I decided to pass away with a smile at the very end
One of my strongest memories is from shooting episode 11 of Kamen Rider Drive. It was my first time appearing on the show, and I didn’t fully get how to portray my character. Because of that, I thought there’s no way I can do this…and I didn’t have a lot of experience as an actress to rely on either. Even though I’m confessing it now, it was really painful for me back then. It’s only recently that I’ve felt more confident in my role. It wasn’t until around episode 37 and episode 38 that I started to really get comfortable portraying Medic. She was a mystery to me up until then.
In Episode 38, Medic shows her true emotions for the first time. After Heart’s ultra-evolution, she drops to the ground crying and beating the ground, because some of her fellow Roidmudes have been destroyed. That was the first time I felt like I was able to open myself up to Medic as a character. I started to seriously thinking about Medic’s character, and I think that helped me to portray her better than I had in the past. Even though Brain becomes stronger throughout the series, he never understands Medic despite her motives being clear.
After that, I felt more comfortable and familiar with Medic. It became a lot of fun to integrate her character and essence into my life. The cast and the staff had a lot of conversations with me about my portrayal of the character and my acting ability. After I gained more confidence, I was able to better relate to my colleagues and communicate with them better. My manager even noticed and said, “You’ve really changed haven’t you?” It was around then (June 21st) that I turned 20 years old and hit a milestone in my personal life. I got to a really good place. I only wish I had taken the opportunity to blossom like that sooner…that’s what I think. (Bitter smile)
Understanding my role with an extended field of vision
Another time I think I really had a breakthrough was during episode 41 and episode 42, when I was playing Misuzu Hatori. After I first read the script, my image of Medic altogether changed, and I felt like I was playing just a totally different person – an ordinary girl. That really deepened my understanding of Medic’s character. Right after the first global freeze, when Medic turned “white”, it made me feel really attached to Medic. Because she really did go white – body and mind! And her loyalty was strong. My heart went all warm when I realized that I had fallen in love with Medic’s character. When she absorbs the dark emotions from humans, she literally turns black – body and mind. It was so much fun to portray both sides of Medic’s personality.
I think white Medic is a bit like a nightingale – she’s really powerful. And black Medic is what remains after someone has lost their pure heart. In episode 42, I was able to play both sides of her personality. White medic and black medic are different, even down to the way they laugh. When she’s white, she has a soft smile. Black Medic is a bit naughty, and has a fearless, bold smile. In episode 42, I also tried to use different facial expressions depending on which version of Medic I was. So I read the script many times, to perfect my change in facial expression.
Aside from all of that, I really enjoyed my time with my colleagues. When I was little, I had a dog that I used to take care of with my mom, and I really loved it. So when someone said, “Wow, you play really well with that dog” and I was thinking “haha! Of course!” and my eyes were shining. I really do love dogs, and anytime I see them on set I get excited.
In episode 43 Medic goes through many changes. After Banno (Tenjuro) modifies Medic, and Heart discovers that he’s been betrayed by Brain who is working with Banno, Medic struggles a lot. I spent a lot of time with Banno, Heart, and Brain during filming those two episodes, and I had a lot of feelings about what was happening in the plot. The work of Mr. Warabino and Mr. Matsushima was a huge inspiration to me, and they changed how I decided to portray my character. In the end, the shooting of the final scenes were impressively handled. Medic’s language changed a bit at the end of episode 44. When I was in one form, I was using a generous tone of language. But after I had been brainwashed, I tried speaking with no suppression of my anger, and after Brain died I went back to using polite language, to be more like any ordinary woman who talks and listens to other people.
To be honest, I didn’t think Medic would survive episode 26 to the very end. Actually I thought in 10 episodes she’d have gotten taken out by the Kamen Riders…really, that’s what I thought. “I’m sure she’ll be done after this episode” – I used to think that all the time (smile). I was shocked when she became part of the main cast, and was included in more and more episodes. I used to just pray…ohh, I hope I last just one more episode! And when I did, I was really overjoyed.
At Medic’s core, she found her reason for being and realized her value. Medic has an incredible healing ability, which she begins using in the latter part of the series. Sometimes she can heal the wounds of the innocent (overnight) with a power she doesn’t fully understand or realize. When I first read in the scripts that she had this ability, I was overjoyed because it brought a whole new perspective to my understanding of the character. That’s around when I decided that when Medic does face her final scene, I want her to go out with a smile. I thought, “Even though it’ll be painful, I want to do the final scene with strength and show Medic’s character”. While we were shooting the final scene, our director Shibasaki (Takayuki) didn’t give any directions so I decided to include my smile, just as I had planned it. After we all said “Goodbye”, I cried so many tears. If you think about Heart, he’s a character that doesn’t show much emotion. But Medic isn’t like that. I was told from the director and the other staff members that crying with a smile on my face was a really powerful way to end the scene. So I’m glad it turned out that way.
More than anything, I’m glad that when I passed away it was as white Medic. She returned to her original self and died thinking “about Heart”, with thoughts of him on her mind. Medic was happy, and that was a wonderful way to finish out her story. I get so emotional thinking about it, still. She was a bad guy, but everyone says stuff like “she was cute” and “I loved her” – and I think so too.
My favorite scene is when Medic transforms before going to Sigma with Shinnosuke and Heart. I had been filming the day before we did that shot too, and I thought “I’m going to do even better than before!” and “I can do this forever!” – stuff like that to get myself fired up. After we finished, I thought “Ohh man, it’s over”, and “I leave it to the Roimudes from here on!” and “I really gave it my best!” all that kind of talk…(laughs).
I fell in love with Medic more and more
Rather than saying “I did it!” after playing Medic, now I wonder, “What more can I do next time?” I am finally able to enjoy my work! And I don’t regret any of it. Right now I have to think about taking advantage of my experience gained from my time in “Drive”. While portraying Medic, I decided that I want to keep acting. I learned a lot from my older colleagues, and I want to put their advice into practice. In addition to regular acting, there’s all of the after-filming editing, action sequence filming, and so many other opportunities to be in front of the camera. And I want to learn more about all of it. Since everyone’s gotten a chance to see me, Fumika Baba, I want to continue to make use of my experience in “Drive” to further my acting career.
After we shot our final marketing photographs for the final episodes, I started to tell the cast and staff that “Fumika Baba has grown up” – because I’d learned so much over the course of the series working alongside everyone. There were a lot of hard times during filming, but overall I had a lot of fun doing it. I really enjoyed how Medic progressed, especially during the second half of the series. She became as loyal as a dog, and I fell in love with her character more and more. I really empathized with her character. I owe it all to the staff and my colleagues for giving me the opportunity to become Medic, and learned a lot from everyone. I’m really grateful for that opportunity.
Although the TV series has ended, I’ll still be playing Medic for a little while longer. I will play Medic with a lot of love, so please check me out, Fumika Baba, in future scenes.
“Medic, I love you forever!” – Fumika Baba
Translation by Fandom Services, paid for by this blog to the benefit of all English-speaking and English-learning Kamen Rider fans.