TBS reinvigorated its 50 year commemorative TV program campaign of "Love of 99 Years - Japanese Americans" on Wednesday night, Nov 3. It opened with a write-in forum for those people showing interest and I saw 40 pages of write-ins in a day or two by the impatient fans saying they couldn't wait to see the star "Tsuyoshi Kusanagi" who takes on the dual roles of Issei immigrant Chokichi and his son Ichiro.
Kusangai, 36 years old, is an actor, singer and a member of the popular Japanese idol group, SMAP. He had a foolish act last year under the influence of alcohol that lead to a police arrest and showed his penitence for a short time. Probably it was a good opportunity to show who he is, as the part was written specifically with him in mind by Sugako Hashida, the screen writer.
Here's what Kusanagi told an interviewer that appeared in the paper.
"Chokichi, the father, picks up and holds his newly born baby Ichiro in his arms. I had a strange and mixed feeling that I have to play gown-up Ichiro."
The shooting location was in the U.S. He said it was a tight and hard itinerary, starting work as the sun rose and filming as much as possible during daylight.
"One time, a hurricane was approaching. We had to run to a shelter as soon as the director yelled 'cut'. I actually engaged in farm labor and participated in military drills when in the story, I was drafted into the army. I gained a lot of muscle by the time I returned to Japan. I think I learned about the relentless spirit of immigrants, their strong family bond and their aspiration for peace. It really changed the way I look at life.”