Interview: Comedy Actress Eri Fuse – Cutie Honey, Adrift In Tokyo, GTO
“As long as I can act and I can eat something nice I’m happy!” Eri Fuse
Back in February of this year (24th – 26th February 2012 to be exact), comedy actress Eri Fuse and her husband film director Miki Satoshi came to the UK to appear as special guests at the three-day London event Hyper Japan 2012 Spring and took to the stage for a Q&A session hosted by Adam Torel of Third Window Films. They were also gracious enough to give up some of their valuable time for Diverse Japan to take part in a one-to-one (or in this case two-to-one) interview. Although the couple were sitting side by side, the questions were presented to them individually (Satoshi’s interview can be read here).
In this interview Fuse shares her thoughts on Satoshi as a director, what it was like working alongside popular gravure idol Mikie Hara in the TV series Cutie Honey: The Live, and the hugely succesful idol group AKB48 whom she worked with on the music video for their hit single “Iiwake Maybe”, among other things.
Fuse is currently appearing in the new TV adaptation of the manga series GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka, which premired in Japan on 3rd July 2012, and therefore now is as good a time as any to present this interview. Please enjoy!
A point of interest: Fuse and Satoshi came to the UK with their daughter Fumi but she wasn’t present during the interview.
Interviewer: Spencer Lloyd Peet (Administrator)
Why did you want to become an actress?
It actually started when I was back in high school, so that was a long time ago. I really wanted to be an actor so I went and joined a group, a play group. It’s called the Shingeki, It’s a really serious group; it’s not like a comedy group.
Can you remember the first audition you ever had, what was it for and did you get the part?
I’ve never had to audition before, because I actually hate it – if I audition I never think I am going to get the role anyway (laughs).
You’re best known for playing comedy roles. Were you a comedic child, joking around, pulling pranks and making jokes?
I was quite introverted and I really didn’t like to talk to people when I was young. I was like a social recluse – I really didn’t want to go to school.
He’s a very, very serious director so I can be serious as well. That’s how I like it.
How do you prepare for a role, do you have many discussions with the director beforehand or is it left up to you as to how you should play your part?
It’s half and half. In terms of appearance, if a director like Mr. Satoshi tells me to cut my hair then I will. But sometimes I do have my own interpretation of what my role should look like, so I would put that in it as well. We do discuss it but I do have my own ideas as well. But normally, we the actors discuss things amongst ourselves and not with the director. We know what we need to do as actors. So for that kind of discussion normally the director wouldn’t get involved.
Are you a fan of non-Japanese comedy acts like Laurel & Hardy?
I don’t really like them (laughs).
In the 2007 tokusatsu TV series Cutie Honey: The Live you play a wacky baddie called Hiromi Tanaka who conceals a missile launcher in her belly (see below right image). She’s a totally bonkers character. What went through your mind when you first read the script?
I found it interesting really.
In episode 23, “Present From Father”, you hilariously transform into Cutie Honey (see below left image). What was that like for you to wear such a rediculously funny version of CH’s sexy costume?
This is pure fantasy really; I had to wear everything (laughs).
In the series Gravure idol Mikie Hara was cast as the title character. This was her first acting role, people only really knew her then for being a model. So you being a professional actress, what was it like working alongside a first-timer like Mikie Hara?
The director was really, really hard on her, he was really strict with her. She was making so much effort to do it good. I felt like I was watching a dog, like how a dog listens to its master. I mean that in a good way; she was very conscious of everything. It was really tough for her at first.
Have you seen Mikie Hara since making the series?
Many young women try to break into the entertainment business by becoming a gravure idol first. But it can be quite difficult for them as there is often a certain amount of stigma attached to this profession. What are your thoughts on this – do you see it as a good way to break into the business or is it something you don’t primarily agree with?
I don’t think there’s really a problem with it. I was a reporter before I became an actor; that was my first job, so you never know how things will turn out. I think it’s OK to do it that way. Some of them have very nice figures, so why not use it?!
In 2010 you appeared as a teacher in the AKB48 music video for “Iiwake Maybe”. What was your impression of the girls and do you like their music?
I think all the members of AKB48 are very polite and well-educated young women. I was particularly impressed by Yuko Oshima and Minami Takahashi. I find AKB48’s songs to be quite catchy.
Your latest role is as Hiroko Sannomaru in the new live action adaptation of the manga series GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka which stars Akira from the male pop group EXILE and Miori Takimoto and also features Nao Nagasawa. Can you tell us a little bit about the series and the character you play?
Regarding GTO, my role as Sannomaru Sensei is not from the original manga. The character was created specifically for the drama series. She is a “sister-in-law” like character who tries to get Onizuka Sensei (played by Akira) expelled from the school.
Okay, last question. What plans do you have for the future both professionally and personally?
I don’t really make plans or have any aims for the future, that’s my personality. As long as I can act and I’ve been offered the job, and I can eat something nice then that’s it really, I’m happy.
Thank you for your time, it’s been most enjoyable.
Whilst signing Diverse Japan’s copy of Cutie Honey: The Live photo book immediately after the interview Fuse remarked, “I never thought I would see Cutie Honey here (laughs).”
Photography by James Fielding
Special thanks to Sayaka Smith (Interpreter), Third Window Films, Hyper Japan and Steve Okubo (Translator)