Fullmetal Alchemist Live-Action Movie – Interview with Actor Ryosuke Yamada and Seiyō Uchino


*This is a translated article by QooApp under the permission of SPICE. Reproduction in any form without permission is prohibited.

Based on the popular manga series by Hiromu Arakawa, the two-part Fullmetal Alchemist live-action movies, The Vengeance of Scar and The Final Transmutation is currently releasing in Japanese theatres with tons of acclaim.

Today, we will be interviewing Ryosuke Yamada, who plays the main character Edward Elric in the Fullmetal Alchemist live-action movies and talk about his experience in bringing the story to life by becoming the perfect actor from the outside, and unabashedly revealing the body he has spent six months building up.

We also interview Seiyo Uchino, who took on the dual roles of Van Hohenheim/Father, as his role shines through the silver screen. Uchino was a major obstacle in front of Edward and engaged in a fierce acting battle. What was it like to appear in this popular series for Yamada and Uchino? In this interview, you’re about to find out!

Seiyō Uchino, Photo by iwa

Imagination is What Differentiates the World of Fullmetal Alchemist

Q: When you appeared in the first Fullmetal Alchemist live-action movie, you took on the role of Edward with extraordinary determination. When acting for these two new movies, did you try to maintain that strong affection, while still paying attention on convey what the movies were about?

Ryosuke Yamada: Certainly. Back when I was offered the role of Edward, I was under a tremendous amount of pressure because I loved the character so much, and Fullmetal Alchemist is a franchise that is loved by people all over the world.

At first, I even was puzzled, wondering if I could take on the role of Edward. But as I played the role, the director’s passion for the film made me more and more passionate about it. The first film was the beginning of the story, so I felt that I wanted to complete the story with both the dirty and beautiful sides of human beings. The movie depicts a journey where every person is walking toward hope.

Though it has been about five years since the last Fullmetal Alchemist film, I never lost my passion to play the role of Edward. I was very happy to be a part of the movies once again.

Q: Did you have any contact with the director over the past five years? Did you ever discuss with him in regards to the sequel?

Yamada: I had been in contact with the producer and we even talked about when we could do the sequel. There were a lot of preparations for this film, so the staff was working as if they were not sure if they could do it, but were willing to give it a try.

I also heard that the director was also starting to make preparations, albeit little by little. However, I was not sure when he would give the go-ahead, so I was very nervous. Although 4 years (until the filming) may seem long, they went by surprisingly quick, and since this is the last year of my 20s, I think I was lucky to be able to do it around this time.

Q: So,you can say that you have no regrets after filming the Fullmetal Alchemist movies?

Yamada: Well, if I said I did, I would get in trouble, wouldn’t I? (laughs alongside the interviewer) But no, I do not.

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Seiyō Uchino, Photo by iwa

Q: Thank you very much for your responses. Now, Uchino-san, you play a key role in this new Fullmetal Alchemist movies, so I got to ask: How did you accept the offer?

Uchino: Originally, I didn’t know anything about Fullmetal Alchemist. But after reading a few chapters, I thought: “Oh, this is an amazing work. It has a magnificent worldview, and the themes of warfare, peace and racial issues all come in one piece!”.

I felt it was a work that even adults could enjoy immensely. Also, Director Sori gave me a lecture on the current Japanese CG technology with the monitor and told me how he (points to Yamada) was filmed in the first film, which was just him running and jumping down in the middle of nowhere, and put it into CG.

I was shown the results, and I thought: “Wow, this is amazing! I was able to witness the high quality of today’s CG technology!”. I thought that if I could thoroughly sculpt a role as an actor within that worldview, it would be a very exciting job, and that is why I accepted.

Q: So you were attracted to the story and the worldview of Fullmetal Alchemist created by the director. How did you feel about the role?

Uchino: I thought it would be fun to play two different types of roles, and I thought, “That sounds fun too! I thought. But when I actually did it, I found it very hard. Both of the roles themselves and the duality I had to do between them.

Yamada: But you did all of them successfully, didn’t you?

Uchino: Well yes: I was told: “the voice of the dwarf in the flask was also done by Ms. Uchino, by the way.” The director said: “You should also do the voice of the black one-eyed monster.” It was the first time in my entire career as an actor that I had to do a monster-like role, and it was also my first time doing CG, so it was a work full of new challenges for me.

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(C) 2022 Hiromu Arakawa / SQUARE ENIX (C) 2022 Movie Fullmetal Alchemist 2 & 3 Production Committee

Q: I was honestly impressed by the power of Yamada-san and Uchino-san’s acting in the Fullmetal Alchemist live-action movies. This brings me to the next question: What about the CG-producing process, was it fun and what were the main difficulties?

Yamada: There is no such thing as fun to do at the chroma screen, is there?

Uchino: Well, there was for me…

Yamada: Oh! (laughs). I see. Well, I think you have to be really imaginative to do greenback, so I feel like we are all creating together on site, and I really like that atmosphere. There’s this feeling of excitement when everything is complete that you can’t experience very often.

Uchino: That’s right. It was interesting for me, and it was also difficult. Usually, when you go to a film set, the art director sets up a concrete set, so you can be instantly immersed in it, without getting lost. It allows a performance with a certain degree of ease.

But this time, there is no such thing. All you got is you and a green background. For example, if we’re doing a scene of a character walking through nature, we have to use our imagination, and act lines such as “What a nice view…” with our own imaginations.

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(C) 2022 Hiromu Arakawa / SQUARE ENIX (C) 2022 Movie Fullmetal Alchemist 2 & 3 Production Committee

Q: Was that a challenge for you as an actor?

Uchino: My acting experience mainly comes from the stage, so I already get used to it. Fortunately, the audience can imagine the situations that the actors will be in when they perform there. However, I realized how much my acting is supported by the surroundings. This time, I thought to myself, “This is what an actor does. You must have a thorough understand at the scenario, the original story, and the director’s worldview in order to embrace the role.” In that sense, it was a training experience, and that is what made it interesting for me.

Immersing Yourself So Much That You Aren’t The Person You Know

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Seiyō Uchino, Photo by iwa

Q: Did you inspire by each other as actors and how you feel about each other’s works and roles in the Fullmetal Alchemist live-action movies?

Uchino: SF movies that utilize CGI technology are very popular in Hollywood. When we were talking in our free time, Yamada-kun shares many example videos. He would enthusiastically say things like “This is how they are doing it over there!” , and would talk passionately about it.

I remember that he said that: “The level of CG in Hollywood movie is very high, but Japan is on par now, so maybe we can do our best, too!” He had a very high level of awareness among his co-stars, and I felt that his determination and attitude to “make a CG movie” were much higher than those of the other actors. In that sense, I thought it was admirable that he believed in the director’s vision. I was very prepared and aware of that, so I learned a lot from him.

Yamada: Well, but it really is difficult, isn’t it? There were many things I could not have imagined. But I knew from the start that I must not be too different from Mr. Uchino and the other members of the cast. It would have been difficult for the director to explain to each one of them, so if there was something I could share from my past experiences, I would do my best to share it with them.

Uchino: Aha, yes. I’m sure the director appreciated that. Directors referring to the general job, not the movie director of Fullmetal Alchemist) have so much to do and it is impossible to convey that kind of information to all actors. So the more conscious one is, the bigger the ripple effect on his fellow actors, I guess. I think that role was absolutely huge.

Yamada: I am glad to hear you say that. The scale of the Fullmetal Alchemist live-action movies was so much larger than the first film, and although CGI is not everything, the quality was so different that I was really surprised.

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(C) 2022 Hiromu Arakawa / SQUARE ENIX (C) 2022 Movie Fullmetal Alchemist 2 & 3 Production Committee

Q: What was your impression of Mr. Uchino’s attitude on the set and his preparation for the roles from your point of view?

Yamada: I am way less of acting experience compared to Mr. Uchino, and it might be really presumptuous of me to say this. But the way he immerses himself in the role on the set is completely different than I’ve expected. Depending on which of the two roles he is currently playing, the atmosphere that he created is really different.

That goes even with the speech pattern. I feel more at ease when he’s in the Hohenheim role, but when he’s in the Father role, I felt a bit more distant. The director told me that he wanted to make contact with me in order to create a relationship between parents and their children. I learned a lot from that kind of immersion in the role. Not to mention the voices were completely diferent.

Uchino: Ha. Ha. Ha. (laughs)

Yamada: I was in the dressing room next to Uchino-san, so I could hear his vocal practice. I kept my ear to the wall and thought, “Wow, he’s really good!” I learned a lot from him, thinking how tense he might’ve been. Of course, there must have been a lot of difficulties, but I felt that he really tries to make the whole molding process interesting. I really felt the difference in experience as an actor.

Uchino: You say that, but from my point of view, I feel that you were more immersed than I was.

Yamada: Oh, really?

Uchino: I guess you could say us both were immersed.

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Seiyō Uchino, Photo by iwa

Q: How did you make distinctions in portraying Father and Hohenheim in the Fullmetal Alchemist live-action movies?

Uchino: Father is a man of few words, and he seems to be emotionally detached from the world. You won’t be able to get in such a distinctive character just flipping out right before the scene and said, “You know, yesterday, this was delicious!” (laughs). I am not that dexterous, so unless I had an image of what the character was facing in terms of their demeanor and breathing, it would come out thin and superficial. That’s why I naturally stop talking before acting Father, and I am sure it’s just a matter of naturally being inaccessible.

Q: Any messages you would like to convey to fans of the series?

Yamada: This movie isn’t just a movie. It’s an action masterpiece. Each character is recreated in great quality, and the backgrounds are carefully drawn. I think the coldness, softness, and tenderness of the human characters are brought out by people in flesh and blood. I hope you will follow the big backs of the characters as they walk toward hope.

Uchino: As mentioned before, CG plays a vital part in this movie. As it is a story about a fictional world, bur the depicted issues of peace and war, and racial problems overlap with what is happening in the world today. In that sense, I think it is a fantasy that adults can also enjoy.

As Yamada-kun has mentioned, it is very difficult to transform a two-dimensional manga into a three-dimensional movie, but the charm of this work is that it depicts people living in the world in a very realistic way. I think it is enjoyable in a different way from the original work. There are homunculus, artificial humans, and monsters that can live for hundreds of years, but because of this, I also felt the preciousness of human life, which has a limited life span. I hope you enjoy the love for humanity and the story of hope that Fullmetal Alchemist has to offer.

About Fullmetal Alchemist Live-Action Movies

Fullmetal Alchemist: Final Chapter – The Last Transmutation and Fullmetal Alchemist: Final Chapter – The Avenger Scar is two-part live-action movie adaptation of Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist manga series. Both films premiered a month apart from each other, Avenger Scar premiering on May 20, and Last Transmutation premiering on June 24.
The two films are sequels to sequels to 2017’s Full Metal Alchemist live-action movie.

The story takes place in a world where alchemy is possible. Brothers Edward and Alphonse attempt to use alchemy to bring their mother back from the dead, a deed which is called human transmutation and is highly forbidden within alchemy. The attempt fails, and Alphonse loses his entire body, while Edward loses some parts of his body. Thus, an adventure to retrieve their bodies begins. Two anime adaptations were televised from 2003 to 2004 and 2009 to 2010, and the first live action movie, which was released in 2017, was a massive hit, brining in 1.2 billion yen in ticket sales.

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The original article was written by Kyoko Akayama and published by SPICE, which can be found here: https://spice.eplus.jp/articles/304230


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