SciFi Japan

    Heisei GAMERA Interview With Akira Ohashii

    Stuntman Akira Ohashii portrayed Gamera and other monsters in the 1990s Gamera Trilogy, widely considered the peak of the Gamera series.
    Photo courtesy of Kadokawa. © 1996 KADOKAWA NHFN

    Author: Benjamin Chaffins

    With the upcoming release of the GAMERA: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION Limited Edition Blu-ray Set from Arrow Video, I felt it was the perfect time to reach out to one of the main players from the acclaimed Gamera films of the 1990s.

    Akira Ohashii taking a break while filming GAMERA 2: ATTACK OF
    LEGION. Photo courtesy of Akira Ohashii. © 1996 KADOKAWA NHFN

    Akira Ohashii is known for portraying Gamera in GAMERA 2: ATTACK OF LEGION (ガメラ2 レギオン襲来 Gamera 2 Rregion Shūrai, 1996), Trauma Gamera and Iris in GAMERA 3: THE REVENGE OF IRIS (ガメラ3 邪神〈イリス〉覚醒), and also King Ghidorah in Toho’s GODZILLA, MOTHRA, KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL OUT ATTACK (ゴジラ・モスラ・キングギドラ 大怪獣総攻撃, Gojira, Mosura, Kingu Gidora: Daikaijū Sōkōgeki, 2001). He’s a professional stuntman and actor who has become known in the kaiju community for his hard work portraying these monsters.

    I hope that you, the reader, enjoy this interview and learn a few things from Akira Ohashii…

    Benjamin Chaffins (ベンジャミン・チャフィンズ): Your professional background is as a stuntman and actor, what made you decide this is what you wanted to do? (あなたの職業的背景はスタントマンと俳優ですが、これがあなたがやりたいことだと決心したのはなぜですか?)

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): When I was 16 years old, I entered the world of action, influenced by watching Bruce Lee’s movies. (まずアクションを始めたのは子供の時にブルース・リーの映画を見て憧れて16歳の時にアクションの世界に入りました.)

    Ben (ベン): Before joining the crew of the Heisei Gamera series, what other movies or TV shows were you a part of? (平成ガメラシリーズに参加する前に、他にどんな映画やテレビ番組に参加しましたか?)

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): Prior to joining Gamera, I was a stuntman performing as Iria’s stunt (double), which is the lead role in Keita Amemiya’s ZEIRAM and ZEIRAM 2. (ガメラに参加をする前はスタントマンとして雨宮慶太 監督の『ゼイラム』『ゼイラム2』などで主役のイリアのスタント(吹き替え)を担当していました.)

    Ben (ベン): How did you become involved with the Heisei Gamera series? (平成ガメラシリーズに参加したきっかけは?)

    Ohashii as Trauma Gamera in GAMERA 3. Photo courtesy of Akira Ohashii. © 1999

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): Originally, I was supposed to perform the hind legs of Legion for GAMERA 2. The suit actor who played Gamera in the previous film did not participate because of a scheduling conflict and I was selected to be Gamera because of my work. (僕は、もともと『ガメラ2』のレギオンの後ろ足を担当する予定でした。前作でガメラを演じたスーツアクターさんがスケジュールが合わず不参加になり体型の近かった僕がガメラを担当する事になりました.)

    Ben (ベン): Mizuho Yoshida and Toshinori Sasaki played Mother Legion. How difficult was it for them to operate the suit? (吉田瑞穂と佐々木俊宜母レギオンを演じた。彼らがスーツを操作するのはどれほど難しかったですか?)

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): I think it was very difficult for Legion to be performed by two people. The Legion suits are large and heavy. (レギオンは2人で演じるので凄く大変だったと思います。レギオンのスーツは大きくて重量もありますので.)

    Ben (ベン): How was it working with Shinji Higuchi on set? (樋口 真嗣氏とセットに仕事をしてみてどうでしたか?)

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): Higuchi was a very unique person and I had a lot of fun shooting with him. I strongly felt the love he had for monster movies. (樋口監督は、とてもユニークな方で撮影は、とても楽しかったです。怪獣映画えの愛を強く感じました.)

    Ben (ベン): What was Shusuke Kaneko like? (金子修介はどんな人でしたか?)

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): Kaneko was the main story director and I was in the special effects group, so we didn’t spend much time together. However, I sometimes participated in the main story group, and I thought director Kaneko was a kind and smart person. (金子監督は本編班で僕は特撮班なので、あまり一緒にはいませんでした。ただ本編班に僕も参加をする時があり、金子監督の優しいく頭の良い人だなぁと思いました。まず自由に演技をさせてから、それを直していくので、やりやすかったです.)

    Gamera is well known for taking severe damage in his movies, and GAMERA 2: ATTACK OF LEGION was no exception.
    Photo courtesy of Kadokawa. © 1996 KADOKAWA NHFN

    Ben (ベン): What was the most difficult thing about the Heisei Gamera series? (平成ガメラシリーズで一番難しかったことは?)

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): In GAMERA 2: ATTACK OF LEGION, it was difficult for me to express the injuries that Gamera had because Gamera does not speak words and because there are many scenes that Legion is involved in. (ガメラ2レギオン襲来』のガメラはレギオンにやられるシーンが多くて言葉を喋らないガメラで傷みをどの様に表現するかなど難しかったです.)

    Ben (ベン): How did Iris perform differently compared to Gamera? (ガメラと比較して、アイリスの演奏はどのように異なりましたか?)

    Ohashii suiting up as Iris. Photo courtesy of Akira Ohashii. © 1999

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): I also played Trauma Gamera in GAMERA 3: REVENGE OF IRIS. Iris looks like expressionless, but he actually has emotions! It was difficult to express that. (『ガメラ3邪神イリス覚醒』ではトラウマガメラも演じました。イリスは無表情の様に見えて実は感情をもっている!そこを表現するのが難しかったです.)

    Ben (ベン): Did you make a mistake on set while shooting? (撮影中にセットに間違えましたか?)

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): There was no mistakes on set during shooting. (撮影中にセットを間違える事はありません.)

    Ben (ベン): How often do you train other actors and actresses? (どのくらいの頻度で他の俳優や女優を訓練していますか?)

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): The actors are the main group and I’m in a special effects group, so I don’t train with them. (俳優さんは本編班で僕は特撮班なので俳優さんと一緒に訓練はしてません.)

    Ben (ベン): How much fun did you have while working on the Heisei Gamera movies? (あなたが手掛けた平成ガメラ映画の制作中に、どれだけ楽しかったですか?)

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): The shooting period for GAMERA 2 and GAMERA 3 was long, and it was a really fun time to play games and make plastic models while waiting [between takes]. (ガメラ2』『ガメラ3』の撮影期間は長くて待ち時間にゲームをやったりプラモデルを作ったり本当に楽しい時間でした.)

    Ben (ベン): In GAMERA 3, Hirofumi Fukuzawa played the role of Gamera. Why did this change? (ガメラ3は福沢博文がガメラ役を演じました。なぜこれが変わったのですか?)

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): For GAMERA 3 it was decided to make a new suit and do it with a bigger person [than me] because Gamera is a growing monster. And I was in charge of Iris and Trauma Gamera. (『ガメラ3』はスーツを新しく作り大きい人でやろうと言う事になりました。ガメラは成長をする怪獣なので。そして僕はイリスとトラウマガメラを担当する事になりました.)

    Ben (ベン): Do you remember the critical reception that GAMERA 3 received from viewers during the release? (ガメラ3がリリース中に視聴者から受け取った批評を覚えていますか?)

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): People who saw GAMERA 3: REVENGE OF IRIS said that Iris was cool. (ガメラ3 邪神イリス覚醒』を見てくれた人達からはイリス格好いいですと言われました.)

    Ben (ベン): GAMERA 3 has been recognized as the best monster movie in the world since GODZILLA in 1954. What do you think about the achievements of the work you achieved with Gamera 3? (ガメラ3は、1954年のゴジラ以来、世界中で最高の怪獣映画として認められてきました。ガメラ3で達成した仕事の成果についてどう思いますか?)

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): I think Iris and Trauma Gamera were able to perform with soul because of us “suit actors” in GAMERA 3: REVENGE OF IRIS. (『ガメラ3邪神イリス覚醒』ではイリスとトラウマガメラをスーツアクターとして魂を込めて演じるの事が出来たと思います.)

    Ben (ベン): Do you remember how long it took to film your role as Trauma Gamera and Iris in GAMERA 3? (ガメラ3のトラウマガメラとイリスとしてのあなたの役割を撮影するのにどれだけの時間がかかったか覚えていますか?)

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): I think the shooting period for GAMERA 3 was about 3 months. (ガメラ3の撮影期間は確か3ヶ月間くらいだったと思います.)

    Ben (ベン): Finally, do you think you will play a monster in future movies? (最後に、今後の映画で怪獣を演じると思いますか?)

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): I love monster movies, so I think I’ll participate if I hear talk about work. (怪獣映画は大好きなので仕事の話がくれば参加をすると思います.)

    Ben (ベン): Thank you for this interview. (このインタビューをありがとうございます.)

    Akira Ohashii (大橋明): Thank you. (ありがとうございます.)

    Akira Ohashii as Iris in a scene from GAMERA 3: THE REVENGE OF IRIS. Photo courtesy of Kadokawa. © 1999 KADOKAWA TNHN

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