INTERVIEW WITH: Ryusuke Hamaguchi
FILM: "DRIVE MY CAR"
Q. Congratulations. Can you talk about casting Perry Dizon in the
film? What made you cast him and what made you decide to
choose him as part of a multi-lingual production of Uncle
A. As a Filipino actor, I auditioned him through Zoom. And I
realized that he was the most experienced actor, and he has the
ability to be very flexible. I knew with this production that
we are working with different cultures and there would be
differences, but I thought that I could work with him, and, of
course, I knew he was working with a director I respect very
much, Lav Diaz, and if I can work with him, I'm very happy.
And as a result, I think it ended up being a wonderful film.
Q. I will share my questions, so I will ask you in English. So my
question is simply: Why do you think you could win the Oscars,
especially so DRIVE MY CAR is very unique film in terms of the
language or screenplays and others, so why do you think you can
get a big reputation from our American people?
A. I think at the end of the day, I think it really comes down to
luck. I, of course, watched the other nominated films. They
were all wonderful, so it was a big surprise for me, and I feel
very much lucky to have won.
And, of course, I thank -- I very much thank the Academy
members for seeing something in this film. And I think there
was something about this film that matched with the change and
the times that we are living through, and, of course, the
Coronavirus pandemic and all of the millions of deaths and
losses that it has caused. I think this story about loss and
then also about how to live on after this loss, I think this
story somehow resonated with a lot of people here.
A. Thank you very much.
Q. Two questions. First one about the length of the movie because
a three-hour movie, you know, when people hear it is three
hours, they say, "Oh, my God. What will I do?" But once you
are in it, you can't stop watching it. But were you nervous
about the time and could it have been longer?
And the other question, quickly, is about Chekhov, and how you
translated -- how you used Chekhov and translated to Japanese
to make sense and then to make sense universally?
A. Well, first of all, regarding the length. I think a
three-hour-long movie, 179-minute movie might sound very long,
and I understand how people would think it's very long.
However, living in daily life, I think we all realize that time
can feel short or long depending on what you are doing. Three
hours doesn't always have to feel so long, and I know this as a
film fan myself. And so through these edits and finding a
three-hour-edit version, I felt that this three-hour version
actually felt the shortest. If I had made it shorter, I think,
in fact, it could have felt longer, and I think that's the
result of an edit that is fine-tuned.
Q. (In Japanese.)
A. And so there was already a wonderful Japanese translation of
Chekhov's writing that I used. It was translated by Masaharu
Ura, and I used a lot of the writing that was already
translated, but, again, I was using film actors, and I think I
needed them to not speak so theatrically, so I did make slight
changes to make the language more natural or colloquial
sounding. But what I kept in mind was to always keep that
strength that was already inherent in Chekhov's words.
Q. I just wanted to ask what are the challenges of directing a
A. I didn't know at the beginning whether this was going to work
or not. But what I did think was in my head, I thought that it
would be a good way to draw out good performances because if
the actors do not understand the meanings of the words that
they are performing with, I felt that the actors would really
need to listen and watch carefully in order to perform. And so
that was something I was thinking in my head, and, of course, I
wasn't sure, but then once we were rolling they put on these --
the actors put on a brilliant performance. But I will say the
difficulty was also working with translators, and I am really
grateful to wonderful translators and interpreters that I
Q. Congratulations. As a filmmaker from Japan, your work has been
recognized by the American film world with the Oscar, and your
movie achieved a cross-cultural success. And what does this
mean to you? How did you imagine your audience as you were
making the film?
A. When I am making a film, I'm not necessarily imagining a
general audience. When I'm on set, I, myself, am a film
viewer. I like to watch a lot of films and, therefore, I have
my own standards. And so, in fact, I'm really thinking about
my own personal standards and whether the filmmaking that I'm
doing is meeting those standards, so in other words the
audience is almost myself. But at the same time I think
because this comes out of watching many films, I have to
believe that there's someone out there, there's an audience out
there where this film can deeply resonate with them, and that's
something I have to believe. And I think as a result, it's
been wonderful to see and hear from many people around the