Here’s a behind the scenes exclusive interview with the star of our current Monday night 9PM drama, “Asagao-Forensic Doctor,” Juri Ueno. We hope you enjoy it!
Q When you were first offered the part, what kind of areas particularly attracted you the most?
As well as the feeling of complete and utter excitement for receiving the role, I immediately felt a sense of a strong duty and purpose as an actress. After that, I went over the script, and I simply looked forward to filming for the series.
Q What kind of a woman do you think ‘Asagao’ is?
I think she has some similarities with her parents. The way she diligently pursues one specific thing like a job right until the end, is kind of similar to her dad’s and her cheerful and relaxed personality is like her mom’s. Her mother passed away in the Great East Japan Earthquake, and her body has still not been found. How and in what way she had died still remains a painful mystery, so Asagao could be taking on her daily job, in order to relieve herself from these kind of painful memories, through sincerely examining bodies of the deceased. And, I also hope that through the story, the viewers can empathize with the painful emotions of people who currently live with the experience of having lost someone special from the earthquake. Above all, this is a heartwarming drama series, in which the characters live through their daily lives, whilst deeply caring for one another. It is also the first Monday night “Getsuku” prime-time drama series in a new Japanese era, so I am also appreciative of being able to be a part of something quite special.
Q Can we talk a bit about your current role as a forensic doctor?
I played the role of a pediatric surgeon in the drama series “Good Doctor,” and one important point to mention is that, the number of forensic doctors in practice is even less than pediatric surgeons. The style of a dissecting room is completely different from an operation room, and you also have a completely different job at hand. When I had the chance to read a book written by a forensic scientist, it made me realize, it is a job that is connected to an emotional and sensitive state of one’s mind, and its relation to psychology of people. It is important to focus on listening to the voices and the hearts of the deceased, in order to uncover the real reason for one’s death. These kinds of reasons explain why a forensic doctor has to be especially sensitive and be aware of the ‘human aspects’ during work.
Q So, the character Taira is not only Asagao’s father, but also her work buddy?
I think it’s great that both Asagao and Taira have a good father and daughter relationship, who are also working together. Being on set with Saburo himself makes me feel comfortable too! Saburo started to follow my twitter page, so I decided to follow his too. He even “Likes” my tweets which has nothing to do with the drama series (lol). It makes me happy, because it’s just like the genuine relationship between Asagao and Taira in the story.This is also kind of like my first time properly working with him, even though I had an opportunity to appear in a same drama series with him before. Back then, we weren’t actually acting in the same scene...
Q Since “Nodame Cantabile,” this is your first-time appearance on a Monday night drama series in 13 years. Do you have any special feelings about this?
I was thirteen when I had my first audition in this industry. Knowing that it has been so many years since then, it feels like I have just returned from a very long journey.The director is Shin Hirano, who I also had the pleasure of working with on the drama series “Engine.” At first, he was like, “you’re a staff member” ...and I was like pardon (lol)? But, this kind of frank attitude showed me that he has a relaxed attitude towards me, and I’m quite happy about it. I thought to myself, so I’m a “staff” member (lol). This doesn’t mean that I can do something special, but I just hope that I’m being a positive influence on everyone around me on set, without pulling anyone’s leg.
Q What are some of the key scenes in the drama series?
There is a scene in which Asagao is having a meal with her dad. At first, I thought that it would be somewhere like at a dining table in a living room. However, it was in fact at a Japanese-style table. And, when they are seated for the meal in the scene, they always leave a vacant space at the table where their mother always used to sit.This is even the same for when they are on the train too. In essence, this shows that her presence is still very much alive in their hearts. So, I hope that the viewers are also picking up on these kinds of small details. Also, when I asked the director, “What do you always try to keep in mind during the making of this series?” he answered, “eating as much as you can.” And mentioned that it is because “eating” literally means to ‘live.’ This becomes particularly important for Asagao, bearing in mind the content of the work that she is doing every day.