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Chieko Baisho speaks about Ken Takakura for the first time: “He was an actor with a pretentious mind”

A Distant Cry From Spring

©2015 TIFF

As part of the “Ken Takakura and His Era: Commemorative Screening” to honor the actor, who passed away last November, director Yoji Yamada’s A Distant Cry From Spring was screened on October 25 at the 28th Tokyo International Film Festival. Actress Chieko Baisho, who starred with Takakura in 1980, spoke about her experiences working with Takakura at a talk show after the film.

All three films that Baisho and Takakura starred in together will be shown as part of the commemorative screening, with The Yellow Handkerchief (1977) and STATION (1981) following later in the festival. The event was the first time Baisho had spoken publicly about Takakura since his death. “Just like Kiyoshi Atsumi and Chishū Ryū, we’ll never see an actor like Ken again. Director Yamamoto used to say, the most wonderful actors are the least self-indulgent. People without self confidence play petty games, but he did nothing of the sort. He was really someone that I looked up to as an actor and a person.”

Baisho spoke of how she felt when she heard the sad news about Takakura. “Just as when Kiyoshi (Atsumi) passed away, it was a very great shock to have him suddenly no longer be with us.” Last month friend and fellow actress Naomi Kawashima also passed away, and although she has just read the eulogy at her memorial service and its memory was fresh in Baisho’s mind, she said, “I knew Naomi wasn’t in good health, but she passed away so suddenly. It was such a shock, as if a thick iron curtain had just dropped down before my eyes.” Still deeply affected by the actor’s passing, she continued, “I couldn’t watch Ken’s films or TV appearances. The film world has lost someone very important.”

When she first began filming The Yellow Handkerchief with Takakura, she said, “I could sense that he was a very observant and insightful person, and it made me nervous.” Then she made audience laugh with saying “Up until then I had been working with an actor with small eyes (Atsumi, in the Otoko wa Tsurai yo series).” She looked back fondly on their time together, describing one instance when they had tea in a cafe. Takakura accidentally dropped his watch in his glass of water. “I panicked but he just laughed, ‘It’s okay, it’s waterproof.’ He definitely had a mischievous streak.”

Baisho took the opportunity to pay tribute to the great actor in the heaven by singing a verse of the American pop song, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” in a capella, which she sings in her own concert. The Yellow Handkerchief was inspired by the song, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree”

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KEIRIN.JPThe 28th Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by Japan Keirin Association.TIFF History
27th Tokyo International Film Festival(2014)