Matsuyama recounted that when he first read the script, he was very moved by the story and had grown to like Murayama so much that he was prepared to throw away a lot of things in order to play him in the movie. Although it was tough for him physically and mentally to immerse himself fully into the character, he still enjoyed the experience because there were more things he liked than disliked. In order to look convincing as Murayama, Matsuyama put on nearly 20kg, wore Murayama's favourite tie during the shogi game scenes and visited the Tokyo Shogi Kaikan regularly to observe the games. However, he thinks that whether he actually succeeded in playing Murayama will have to depend on the audience's response to the movie which he will find out gradually later on.
Higashide who plays Murayama's biggest rival Habu Yoshiharu, revealed that he had goosebumps after reading the script and was so elated when he got the role that he shook the hand of his manager for the first time. Before the filming started, Higashide and the director went to meet Habu and borrowed his glasses which were worn when he won his 7th championship title. Through this movie, he had also come to realise the idea that some things needed to be thrown away in order to achieve certain goals.
Matsuyama "complained" about not being invited to the meeting with Habu and revealed that he only came to know about it halfway into the filming. Although the director had deliberately arranged for him to be absent so that Matsuyama would not be affected by his impression of his rival through the meeting, the latter still lamented that he would still have wanted to meet Habu before the start of the filming.
Sources: Oricon / Eiga.com