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Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Suzuki Ryohei to be the lead in 2018 NHK Taiga drama "Segodon"

Suzuki Ryohei was announced to be the lead in the upcoming 2018 NHK Taiga drama "Segodon" during a press conference held on 2 November at NHK's headquarters in Shibuya, Tokyo. Also present at the event were the original novel's author Hayashi Mariko and scriptwriter Nakazono Miho.

"Segodon" is based on the same-titled novel by Hayashi which is currently being serialised in the literature magazine "Hon no Tabibito" and describes the life of Saigo Takamori who was regarded as a hero during the Meiji Restoration. He had also gone through 2 island exiles and 3 marriages and fought the new Meiji government even though he was one of those responsible for establishing it.

As this is Suzuki's first appearance in a NHK Taiga especially since he is the lead this time, he admitted that although he is happy about the offer, he is also feeling the responsibility and pressure of being able to play a historical figure's life. To an actor, this is a hard-to-come-by chance. To date, many actors who are more senior than him have played Saigo but he hopes to develop his own style of playing this character while getting ideas from others' performances. He hopes to make this drama an energetic and passionate production which will live up to the longstanding tradition of the Taiga drama's history. Last but not least, he wishes that viewers will be able to feel refreshed for the week ahead after watching Saigo's story on Sunday nights.

Hayashi revealed that she had received the offer to dramatise her novel even though the story is not completed yet and expressed her joy about this. As she is writing about Saigo in a way which nobody else had done before, she is well aware that there may be criticism over her potrayal of him but she is confident that this side of Saigo will still be well-received when her book is realised. On the other hand, Nakazono commented that the story will contain various types of love such as the teacher-student love between Shimazu Nariakira and Saigo, family love, romance and boys' love i.e. bromance. Upon hearing the term "boys' love", Hayashi chipped in to say that Nakazono had told Suzuki to build up his body so that he can go topless anytime in the drama when the need arises so she's quite looking forward to such scenes. Nakazono added on to say that there will be action scenes too on top of these which led Suzuki to remark with a weak smile that this is the first time he had heard of such plans.

As Saigo was known to be a man with a big build, a reporter asked Suzuki if he plans to increase his weight to around 100kg so as to look convincing. With regard to this, Suzuki said that this will be discussed with the producer and director so at the moment, he can't comment on that yet. Nonetheless, he hopes to immerse himself fully into the role and make viewers have the feeling that they are seeing the real Saigo on their TV screens.

Suzuki graduated from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and was active as a model before he made his acting debut in 2006. He was featured as the heroine's (Yoshitaka Yuriko) husband in the NHK 2014 morning drama "Hanako to Anne" and well-known for his willingness and ability to change his body for his acting projects such as putting on 15kg and reducing his fat percentage for the 2013 movie "HK / Hentai Kamen", reducing his weight by 20kg for the 2015 TBS drama "Tennou no Ryouriban" and increasing his weight by 30kg for the 2015 movie "Ore Monogatari".

Filming begins in the summer of 2017 and the drama which consists of 50 episodes, is due to be shown from January 2018. Next year will be the 140th death anniversary of Saigo and the year of the broadcast will be the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration.

Sources: Sponichi / Oricon / Eiga.com

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