me, It's Me), the poll's subject being 'Wanted Acting Roles for Kamenashi Kazuya'. When I saw that this poll had taken place, I believed, quite naïvely, that this poll would have some interesting results. Actually, I was certain that 'Villain' had to be on there somewhere. Instead, I found nothing but proof of what mindless drivel people expect of idols. This poll was a perfect example of the image people have of idols as actors, condemning them to play shallow roles with little room for development.
Sure, it sounds harsh but I think the fact that the #1 choice was Host says it all. A role like that really just requires the ability to be both charming, attractive and a little erotic, traits Kame has already made himself known for as an idol. That's his stage persona. By that, I mean...like, a physical stage. When's he's doing lives and stuff. It's not a hugely demanding role and, honestly, I think, having done bloody brilliant job playing a confused and quiet demon with a good heart (Yokai Ningen Bem's Bem, for those of you who don't know), it would be step down for him. He's already proven that he can handle roles that require any notable skill. Obviously, I haven't seen Ore Ore yet but you'd think, given that he's playing 33 different characters and earning favourable critical phrase thus far, this list would include some more interesting roles.
Idols are looked down upon as actors, that's just the way of things. Because they are idols, it's generally accepted that they appear in countless dramas for publicity. When they appear in films, granted the film isn't purely in need of some attractive lead, and the film is of a pretty substantial production, the idol's taken a little more seriously. But they're still an idol. Not everyone can pull of a KimuTaku (except for maybe the rest of SMAP, though KimuTaku still reigns on as JE's best actor). The results of this poll sort of prove that people don't want to see idols take on those riskier roles. They want them to be idols because they are idols. Ignoring that Kame's shocking choice to take on the role of Bem ended up to be pretty well accepted.
Kimura Takuya is generally accepted as the best actor in Johnny's - I'd probably have to agree with this opinion
Kame himself has stated that he'd like to take on more interesting roles, even saying that he'd be willing 'to grow a moustache, or to act as a villain' [Wink Up Jan 2013]. He has also, though I can't find a source, expressed interest in playing a character in some kind of detective/mystery drama (y'know, the kind that UK and Japan seem to do best because their main characters are always eccentric loonies (Sherlock, Jonathan Creek, Mr Brain, Monsters) while American ones are always so professional and clean-looking (except for that Perception one but I haven't watched it)). I honestly don't seem playing a Host any time soon. I actually believe, now that he's played a demon, a blue alien with blonde hair and a strange collection of 33 clones, he's going to continue down the road of playing more unusual characters. There's also another reason why I have come to this conclusion.
The most minor role Kame has possibly ever played in his life, aside from cameos, the choice to play the Galactic Empire Representative was just bizarre
This speculated reason of mine, I shall call it Depp.Yeah. I think it's obvious what I'm getting at here. Butbutbut, allow me to elaborate. Kame has said on enough occasions that he admires Johnny Depp - 'When I’m asked “Who is a man you like?”, it’s always Johnny Depp, without fail.' [Kame Camera, MAQUIA, March 2013], 'I don't have such an obsession. But, if I was forced, I'd have to say Johnny Depp' [Udine Far East Film Festival 2013, in response to being asked who his idol was] - and has stated that he reads his biography (I don't know which one, he has a lot - he doesn't have an autobiography, that's all I know) quite a lot, it's a book he really likes. He's also a big fan of Tim Burton, as proven by an interview the two of them did together, and, as everyone knows, Tim and Johnny are great friends and frequent collaborators. Futhermore, during this interview, Kame cited Burton's film, Edward Scissorhands, as a huge influence on his portrayal of Bem's character (personality-wise - I believe the look was based on David Bowie, though Depp's Willy Wonka had been on the cards as a potential inspiration), Edward being played by, oh, guess who, Johnny Depp. And, to top it off, Kame actually revealed that, were it not for Johnny, he probably wouldn't have taken on the role of Bem (even though I can't find the exact source, he did say it).
Kame and Burton's interview - it was a stange and awkward affair but it was amusing nonetheless
 In fact, Kame explained that the reason he decided to play Bem was a conversation he'd had with Johnny. It seems Johnny had spoken to him about a certain type of character - there was a word Kame used for it but, seeing as it was a Japanese word, Johnny probably never said it, so it's not really important that I can't remember for the life of me what it was. This type of character is one that goes against expectations and is somewhat of an oddity in the world of film and television. Basically, by general standards, these characters are kind of weird. They're the kind of characters who would normally be presented as unlikeable characters but are being played as the opposite. Simply put, the kind of character you'd normally see Johnny play. Apparently, this fascinated Kame and ended up inspiring him to play a demon - a character normally used as a villain- as this really innocent, harmless guy; the Edward Scissorhands influence is undeniable, really. Bem isn't the kind of character you'd regularly associate with an idol - I know I was quite surprised when the rumour of Kame appearing in this drama surfaced - but he did it anyway. I believe he actually had some worries about the reception but he still wanted to do it, to try something new and prove himself as more than your bog-standard idol actor. Thing is, though, Kame's actually pretty good at acting with his eyes and, because Bem barely talks, most of his acting in this drama was done like that. It was really nice to see.
Kame as Bem
However, I think there's even more of a Depp influence in regards to Kame's acting. Keeping that whole biography thing in mind, I think it's fair to say that Kame is aware of Johnny's whole entrance into the world of acting. And, well, this is when I start making speculations.
Johnny Depp was originally a musician, member of a band named The Kids. The band moved to LA but it didn't go well and it all kind of fell apart. However, at some point, the recently-divorced Johnny was prompted by his ex-wife's good friend, Nicholas Cage (the most boring man in the universe), to try it as an actor. He got a part in the original Nightmare in Elm Street and, from there, kind of delved further into the world of acting. In 1987, Johnny wound up taking, quite reluctantly, the part of Tom Hanson in high-school crime drama, 21 Jump Street, a series Johnny referred to as 'borderline fascist' [Foreword for Burton on Burton, 1994]. Insantly, thanks to the show, Johnny became known across America as this wonderful teen heart-throb; an image he thoroughly resented. Eventually, he found his way out of the series, at the end of the 4th season. The show continued on for only a season without him and Johnny, in 1990, found the show his true potential as an actor in Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (there are plenty of roles I have not pointed out here but they're not relevant). This film allowed him to toss aside the teen idol image and play a character that no-one expected him to - he didn't even expect it and was really quite surprised when Tim agreed to cast him.
Now, to compare this to Kame's situation - he's an idol. He is a teen heart-throb. That kind of comes with being the frontman of a boyband, to be fair, but that is what he is, in the eyes of the media. Idols aren't taken seriously in the world of acting and, well, idols aren't really seen as being normal people. I assume, from certain lines from a collection of interviews, that Kame doesn't really appreciate this. And based on how much he seems to like Johnny's biography, I think it's safe to say that Kame associates with that situation. Kame has grown pretty serious about his acting, I think he even said that if he were to stop being a singer it would be because he'd be focusing on acting. But getting 'idol roles' is probably pretty unrewarding - the fact that Kame named Yokai Ningen Bem was the first properly decent drama he'd done in a long time kind of says it all. I mean, you can spice Takano Kyohei up all you want but he's probably still not a challenging character. Kame decided to try and break away from this image, in terms of his acting (he says he is actually proud of being an idol, so I don't know if ditching that as a whole would make any sense), by playing a character like Bem. It's not a one-off, though, as proven by the...blue guy, and by Ore, Ore. He's taking risks with his acting. But he's taking the roles he wants, not the roles people want him to take. This also takes us back to the Johnny comparison, as he has made it clear that, after Jump Street, he decided to take on only the roles he found interesting. Fortunately, in Kame's case, this also means characters that are actually pretty intriguing. The fact that Kame's first attempt to break away from this image is based on Johnny's first attempt to do the very same is pretty interesting, though, probably, mostly coincidental. Both are also characters with very little dialogue and a lot going on in the eyes - though, as much as I love Kame, Johnny's better at this.
I actually think Kame's actually going to start moving in the direction of becoming more of a character actor, something that's pretty far removed from an idol actor. Actually, it'd be brilliant if he did that because I actually love actors who can take on all these different kinds of roles (i.e; I like Johnny Depp). It's just more interesting than become an 'insert-genre-here' actor or, well, an idol actor. I do think Kame has the talent to take on that kind of approach to acting and, if my speculations are correct, I'm really excited to see what roles he takes on next. Kame has also said that he'd like to do more movie roles, which kind of sucks because I have to wait longer to see them than I would with a drama. However, in the long run, this is a lot better, especially since I've developed a keen obsession with watching films. Also, films probably earn you more respect as an actor, internationally at least. I mean, they're already releasing Ore, Ore worldwide, I'm sure. So, really, I think film is a good direction for him.
Kame, taking a picture with a fan, at the Udine Far East Film Festival 2012, in Italy
All in all, I think Kame's characters are going to stop being the type anyone expects of an idol and we're probably going to see him gain a lot more interesting roles to put under his belt. Of course, this is all speculation, but I think it's really quite likely. In any case, I don't see him playing a Host anytime soon. I mean, he'd probably look pretty nice as a host but I wouldn't want him to play a character like that unless there was some darker undertones to the character that kind of messed with this perfect image Hosts seem to have - which is probably not what the poll was getting at. If what I'm hoping does happen, then, well, thank you, Mr Depp.

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