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BIG IN JAPAN
Nagare Hagiwara


Nagare HagiwaraWhat is acting to Nagare Hagiwara? "Proof of my existence and the reason why I exist," he said. "Take it away and I' be no more."

Hagiwara, a rugged Japanese actor, is known for playing tough guy roles. He's made plenty of notable TV guest appearances, as well as movie appearances: Sukeban Deka: Kazama San Shimai no Gyakushu (aka Girl Gang Boss Detective: Revenge of the Three Kazama Sisters, 1988), Onimaru (aka Arashigaoka, 1988), Asobi no Zikan wa Owaranai (1991), Ai no Shinsekai (aka A New Love in Tokyo, 1994), Gunro no Keifu (aka Tale of a Scarface, 1997) and Shura ga Iku #12 [a v-movie] to name a few. Not bad for a guy who became a famous actor without intending to.

"When I was young, and while I was a ronin, I got to know this guy who asked me to help out with a play he was in, and I agreed. The choreographer of that particular play, Mr Takemura, was there and after the final scene, he asked me if I was interested in watching another play. I had nothing better to do, so I went with him to watch this play. Afterwards, he asked me if I was interested in acting... and would I like to join his production. He said that he would train me for three months and I've been doing it ever since.

"Gradually, I became addicted to acting, and the next thing I knew, I was 26 years old, couldn't go back to college, couldn't really get a salaryman job, and so I officially became an actor. It's not like I wanted to be an actor, so I'm surprised that I'm here myself. I also had the opportunity to work with Mr Kohei Tsuka, and was under his wing for three years. After that, Mr Tsuka set up his own production company. From there, he helped me land a job on a NHK drama and the wheels just started rolling."

One of his favorite roles was playing a character in an unfinished play called Gankutsu Ou, performed at Aoyama Gekijo. "Over 90 percent of the play is a musical, and we were singing the whole time-it was almost like an operetta. That was really fun."

Hagiwara just wrapped up filming for an as yet untitled Japanese movie, and is very excited about his upcoming projects.

"I'm working on something for next autumn, and right now we're in the midst of getting the rights to this play that's never been shown in Japan before," he said. "It's about a middle aged man and a young girl falling in love. We want to make it for TV, movie and v-cinema [made-for-video movies]. This fall, I'm doing a play that's been running for a while called Hi no Tori (The Phoenix, written by Osamu Tezuka). But this play will only run in Osaka."

Although these enticing roles will be his in the near future, his dream role is playing the lead role in Shakespeare's Richard III.

"It's a four or five hour play, so I think it'll be close to impossible to do - I can't imagine any Japanese screenwriter trying to do this in Japanese. I don't think my dream will come true. But I would really like to do a classic. Any roles that a producer brings to me, I'd like to give it a chance. Being an actor, it's hard to go and ask for roles, you kinda have to wait until someone brings you one."

With the great acting skills he's been showing lately, he won't have to wait for a classic script - he's creating his own.

Maki Nibayashi and Melanie C. Redmond

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