It was recently announced that Shu Watanabe would be reprising his role as Eiji Hino/Kamen Rider OOO in the upcoming film Kamen Rider Heisei Generations Final. He will be stepping into the role after a six year absense. Watanabe will be joining other Riders returning to their roles after years of absence.
Modelpress was covering the recent Toei Tokusatsu Fan Thanksgiving Day on October 1st, and had the opportunity to interview Watanabe. He spoke about OOO’s ressurrection and love of Kamen Rider.
Finally, OOO’s Revival Has Been Announced!
Watanabe: I haven’t been in the Rider world for awhile, so when I saw the role and lines in the script, i felt “Oh, I’m going to return to this world again”. There was pressure to return to that role, but it was really fun.
What is more fun is the reaction of those who are waiting for is. If the fans who saw the news are happy, I think it’s worth doing. As for the surprise reveal, I think it was worth doing. I want to be immersed in the fan’s reaction (laugh)
Shooting is finished, but what were your impressions?
Watanabe: I’m more than happy to reprise my role with my partner (Ryosuke Miura). Similar to Kamen Rider W, we have a buddy thing, so it’s a work that has a good harmony between two people. If it was just me who were revived, it wouldn’t be enough for me. There was a sense of security and relief knowing he would join me. Since we’re reprising the story from six years ago, I want to do it properly.
How was Miura’s performance for the first time in six years?
Watanabe: It was perfect. It was just like it was then. So I think people who watch will say “Oh! This and that…!”
On the other hand, after six years, there seems like there’s some evolution
Watanabe: Since it’s a setting that has existed for some years, I think I have personally grown. It wasn’t considered on-set, but I think it’s possible to watch and think “Both of them have grown up and come back”. It’s said that at the time we were the Juniors, but now we’re the Seniors. If I were a fan, I would be excited and look forward to it.
Today’s Toei Tokusatsu Fans Thanksgiving Day was a hot event
Watanabe: After attenting such an event after such a long absese, I was nervous, but the people who came were so warm that I was really satisfied.
Plenty of feelings. The cheers when you were on stage were amazing!
Watanabe: I never thought I would be so warmly welcomed. I’m grateful.
Memories of OOO were flowing
Watanabe: It was nostalgic. Doing it for the first time in a long time, there are moments that bring back memories. I realized again how loved and how connected I am to the current Kamen Rider.
It was interesting how you contrasted with Masahiro Inoue (Tsukasa Kadoya/Kamen Rider Decade), who said “I became a Rider when I noticed it.”
Watanabe: Inoue’s character in Kamen Rider Decade was also like that, so I was like him at the time (laughs). As for me, I was happy because I had previously watched Kamen Rider Decade.
Were you reminded of when you were at your audition and realized that you were living your childhood dream?
Watanabe: I was really nervous from the first to the last audition. I remember acting with settings like money was falling from Heaven. In the end, we acted in groups of two. It was an unusual atmosphere. When talking to the interviewer with the other eight people, it took about one hour with questions like “Where are you from?” or “What do you usually do?”
You didn’t have any performance experience at all.
Watanabe: I made up my mind that “I can’t do it anymore.” Anyway, if it ended like that I would regret my failure. So, I felt “Let’s just do it anyway!”
What would your advice be to young people auditioning for a Kamen Rider role, like you?
Watanabe: Rather than acting, I think it will depend on the personality of the person and the hero image being created at the time. You may not always have good results. I was excited until I entered the venue, and there was little response, so I was crushed (laughs). So it wasn’t great at first, but then I passed.
During the talk show, you spoke about conflicts you had.
Watanabe: At that time, I had club activities. But, that role let me project my feelings clearly. Painful pasts, goodbyes, encounters… various feelings I felt overlapped with the role. The scale was completely different, though.
When you decided you wanted to be an “actor for life”?
Watanabe: I was ready for it. I also participated on-stage for the “Junon Super Boy Contest”, but I wasn’t interested in other work. The results weren’t very good, but there were no special qualifications. When I thought about it, I said “Let’s just go for it anyway.” I tried to do it once without knowing anything, so it would be useful if it went back, but it went well.
There was so a story about you being a “lonely hero”. How did you resolve that?
Watanabe: I’m the type who doesn’t want to ask others for help. That’s why I think there are some people who are close-minded around me, but that’s not the case. Of course, when I was anxious, I had to ask for help. I wanted to go home and take time to think about how to solve it by myself. Since there were no clear answers, there was a feeling like “I’ve troubled myself.” With those feelings, I felt like I was being lazy and indifferent.
Has your stance changed now?
Watanabe: Well… do you have anything to ask people? (And ask the manager)
There may be something I want you to listen to or agree with. If I wanted to solve it, I would ask for an answer, but when I say that, things would get tense. If you have many solutions, you can say “Well…”
Then there is silence because I’m thinking too much (laughs). Sometimes I think about things I shouldn’t think about, but even that makes me feel dumb and annoyed. I do it before I go to sleep. I don’t know the correct answers, especially in this industry.
Since you debuted as a Rider, what have your opportunities been like?
Watanabe: Both good and bad, and I get a lot of opportunities. The Seniors thought there was a traditional route, but there were so many other opportunities. I have grown by following various things, and this is my result now. There’s still more to come, so I don’t know if they’ll be good or bad. I’m conscious that there is always a blessed environment on stage, so I must throw all my energy there.
Looking back over the last six years, how do you feel?
Watanabe: Well… it goes by quick when you’re in this world. People will rise from the bottom and others will retire. So far, I’m in and out, so it’s not easy to test the world. In a sense, it’s exciting, yet scary. I think people can have different routes. On the contrary, which path will you take? Because I still don’t know. Honestly, I’m anxious every day.
If you say “Somehow, it’s going to happen” it’ll have a positive result, but there will be ups and downs along the way.
Watanabe: I’m not positive all the time. I think both positively and negatively. “What’s on your mind now?” Depending on the timing, it’s different. We think “to go positive” because “it can’t be done negeatively.” But I can’t always be positive because the negative might happen.
What drives you to continue today?
Watanabe: I think this is is simply fun. If I didn’t want it, I would have already quit. I met various people in various places, and I was able to make various works. Because it’s fun, you keep going on. I never really thought “Why am I still doing this?” or “There are other roads to take”. Sometimes things don’t work out, but if I remember how fun it is “I’m glad I kept doing it. I want to keep continuing from now on.”
You learned Korean by watching NHK’s Hangul Course on TV for opportunities. It seems that it would bring about more opportunities.
Watanabe: I can use it as a weapon to do many things in this industry. Anyway, I have to use my depth and various skills in life. I believe it’s good for an actor to have various skills to take on different challenges.
What are your goals and plans for the future?
Watanabe: I have a lot of things I want to do. In the old days, I had a habit of only thinking about the future, but there were many short term things I was neglecting. So, even if it’s painful now and doesn’t go well, I’ll do it for the time being. Then, maybe afterwards, I’ll experience something good. It was the same when I was a Rider. Anyway, if you neglect things now, I don’t think it’s over.
Please give a messgae to the readers who is doing their best to achieve their dreams.
Watanabe: Whether you’re in university or interested in the entertainment industry… I think everyone has various thoughts, but one thing I can say is to use all your strength towards your dream. I don’t want to just say “Don’t give up”, but as a result you can achieve it. If you do that, you can move forward in a big way towards your dream. To have the goal of “absolutely do it”, while achieving small goals, I think you can reach the your ultimate goal.
Shu Watanabe Information:
Birthday: October 26, 1991
Hometown: Akita Prefecture
Height: 180 cm
Special Skills: Athletics, football, swimming, Judo
Hobbies: Listening to the radio, DIY projects, learning Korean, and searching for real estate properties
Article Sources: Modelpress