TATSUYA FUJIWARA ( Light Yagami )
Born in May 15th, 1982 in Saitama prefecture, Fujiwara passed the audition for Yukio Ninagawa' play "Shintokumaru" in 1997 when he was 15. He made his debut with the play at the Barbican Theater in London. He became famous for his extraordinary concentration and passionate performance, and started working for various fields; plays, films, TV programs and TV Commercials. In 2003, he played the main role in a play "Hamlet" (Directed by Yukio Ninagawa) and received many awards. He was also awarded the Best Actor at the 27th Japan Academy Awards for "Battle Royale", directed by Kinji Fukusaku, in 2001. In 2005, he made his NY debut with a play "MODERN NOH PLAYS " and received great reviews.
For this film adaptation of the comic "DEATH NOTE", one of the most important issues was the casting for the main character, Light Yagami. The title is not really an action film but more like a psychological thriller. The main character, Light is a university student learning law. He uses the DEATH NOTE to kill criminals in an attempt to make "an ideal world without crimes". The character has paralleled attractiveness. He is heroic but evil. Tatsuya Fujiwara, who has high reputed for his performances, was the only actor who could play this difficult role. He had played many complicated roles such as Hamlet, Toshinori in "Yoroboshi" and Akiya in "Battle Royale", and those experiences made the character ‘Light' alive.
"Light commits crimes with no emotion, and because this film does not have a lot of action scenes, playing Light became more difficult for me. The first time I read the original story, I thought that playing L would be more interesting because he was eccentric. Light does not have strong characteristic mannerisms like L. His feelings and thoughts could only be expressed on his face. For example, I tried to experiment with his smiles to go along with the different situations. The film became more interesting with his childhood friend, Shiori, who does not appear in the original story, and some scenes which does not exist in the original. It was so exciting to plan how to play ‘Light' for the astonishing climax of film version of "DEATH NOTE". Books in the film set of Light's room were useful for playing ‘Light'. I just felt like I understood the guy, Light. There were many legal books and books about crimes. Personally, there was a photo book on war that left a strong impression on Me." said Fujiwara.
The letters on DEATH NOTE in the film was written by Fujiwara himself. He said "I don't have any confidence on writings, so it is embarrassing…"
He also had to play with a real size Ryuk doll when the scenes with Ryuk were filmed, because Ryuk is created by CG. Fujiwara's performance succeeded in making the fake doll into a "reality".
"Dolls do not act so I was kind of doing a one-man show. Light and Ryuk are together in many scenes, so I was acting by myself a lot. It was actually hard. I think one of the most interesting parts about acting is creating atmosphere or space with other actors and actresses. I tried to communicate with the director a lot, instead of the communication with them. This film has many cuts, and we should have shot the same scenes with many different angles, which was also hard for me. It was a different experience from acting on a stage everyday for a month. I think our effort made the film more exciting and elaborate." said Fujiwara.
Fujiwara himself became a big fan of the original.
"My niece is the fan of the comic and she had told me about it. I read it when I got an offer for the role, and it was so great that I couldn't stop reading. Light keeps killing people with DEATH NOTE, but he has good intentions to make the world a better place and only kills criminals. Murder is a horrible thing, but I could understand his idea of making a new ‘ideal world'. The famous classic masterpiece "Crime and Punishment" by Dostoyevsky has the similar theme. DEATH NOTE is very eccentric story but depicts very permanent theme."
His other know works are "Battle Royale II: Requiem" (2003: Directed by Kinji & Kenta Fukasaku) and "Moonlight Jellyfish" (2004: Directed by Kosuke Tsurumi).
Kenichi Matsuyama ( L / Ryuzaki )
Born in Aomori on March 5th, 1985, Kenichi Matsuyama won the grand prize at "New style Audition" organized by HORIPRO×Boon×PARCO in 2001. He made the professional debut in the same year featured in an advertising campaign called "Looking for a new ‘new'" for PARCO.
His first feature film was Bright Future (Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa) in 2002. He played the lead in 2003 for the first time in Winning Pass (Directed by Shinichi Nakata). In 2005, he appeared consecutively in blockbuster films such as NANA(Directed by Kentaro Otani)and Otoko-tachi no Yamato /YAMATO(Directed by Junya Sato). Matsuyama with amazing versatility gets into any character he plays from a high-school student to a back musician or a navy soldier. He made a strong impression notably in Junya Sato's Otoko-tachi no Yamato /YAMATO playing a young man in wartime portraying his struggles for life.
Matsuyama plays in DEATH NOTE the role of L who is the biggest rival of Light, the protagonist. L was sent to Tokyo by ICPO as a trump card to investigate the series of criminals' sudden deaths. L's background is unknown. Matsuyama challenges L who is a prominently odd character with his slight stoop and habits to stay bare footed, to squat down on a chair or to eat only sweets but has the ability to corner Light by reasoning, gathering and analyzing information.
Matsuyama successfully transformed to look like L in the original manga with the eye makeup. L's squatting habit was apparently not easy for Matsuyama because he is not very flexible. Nonetheless, Matsuyama aggressively took part in making the film by choosing the kind of sweets L is supposed enjoy eating or considering the detail gestures of the character as L mocks the adults from the investigation headquarters.
"I'd like to play L as I think and feel. I would be happy if I could live L." said Matsuyama.
"Kira is a singular exhibitionist, a shamefully infantile criminal with false sense of justice." L provokes Kira as Matsuyama confronts his senior Tatsuya Fujiwara who plays Light. The face-off of the two actors is also a must-see in this film. "The two of them are rare actors who can play the beautiful young boys as portrayed in manga" said Shusuke Kaneko, the director of the film praising both Fujiwara and Matsuyama.
Asaka Seto ( Naomi Misora )
Born in Aichi on December 12th, 1976, Aska Seto is an actress in demand working widely for film, TV and TVCF. She made her filmic debut in 1992, and has stared in numerous films including 2/2 (2006 / Directed by Hidehiro Ito), Chakushin ari 2(2005╱Directed by Renpei Tsukamoto)and Travail(2002 / Directed by Kentaro Otani). She was recognized also in overseas for her performance in Bullets of Love(2001 / Directed by Andrew Lau)where she played a leading role.
Seto plays the role of Naomi Misora in "DEATH NOTE", the fiancee of Raye who is a FBI agent. Naomi goes after Kira alias Light, pursues the criminal and eventually bear the brunt of her own tragedy. Naomi Misora appears in the episode highly popular among the fans of the original manga.
"She is an awesome lady who went after the criminal, willing to sacrifice herself and fought hard. I tried to project that awesome spirit. I heard that there are many fans of Naomi Misora and felt some pressure. But I did my best not to betray the fans' expectation", said Seto.
Seto's presence with the beauty and strength is recognized not only in Japan but also internationally. She showed charisma and range portraying Naomi, the woman of both courage and tenderness who is an investigator but also a woman in love wishing for the happiness with the man she loves. The scene where Naomi corners Light is remarkable.
"The scene that made an impression on me was the subway scene. We had a subway train to ourselves to shoot the scene. This was never done and I don't think it would again…., provably. I don't really have a chance to use subway normally, so the shooting was pretty hard, but I enjoyed it. It was a very valuable shooting experience for me".
About "DEATH NOTE", "It's a very interesting film. The idea of a DEATH NOTE is scary. Anyone who had the name written on it would die and one can kill anyone by writing the name of the person. Reading the original manga kept me in suspense and made my heart pound. It frightens me to imagine, if such a notebook really existed, and if I were to suddenly have it in my hands", said Seto.
Seto's other work includes TV drama Oh-oku episode 1 (CX) and Nyokei Kazoku (TBS). A feature film BLACK NIGHT Japanese version she stared also will be released this summer.
Yu Kashii ( Shiori Akino )
Born in Kanagawa on February 16th, 1987, Yu Kashii spent her childhood in Singapore. She started her career as a model for a magazine called mc sister in 2001. She worked mainly for TV drama and TVCF before "Water Boys"(CX), a TV drama that led her to her film debut with "Lorelei: The Witch of the Pacific Ocean" in 2005. Kashii showed range playing the mysterious and complicated character that was a part of the machine (battleship) while being a human. She won New Actress Award in the same year at the 29th Yamaji Fumiko Award. The lucidity she projects in her performance in the numerous works makes Yu Kashii one of the most promising young actresses today.
Kashii plays the beautiful and talented Shiori Akino in "DEATH NOTE" who is an original character created for the film. Shiori goes to the same university as Light Yagami and has known him since the childhood. She loves Light, but disagrees with Light in that she believes that it's only the law that should try people. She plays an important role in revealing the ideal of Light.
Kashii was a keen reader to start with of the original manga of "DEATH NOTE".
"So, I was so happy to know that I got a part in the film, but at the same time, I was concerned if "DEATH NOTE" fans would accept Shiori, who is a new and original character to enter in the world of "DEATH NOTE". Shiori doesn't exist in the original work, so I hope people would instead enjoy through Shiori, not only the excitement of the original manga but also the elements that only the film can offer. Shiori is very innocent. She believes in justice, very earnest and "ordinary". So, that's why the way she thinks is closest to that of the audience. There were many things that I experienced for the first time in shooting this film, as having a whole bus, or museum to ourselves, or using the exterior screens in the streets of Harajuku and so on… I think it's a film I would not forget." Said Kashii.
Her other films include "Linda Linda Linda" (2005 / Directed by Nobuhiro Yamashita), "HOLD UP DOWN" (2005 / Directed by SABU) and "Until the Night Come Back" (2005 / Directed by Takashi Minamoto) and as for TV drama "Nyokei Kazoku"(TBS). Two feature films, "Starlit High Noon" (Directed by Yosuke Nakagawa) and The Pavillion "Salamandre" (Directed by Masanori Tominaga) will be released this summer.
Shigeki Hosokawa ( FBI agent Raye )
Born in Gifu on December 16th, 1971, Shigeki Hosokawa started his career as an actor in 1992, and has been working actively in film, TV drama and TVCF. He played the lead in a feature film for the first time in "Komachi" (Directed by Rokuro Mochizuki) in 2005. Further flourishing of his career is well expected.
Hosokawa plays in "DEATH NOTE" a FBI agent, Raye who investigates Kira case. Hosokawa's cool look and sharp movements match Raye who holds the key to greatly turn the story in the film.
"It's unlikely to have a Japanese FBI though, nonetheless what I did was to build the strength, tenderness and the feeling of mortification of the character I play", said Hosokawa who carefully portrayed the image of the original character who has a different name.
"It was pretty impressive having the subway to ourselves for shooting the subway sequence, the crucial moments for Raye. Thanks to the huge cooperation Fukuoka municipal subway gave us, we had the subway station from the point of last train until earliest train on the next day and on top that we had special train run 4 times for our shooting. Such tremendous cooperation made it possible to realize the film faithfully to the original work. It was an experience I was able to have because of the film".
About the film being the adaptation of a popular manga, "I feel happy for it's the adaptation into a live-action film of the super popular manga but at the same time pressure too. I also sense the enthusiasm in the approach where the films are to be released as part1 and 2, and this is quite unusual these days. But, anyhow it is scary to think if such a notebook really existed", commented Hosokawa.
Hosokawa's other films include "Masked Rider Hibiki" (2005 / Directed by Taro Sakamoto), "Taian ni butsumetsu" (1998 / Directed by Seiji Izumi) , "Yabu no naka" (Directed by Hisayasu Sato) . He plays in numerous TV dramas including NHK epic drama "Yoshitsune" (NHK) and "Masked Rider Hibiki" (EX). He appears in variety shows as well in recent years.
Erika Toda ( Misa Amane )
Born in Hyogo on August 17th, 1988, Erika Toda made her debut in Morning TV drama series "Audrey" (NHK) in 2001. She has been working mainly for TV drama and TVCF. "Engine" (CX) in April 2005 where she had a regular part got a high television rating and it led Toda in October of the same year to play the part of protagonist's beautiful and smart girlfriend in "Nobuta wo Produce" (NTV), a TV drama adapted from a bestseller novel. This drama further increased her popularity. Toda has been playing the heroine of a popular drama "Galcir" (NTV)since April this year. Toda is one of the hottest young actresses today.
"DEATH NOTE" is her first feature where she plays the role of Misa Amane alias Misa Misa. People were most curious to find out who would play this role. It was not only because Misa Amane being a popular character in the original manga, but also plays the important role in the development of the story.
"The original "DEATH NOTE" was nothing like what I'd read before. It surprised me from the start, so "I've never read anything as complicated and interesting as this!" I said to myself, and I got more involved in its world as I read on, so I am more than happy to be involved in this film. This is my first feature as well, so I can't wait to see the finished films", said Toda.
"I will do my best not to spoil the image of Misa Amane that the fans embrace", said Toda sincerely.
As for her first experience shooing in a film studio, "I enjoyed playing Misa, although it was tough for Misa being the character always so hyper from the start. And the director helped me to relax also by talking to me", she explained. Toda fitted so naturally into the original Misa's rather particular costume that it generated the excitement at the production site.
Shunji Fujimura ( Watari )
Born in Kanagawa on December 8th, 1934, Shunji Fujimura studied pantomime in Paris for one year. He started to work as a choreographer after he came back to Japan and choreographed for TV shows and TV commercials. He got a regular part in TV series as an actor for the first time in 1996. Fujimura since then has been working actively in various fields as TV variety show, TV drama, feature film, theatre and TVCF.
Fujimura plays in "DEATH NOTE", the role of Watari, an elderly gentleman who acts as the contact man to L who is ICPO's trump card. Despite Watari's nonchalant air about him, one may speculate he could be someone in important position. He appears in the important scene where he brings the Kira investigation team members to L.
"To play Watari, I thought his presence would come alive if I were able to project the mood of this mysterious old gentleman without the air of livelihood…." Fujimura said, and added, "We all played the characters from manga, weren't we? I think we all started to resemble the manga character that each played of during the filming" pointing out as nonchalantly as Watari and for that precisely he is just right for Watari. The crews were convinced that Fujimura matched perfectly the mysterious Watari. Fujimura also commented on the original work.
"For someone like myself who belongs to the analog world, I felt the sense of today's generation from the idea. It's amazing…."
Fujimura's other films include "Ghost Shout" (2004 / Directed by Renpei Tsukamoto), "Hero? Tenshi ni aeba" (2004 / Directed by Kosuke Tsurumi), "Ganryujima" (2003 / Directed by Seiji Chiba), "Quartet" (2000 / Directed by Jyo Hisaishi), "Hakuchi: The Innocent" (1999 / Directed by Makoto Tezuka), "Welcome Back", "Mr. McDonald" (1997 / Directed by Koki Mitani) and more.
Takeshi Kaga < Soichiro Yagami>
Born in Ishikawa on October 12th, 1950. Takeshi Kaga stared his career at SHIKI theater company and made his theatrical debut with "Jesus Christ Superstar". He has been working mainly in theater but also much for films and TVs. Kaga is a Japan Academy award winner for the best supporting role. His recent films include "Moyuru Toki: The Excellent Company" (2006 / Directed by Tatsuoki Hosono) and "Sengoku jieitai 1549" (2005 / Directed by Masaaki Tezuka).
Kaga is also much in demand for his voice with the subtle charm, does much voice over acting and narration as well.
In "DEATH NOTE", Kaga plays Soichiro Yagami, the chief of the investigation headquarter that goes after Kira case. Kaga shows range playing this character with certain amplitude that is a competent and dedicated detective who is also a father in the family.
Kaga's other films include "The Yen Family" (1988 / Directed by Yojiro Takita) , "Cabaret" (1986 / Directed by Haruki Kadokawa), "Mahjong horoki" (1984 / Directed by Makoto Wada), "Akuryo Island" (1981 / Directed by Masahiro Shinoda). As for his numerous theater works include "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde", "Les Miserables", "Macbeth" and others.