The Exclusive Interview with Manami Higa from Fuji Television’s Thursday night drama “My Fair Prince.”
Q: What was your impression of the script when you read it for the first time?
This is a completely original story, and at first, I was wondering what the “enthusiast” concept within the drama’s title was all about. But I came to realize that it was a wonderful depiction of the beauty of finding something that genuinely makes you feel passionately about and gives you motivation for. Regardless of the age you are, people can get heart tingling sensations for something they are really into at any time. Also, since we live in an age where women are becoming more independent and active, I think the content would be applicable in that aspects as well. In the story, my character must raise a disappointing young guy, who she meets by chance (lol). It had a sense of comedy with tempo, that made me read through the script immediately and I thought to myself, “I can't wait to see this!” The storyline seemed quite catchy, and I believed it would make a great romantic drama.
Q: What was your feeling towards the whole concept of being “enthusiastic” for something before you came across the story?
To be honest, I still have not personally discovered it yet. When I'm playing Izumi, I can feel like I have so much passion for “Kento-sama,” but in my personal life, I don't have something that I'm obsessively into. The drama made me realize that I must find it.
Q: After playing Izumi, have you gradually come to discover it?
Well, I don’t think it's something you should force yourself to find. I think it's a random encounter. Anyway, Izumi herself often says that people can become so strong just by finding something they really like that makes their life worth living. Although I think the level of this depends on each person. It’s been 15 years since I came to Tokyo, and my work has always been my first “priority.” Well, I don't even like to call it work, but I just simply love the process of creating something together on set. This couldn’t be more interesting. I've met a lot of people and played varying roles. During it all, I had many regrets and failures, but they became my spiritual sustenance, and I was able to keep going. That's why my career will always be something I will continue to strive for, but the drama has stimulated me to broaden my horizons so that I can find something I’m passionate about apart from work.
Q: So, there are many heart throbbing scenes?
Of course! Tell me about it. Some romantic parts really made me feel that heart tingling sensation. Even actresses can feel nervous in various scenes. They just don’t obviously show it. However, I haven't experienced many romantic dramas before, so I don't know how to make that expression when your heart is pounding with love, and I'm trying to figure out how. I asked the director and producer, “how did it go?” and “was it okay?” after each shoot. To begin with in the world of acting, there is probably no right answer, so I occasionally wonder how far I should approach some of the scenes. In romantic scenes, I try to make sure that I’m deeply in the moment to make it realistic for the audience, even though it’s a fictional story.
Q: You put on Instagram that you started “educating a prince.” Even though it’s a fictional story, how do you feel about it all?
It’s exciting (lol). I wouldn’t say it's an “education.” There are many scenes where the characters are a bit childish and argue with each other, but it's fun to play the role. It's not like some boss has asked her to do it. It's because the character passionately wants to raise him as an ideal prince. Even though I’m not the perfect one to “educate” others, I am enjoying all of this as a pseudo experience. At first, the prince himself is kind of like a raw stone. I'm glad that when you polish the “stone,” it sparkles and shines, as it takes in everything that you put in at the same time. It’s like, “he’s learned to speak in a right way!” or “he’s more polite now!” There are scenes where all of this is depicted, and Izumi seems so glad. You can tell from her facial expressions. I think it's almost like a maternal instinct. I don't want to call it as far as being his mother, but it was a new discovery that I was able to see this kind of feeling come out for my character. For this part, it's not like the heart tingling sensations of when you fall in love, but rather the feelings of joy and heartwarming excitement.
Q: What’s it like to have these kinds of instincts turn into love?
To be honest, when Keisuke Watanabe and Sei Shiraishi’s characters are chatting in the scenes, it kind of made Izumi feel a little strange. I realized that she was a bit jealous, and this kind of feeling may eventually lead to a person falling in love. Izumi is pure and straightforward, but she covers up those parts to herself and is obtuse about it, which I thought was rather realistic. I personally can relate to all of this because I have characteristics which are quite similar. I hope to be able to inspire the viewers through the drama.
Q: What’s your impression of working with Keisuke Watanabe?
Even though younger than me, he’s someone I can depend on. I’m glad that the role of the prince is played by him. You don’t get many like him who’s down-to-earth with his background. He came into this industry after working in the real world, so I feel that he has that sense of a right perspective. He can see and judge things around him quite calmly. We also share the same passion, so it's fun to be with him. He picks up on all my mishaps adding his humorous side which I think is very charming. But I still think there are more positive aspects to him which he hasn’t shown yet. I'm sure he's making it apparent bit by bit, so I’m excited to see many of his other aspects. I'm glad to have worked with him because he has a charm that makes you want to see his progress as an actor in the future. I think the times I spent together with him has created a good atmosphere that goes beyond just acting. It helped me to bring out the good expressions and emotions for Izumi that I had never imagined. Isn’t this the best way for a drama production?