Yoshio Tsuchiya

Biography

Yoshio Tsuchiya grew up in his ancestral home in the countryside of Japan--the very grounds where Akira Kurosawa would later film KAGEMUSHA (1980). Tsuchiya's father was a professor of literature at the prestigious Waseda University in Tokyo, and Tsuchiya grew up hearing as bedtime stories the works of William Shakespeare, of which Tsuchiya's father was the Japanese translator. Such a theatrical childhood no doubt stayed with Tsuchiya, who studied to be a doctor, and did indeed complete medical school. But he still felt drawn to acting, and so joined the highly regarded Hayuza theater group. He intended to do stage work entirely at first, until Akira Kurosawa persuaded him to audition for SHICHININ NO SAMURAI in 1952. Though reluctant at first, Tsuchiya acted his audition with such vigor that Kurosawa was bowled over. So was the public at large when Tsuchiya's fiery Rikichi, the most passionate of all the farmers in SEVEN SAMURAI, made his mark upon the film's release in 1954. Toho began to groom Tsuchiya as a star in the making, but he was less interested in fame than in the quality of roles he played. Kurosawa, too, was intensely protective of his discovery, counseling the young actor to work only with directors of quality. Early in 1957, Kurosawa introduced Tsuchiya to one such director, his close friend Ishiro Honda, whose classic GOJIRA had made its mark in the same year as SEVEN SAMURAI. Tsuchiya and Honda took to each other immediately--in later years he would call Kurosawa and Honda "my other two fathers"--and the actor, an avid UFO buff, impressed the director by insisting on the role of the Mysterian commander in their first science fiction collaboration, EARTH DEFENSE FORCE (1957). Since the Commander's face was never to be seen, Honda had had no illusions of getting a first-rate actor to play the part, and actually tried to talk Tsuchiya out of it. Toho, too, wanted him to play a role with a face the audience would get to see. But the iconoclastic Tsuchiya prevailed, and Honda was very touched by his persistence. He acted in numerous pictures for Honda through 1970, when he largely retired from movies in favor of the stage. After appearing in nearly every Kurosawa film after 1954, their collaboration came to an end with RED BEARD in 1965. (The two-year shoot had cost Tsuchiya a role in Honda's popular monster picture EARTH'S GREATEST BATTLE, 1964.) Kurosawa attempted to cast Tsuchiya in both KAGEMUSHA and RAN, but Tsuchiya's stage schedules would not permit. He did, however, narrate as well as appear in a 1991 TV documentary on the making of SEVEN SAMURAI. That same year, he made his first appearance in a monster film in over 20 years, playing the self-important magnate Shindo in GOJIRA VS. KING GHIDORA, which became one of his very favorite acting jobs. Tsuchiya's fierce but controlled persona has not dulled with age, and he remains more in demand than his schedule can handle. He still prefers the stage to films or TV, and usually does at least one stage tour a year. He is also a noted essayist, on subjects ranging from his work with Kurosawa to his interest in UFOs; several books of his work have been published.

Filmography

Movie Name Vizyon Tarihi
Yedi Samuray — Shichinin no Samurai 1 January 1970