ModelPress Interviews Hayato Onozuka About Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, EXILE, & Acting

Spoiler Alert!
This article contains spoilers for the ongoing show, Kamen Rider Ex-Aid.

ModelPress recenty interviewed actor Hayato Onozuka (23), who is currently an active member of the entertainment group Gekidan EXILE. Onozuka is rising in popularity by playing Kiriya Kujo/Kamen Rider Lazer in Kamen Rider Ex-Aid (broadcasts every Sunday at 8AM on TV Asahi). Kiriya is killed by the hands of Kamen Rider Genm in episode 12th (broadcast on December 25, 2016) and disappears as a “game over”. His death received many reactions from fans. However, he was resurrected as Kamen Rider Laser Turbo in the 35th episode (broadcast on June 11, 2017).

Hayato Onozuka of EXILE

Onozuka is part of the entertainment group EXILE. He appeared in the stage play Attack No. 1 in September 2012, following his audition in the “3rd Theater EXILE Audition” in 2010. He has been participating in theater performances, movies, dramas, and from October 2016, in Kamen Rider Ex-Aid. He portrays Kiriya Kujo/Kamen Rider Lazer, one of the main characters.

Members of EXILE have been active as solo artists. While they participate more in individual activies, their popularity rises.

In this interview, we spoke about shooting episodes of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, as well as sharing stories about EXILE members and Onozuka’s future as an actor.

Unusual Resurrection After Annihilation

This time, it’s said the resurrection came after much response, right?

Onozuka: After the death, there were stories saying maybe I’ll come back again. I got a couple of flower bouquets, so I didn’t know what would happen. However, it seemed that viewers had a lot of opinions. It was a trigger on the decision for the resurrection. It is an honor, though the re-appearance was in a very unusual form.

Did you notice the reaction?

Onozuka: I was with my niece and nephew, but I got a phone call. They said “Laser!” “That’s right.” After that, it seemed children of friends were watching. “You’re a Kamen Rider?” (laughs) Kamen Rider is a work that everyone knows, so they realized that “I am on Kamen Rider.” My family and older brother are happy that I was given a role that they can be proud of.

Did you always want to appear on the show?
Onozuka: Yes, my childhood dream was to be a Kamen Rider. I didn’t expect it to happen. I’m 23 years old and now a Kamen Rider.

You are EXILE’s first Kamen Rider.
Onozuka: The members said “Onozuka, are you a Rider?” (laughs). It’s a character I can do, so I received encouragement and also jokes (laughs) like “Eh? Are you okay?”

For men, it’s a particularly strong work.
Onozuka: Everyone’s been watching it since I was little. Even the actor who was Kamen Rider when I was small, will be a hero to me. So, I thought I don’t want to destroy the dreams of children who watch.

For the environment on-site, do you notice a difference from other works?
Onozuka: It’s completely different. First of all, because I didn’t have to shoot for a year. Also it’s a world that is impossible in the real world. It was refreshing, like feeling like a young boy, even while shooting.

Though it came out in the story before, there are many actors who have done this before.
Onozuka: That’s right. I’m young and part of EXILE, but here, it’s a fresh experience. By experiencing this role, I believe I am a bit more solid in than before.

What did you think you wanted to take from this role to your next?
Onozuka: This is the first time I could play the same role for a year. I learned a lot from that. Sometimes I feel uneasy, but I also felt the difficulty of building up things within a short time. By spreading the role over time, I really felt I learned a lot of various things.

Lost 5kg From Shooting

I think there were many action scenes, right?
Onozuka: Up until now, there were many bad roles, but now I had a role with action scenes. But this time, it was action scenes as “The Hero”, so it was different. I was a character that was good at kicking, so I kicked by jumping and turning (laughs). The next day, my muscle pain was terrible (laughs).

Did you train your body for this?
Onozuka: No, it’s about maintaining the status quo. I regularly go to the gym, and I want to remove carbs at night or when I’m late. Otherwise, I’ll get a disgusting swollen face and body. Even so, I lost about 5kg compared to last summer.

Does that mean you’ve become thinner due to just working regularly?
Onozuka: That’s right. I looked at images from when I first started this role, and I thought my face was “fat”, but I was getting thinner while I was shooting. In comparison, I think t’s better for me to be thinner. I’m the type that gets bigger around my face, so a 5kg loss is impressive. From there, I have to keep up the status quo.

What Kind of Feedback Do You Check?

I think many watch works like Kamen Rider and wonder “Who will get their break from this?”. Do you feel conscious of such things?
Onozuka: Everyone is so handsome that I get sick of it (laughs). But, being able to see it from that point of view is also the charm of this work, so it’s nice to get feedback. I think not only children can enjoy Kamen Rider, but a wide ranger of people.

Do you check feedback online?
Onozuka: I try. “Kiriya” is sometimes trending, so I’ll check why. I usually check after the show broadcasts.

Even if you don’t appear, you’re trending! That’s why you’re a popular character.
Onozuka: I appreciate it! Even after he first disappeared, Kiriya was in the dialogue. It’s getting better and cooler. I also feel the love from the screenwriter.

Popularity of EXILE is Rising

Looking back on your career, where do you place this work?
Onozuka: It was one of the mainstream works that everyone knew. It became a strength to me. There were times where I only did small stage performances. I am climbing the stairs little by little.

Now EXILE as a whole is gaining attention. How do you feel about the change?
Onozuka: I think it’s exciting that one of us is always in the news! The name “EXILE” is entering the world, and I’m happy. I think we’ll have more opportunity to expand its name by appearing on Kamen Rider. The first goal is for people who don’t know much about LDH or EXILE to get to know us.

Do you check the appearances of other members?
Onozuka: I watch, like Suzuki’s “So Much for You” and Machida’s “People Look 100%”. It’s exciting when you watch appearances of people you know.

Do you discuss your future goals in EXILE with each other?
Onozuka: Rather than doing something I’ve done before, I want to do a stage performance with everyone. I think a lot about dramas. Because there are nine people, a love story would be nice, but it’s more like a 9 person Super Sentai team. My dreams are growing. Long ago, I used to talk about dreams like “I want to co-star” or “I want to be popular”. Because I was talking about that goal for so long, I felt it was meaningful that I was TRIBE’s first member to be in a tokusatsu work.

When everyone gathers, do you share stories about your dreams?
Onozuka: No, we just talk about the basics (laughs). Masayasu Yagi will sometimes exchange stories through LINE.

EXILE group uses LINE?
Onozuka: I have it. But now, there are several groups. I don’t understand what it is (laughs). When Summer comes, I’ll say “BBQ! Let’s go!”. But, I’ve never gone there yet.

It’s busy, isn’t it?
Onozuka: Nine people people couldn’t agree on a time. Sho Aoyagi said this year around the end of May, but still nobody has moved (laughs). I already imagine that I will never agree (laughs).

What is the Secret to Making Your Dreams Come True?

Please look back on your career and tell us about “the secret to making my dreams come true”
Onozuka: All the dreams I imagined have come true. When I played football, there was a high school I wanted to enter. I was trying to get in there since I was in elementary school. The next year, I longed to be in EXILE. I fell during the audition a few times, but I was able to join LDH. Dreams have changed from time to time, but because I was persistent and didn’t give up, I was able to achieve it each time. That experience is the source of my life and it’s not going to immediately work out all at once, so it’s important to keep going at it with the tenacity of a weed. Sometimes you may think you need the courage to just give up, but my present situation is due to my patience enduring it. I think I will not give up, even if I fail.

Do you always have a dream or a goal?
Onozuka: Because I’m an actor, I’m not a specific person. But I’d like to keep moving as an actor. Specifically, I’m thinking about various roles. I don’t care about what role I’m addicted to or what I’m not good at. What I think is important is to analyze myself as an actor. Previously, I was moving straight ahead to accomplish goals, but now I have a calmer perspective.

How did you get there?
Onozuka: When I read an interview about someone, or watch a documentary, I thought that everyone is objective. So, I started to think I wanted to be like this, and the image of people around me was different.

Are there some people you have been influenced by in particular?
Onozuka: That would be EXILE’s HIRO, who has earned his current situation from adversity, so I was influenced by him. Also during my first stage appearance, the Director said “Don’t be 99 out of 100, be 1 out of 100”, which I try to be conscious of doing.

Please tell me your view on the resurrection of Kiriya.
Onozuka: For everyone, I think the resurrection has a hidden meaning. I want you all to pay attention to Kiriya’s real intentions. And, as this story is the final game of Kamen Rider Laser. I’m happy to see the ending.

Thank you very much.

Hayato Onozuka Profile

Birthday: June 29, 1993
Place of Birth: Chiba prefecture
Blood Type: A
Height: 173 cm

In September 2012, he was a stage member of Attack No.1. Other major works include Asagakuru, Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, HiGH & LOW series, and more.

Article Sources: ModelPress

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