The return of actress Yamaguchi Tomoko to acting after an absence of 16 years at what was probably the height of her fame following the drama Long Vacation, dominated the headlines of many news articles on the press conference for Fuji TV’s new Tuesday prime time drama, Going My Home.
What is more notable, is the involvement of movie director Koreeda Hirokazu who is making a TV series for the first time. Best known for critically acclaimed movies like Maboroshi, Daremo Shiranai, Aruitemo Aruitemo, Koreeda has written Going My Home’s entire script and is also responsible for directing the production. This drama reunites him with both Abe Hiroshi and YOU who starred in the wonderfully moving Aruitemo Aruitemo.
Going My Home explores a favourite theme of Koreeda’s: family relationships. Abe plays 45-year-old salaryman Tsuboi Ryota who is always caught in the middle at home and at the office and feels that he does not belong to any place, even as he leads a rather happy life. The sudden collapse and hospitalisation of his estranged father brings about a transformation of his life. Learning that he had been looking for a small legendary living creature called the “Kuna” in his birthplace, Ryota begins his own search. This gets his family and the people he encounters involved, and causes an uproar.
Acting for the first time with Yamaguchi who plays Ryota’s wife in Going My Home, Abe expresses joy and gratitude, “I’m happy that Yamaguchi-san chose this drama for her comeback after 16 years. She and I both started out as models, and because she has been successful in the acting world, I’ve been able to be an actor with this big body. I’m truly grateful for that.” Yamaguchi laughingly responds, “Abe-san is really charming even when acting as a weak, cowardly man. Every time I see him and we converse, I come to like him more and more. I adore him!” This makes Abe embarassed.
In connection with Ryota’s big size but weakness, the cast are called on to share what they think is small about themselves. Abe gamely divulges “It’s when I greet the child actors on set and they don’t respond. A part of me would hurt the whole day. Everyday I say “Hi” with a pounding heart.”
Miyazaki Aoi, who stars as a mysterious woman holding the key to the story, says “I’m always playing with the child actors. But when they’re sleepy, they won’t entertain and instead pretend that they’re sleeping. I realise how great mothers in the world are.”
For Nishida Toshiyuki who plays the childhood friend of Ryuta’s father and eyewitness of the legendary ‘Kuna’, it is when he leaves a hotel he has stayed at. “I don’t want them thinking that the room which Nishida Toshiyuki stayed in is dirty, so I would check for fallen hair, neaten the bedspread and even fold the towels I’ve used. I won’t be satisfied unless it is all returned to what it was before use.” This confession gets the audience laughing.
Going My Home starts airing every Tuesday at 10.00 p.m. from 9 October. The first episode will be a 2-hour special beginning at 9.00 p.m.