By Makoto Tanaka / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer“Taifu Kazoku” (Stormy Family) starring Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and directed by Masahide Ichii opens on Sept. 6, after a delay caused by the arrest of a cast member.
The film’s production company was bombarded with requests that it be released.
“There’s nothing sadder than when a film we’ve worked so hard to produce doesn’t get released. I’m grateful to everyone who’s supported us,” Kusanagi said.
In the film, a married couple commits a robbery and then goes missing. At their fake funeral, their children get together and engage in ugly bargaining over how to divide their parents’ property.
Kusanagi plays eldest son Kotetsu, who tries to keep all the property for himself. Treated with contempt by the people around him, this character is the opposite of Kusanagi’s “good guy” image.
“Everyone has various facets. It’s like emphasizing the scummy part inside me,” he said.
The cast also includes Tomoya Nakamura and Megumi.
In recent years, Kusanagi has played helpless grown-ups in films and TV shows, as in the omnibus film “Kuso Yaro to Utsukushiki Sekai” (The Bastard and the Beautiful World), which was released in April last year.
“Basically, I never say no to job offers. The roles I get, and the timing at which they come to me, feel like god sent them. In a way, they’re miracles. I hope I can take on a new challenge each and every time,” he said seriously, then jokingly added, “If I don’t work, I can’t pay the rent!”
Kotetsu makes a menacing face with a bloody nose in one scene, and he dances frantically in another. Kusanagi seems to be enjoying playing the middle-aged loser.
“[By nature] I’m the type of person who wants to go home as early as I can, even without any tests or checking the scenes,” Kusanagi said.
But that’s changed since he worked with Ichii, who holds many rehearsals, makes meticulous preparations and carefully directs his work.
“I regretted how I used to be. The director has found a new person inside me,” he said.
After the breakup of boy band SMAP, Kusanagi has engaged in joint activities with fellow former SMAP members Goro Inagaki and Shingo Katori. By pure chance, films starring Inagaki and Katori have also been released this year — “Hansekai” (Another World) with Inagaki and “Nagimachi” (Waiting for the lull) with Katori. With the release of “Taifu Kazoku,” the three of them have broken new ground.
“I think I now have a broader capacity as a performer,” he said. “We [Kusanagi, Inagaki and Katori] give each other inspiration and encouragement. It’s been nearly two years since we started our fan site ‘Atarashii Chizu’ together. I’m happy that I’ve been able to take part in good productions.”
In addition to his work onscreen and onstage, Kusanagi has also opened his “YouTuber Kusanagi Channel.” More than 900,000 people have subscribed.
“My nephew sees me as his YouTuber uncle,” he said, laughing. “Social media is fun because you get to see fans’ reactions directly. Of course I want to do TV work, films and theater. I hope lots of people will get to know my work through social media.”