Hayato Onozuka portrayed Kiriya Kujo/Kamen Rider Lazer in Kamen Rider Ex-Aid. He spoke about his role during Kamen Rider Heisei Generations: Dr. Pac-Man vs. Ex-Aid & Ghost with Legend Rider and about his time with his cast members.
(This interview was originally posted in mid-December 2016.)
TVLife: Although you took a long break, what has been the response from those around you about your appearance on Kamen Rider?
Onozuka: I have three brothers. My oldest brother has children, which are my nephew and niece. My parents are happy, but most of all, my brother is. He can boast to his son that I’m a Kamen Rider (laughs). When I started this work, I wanted to fulfill my family duties through work, so I’m really happy. By the way, members of EXILE were also surprised and said “Really? You?!” but they were all very supportive.
TVLife: Children admire Kamen Rider.
Onozuka: Yes. I was happy because I watched Heisei Riders such as Kuuga, Agito, and Ryuki. Every boy wanted to “Henshin!”. At the same time, because it’s a work with lots of history, I also felt I had the responsibilities of telling children how much I adored my time acting as a Rider.
TVLife: In Ex-Aid, there were four Riders in the beginning, now five, including the black Ex-Aid (Gemn). Did you realize how you differed from the other Riders?
Onozuka: I thought it would be nice to have a different color. We also have our own transformation poses, but I suggested the “kick” for Kiriya’s character.
TVLife: You and Kiriya seem to have a high physical ability.
Onozuka: At the beginning, I was told about Kiriya’s character. He didn’t want to get close to people. At first glance, it seems like he’s tricking people and is just a clumbsy man. Even if you don’t believe him, he would seriously appeal to “Believe me!”.
TVLife: Gradually you can see Kiriya’s more human side.
Onozuka: Out of the Riders, I approached Emu Hojo (Hiroki Iijima), because he seemed to trust people more easily. Hiiro Kagami (Toshiki Seto) was too sharp. After transforming into a motorcycle, someone needed to be Lazer’s buddy. For that reason, no one wanted to use it, which is why I approached Hojo. But in December 11th’s broadcast, the four Riders co-operated together. You will see how the relationships change.
TVLife: A Medical Examiner is unique because it can expose the core even more.
Onozuka: Kuroto Dan (Tetsuya Iwanaga) may have been watching Kiriya from the beginning. Even if his abilities are amazing, Kuroto is reading into him even further. The fight between the President and Kiriya will also be a highlight.
TVLife: Current and older cast members speak through Twitter. Did you get along easily from the start?
Onozuka: Everyone is close to age, but we get along well. Toshiki’s influence was powerful. He is friendly and casual and can get along with everyone. So, because of him, we are able to get along.
TVLife: Seto-san seemes to be aware he makes the mood (laughs)
Onozuka: Wow, really? (laugh) But, it’s certain everyone is working together to create a good atmosphere.
TVLife: What about the other members?
Onozuka: Hiroki Iijima is very pure. He’s honest and gentle in his private life, even while he acts. Ukyo Matsumoto is a listener. Tetsuya Iwanaga is reading English newspapers normally… or is it too mysterious (laugh). I’ve seen him playing smartphone games, but it was all in English!
TVLife: So Ruka Matsuda (Asuna Karino/Poppy Pipopapo) is surrounded by men (laughs)
Onozuka: Matsuda is very brave. I think it must be difficult to switch between Poppy and Asuna’s role. I think it is surprisingly difficult to react or watch the Riders battle each time. I have never seen her have an angry face, including during “Poppy Pipopapo’s Room” (web show). In a sense, she has more guts and is more respectable than men.
TVLife: Then please conclude with your thoughts about Kamen Rider Heisei Generations: Dr. Pac-Man vs. Ex-Aid & Ghost and the television series.
Onozuka: The movie is just beautiful. Kamen Riders from the past appear together on the same screen, talking and fighting together, which is unique to this movie. Hiroshi Tanahashi (Japanese professional wrestler) and Shirou Sano (actor) appear together. We’re challenging ourselves with the action scenes that are not seen in the tv show.
For the main tv show, the four Riders have reached Level 5. We’re finally beginning to see a connection to each other, and will face the black Ex-Aid. The 11th and 12th episodes will accelerate development even more. Our relationships will become more complicated as higher levels are achieved, and we will continue to move deep into the story.
Onozuka’s Message After Christmas:
“It was decided that I leave in the middle of the story, and to make a theme on how to go on, while confronted with it. So I had to do something that would put my life at risk. Even if I’m gone, Kamen Rider Ex-Aid will still continue. Thank you for your support.”
Article Sources: TVLife