I want to spend my last scene as Medic with a smile, I thought.
So, your first scene in this drama put you in a pinch!?
My first time acting in a drama series was during “Drive”. There was so much going on – action scenes, and all of the challenges that the actors in the Kamen Rider suits had to face on set. It seemed to me like everybody else on staff had so much more experience than me and knew exactly what to do. Some of the staff had been working on the set of Kamen Rider for many years. But, everyone around me was kind and gave me good advice. I didn’t have any brothers growing up, but when I was a kid if I woke up early on Sundays I’d watch shows like “Kamen Rider” and “Precure” (laughs). Still, I was so shocked when I passed the audition to be a part of Kamen Rider Drive. And it’s bizarre to see myself on TV, but it makes me really happy. When I went for my audition, I wore a black dress. Partly because I thought it would fit for a villain character to be wearing black, but also because I normally just wear a lot of black clothing. It’s like it was my fate to portray Medic. I didn’t even know what the story would be yet! So I really just got lucky. (laughs)
At first, I didn’t really grasp Medic’s character. I had this image in my head about what Roimudes should look like and how they should behave, but as we went through the filming I would think to myself, “Ahhh, what am I even doing?!”, and I’d think that I wasn’t able to do my job! – stuff like that. I was sure I was going to get fired in the middle of the shoot. But from the outside, everybody thought I was doing just fine. From the point of view of the camera, I was keeping up with the lines and I wasn’t in any trouble. I was constantly checking myself all through filming each episode, but when the show came on TV I used to shout – “Oh, please don’t make me watch!” – that’s really how I felt. But at the same time, it was really inspiring to see myself on TV and it made me want to do even better. The rest of the cast and our manager kept cheering me on to keep doing my best, too. One time our manager said to me, “Stop thinking about what you’re doing, and just get through the scene!” and that made a big difference for me. It was really good advice, and it helped me, because I have a tendency to be very self-critical. And like a Roimude, I guess I have a tough time dealing with my own human emotions. I really have a link with Medic, a lot of the times we think the same way. I’ve got a pretty “sharp tongue” and can be kind of “harsh” – you could say. (laughs) So maybe the character for Medic is really just based on me (laughs). In any case, in the end it was an easy character to portray.
During episode 38 (“Why is the Devil Still Seeking Evolution?”) Medic has a really impactful scene. In it, there’s a scene where Medic and Heart (Tomoya Warabino) embrace. And for the first time I think it’s a scene where Medic really expresses her emotions. In the script, there was a line direction for Medic to be “crying”, but I had so much anxiety over this and discussed it with the director. I asked why she would be crying over Heart in the first place. After we talked about it, we did another take of the scene, and I started to understand where Medic’s emotions should really be. It was a really complicated scene with a lot going on with Medic. In Medic’s main episode (Episode 42: Where is the Truth About the Goddess?) she really made her feelings clear. No matter if she’s Black Medic or White Medic, the way she feels about the three main characters in her life remains the same. When I read through the script, I thought about this a lot. I thought I’d want to portray the scene without much sadness. That was my thought as I acted out the script, too. Even when she reverts back into being Black Medic, she still cares about her friends, and she still cares for Heart, and she still doesn’t want to hurt Shinnosuke. I’ll never forget Medic’s final scene; she’s smiling even though she’s sad because she’s seeing her allies for the last time. Even though Shinnosuke is dead, in my mind he’s still perfectly alive and well (laughs). When I heard that his character would die on “Drive” I couldn’t bear it, I just wanted to protect him. I think Brain (Shota Matsushima) and Heart thought about Medic too, in the same way that Medic thought about Heart and Shinnosuke, and Chase (Taiko Katono) and Kiriko (Rio Uchida) and Go (Yu Inaba)…all the same way. It was a painful farewell, but done very beautifully, I think.
Now that you’re turning 20, what are your goals as an actress?
All of the cast members on “Drive” were older than me, and I think of them all like my big brothers and big sisters. I had to act in opposition to most of the cast for most of the show, but it was fun. I just had to grin and bear through it. Mr. Takeuchi was especially funny to work with. He was always the main guy, the mood maker, making everybody laugh. Of course, Mr. Inada and Mr. Katono were also hilarious – total goofs (laughs). Mr. Warabino said to me during a winter shooting – “Hey aren’t you cold?” – and I think I was closer to him than anybody else at the time, because he noticed that I was and he lent me his coat. When Mr. Warabino did the “Crank In” scene, he kept making everybody laugh on the set. He also used to joke around with the camera men and make them smile all through filming the episodes. He made everybody laugh. I’m really thankful to him for doing that. I’m usually a pretty shy person, so it’s hard for me to connect with others, but every day he was drawing me out of my shell and getting me to joke around with the other cast members. Lately we’ve even been hanging out during our personal time. I think of all of the “Drive” cast members, we’ve probably spent the most time together (laughs). The love the cast has for each other really overflows into the actual show, I think.
After a whole year of filming, I think I grew a lot. But I don’t really know for sure. During that time, our director Mr. Hidenori Ishida said “Just make sure you keep up a better face than everyone else”. And I think that changed my attitude a bit (laughs). There are a lot of female fans of Kamen Rider now, and now many of them might recognize my voice or my face from the show. Some of the cast members have gone on to continue their acting careers, or have begun works as gravure idols, and I think what I want to do most after finishing “Drive” is to continue my work as an actress. I want to improve – and get the opportunity to work in other drama series and in film. I’d also love to continue with my singing and dancing career. “Fumika Baba has a lot of different faces” – that’s what I want people to notice. I can do a lot of different things, as an actress.
I turned 20 years old while filming “Drive”. So I think I changed from how I was when I was filming the first 10 or 20 episodes. Now that I’m in my 20s, I want to do a lot – and one of the top things on my list is to be a college student, and to visit Korea. After my experience filming “Drive”, I definitely want to take on bigger and even more challenging roles.
Translation by Fandom Services, paid for by this blog to the benefit of all English-speaking and English-learning Kamen Rider fans.