Koji Yakusho: Michio Hayasaki
Hiromi Nagasaku: Yuka Nagai
Dankan: Medicom Industry employee
Eisuke Suzuki:Takashi Nagai
Akira Emoto: Murakami
Michio Hayasaki is an excellent engineer for a medical instrument manufacturing company. For years he has
been working very hard, by day and night, trying to develop a wheel-chair robot which could assist persons
with general paralysis, but in vain. The completion of this type of robot is really anticipated by company
executives, seeing that ten years ago, Hayasaki invented a special tonometer for measuring blood pressure,
which became a big hit and brought a great deal of profit to the company.
As a matter of fact, Hayasaki is tormented by stress. Then, one night at home, he gets frightened on finding his
own 'double' standing in front of him! Hayasaki understands that he is his 'doppelganger', and is reminded of
the saying that anybody who has seen their own double is destined to die soon.
Despite Hayasaki's concerns, his doppelganger starts behaving in astonishing ways. The first action he does is
to destroy his laboratory. He is very sympathetic towards Hayasaki's agony and tries to do every possible
action to relieve him of various types of stress and let him succeed in finishing the robot. He therefore seduces
Hayasaki's assistant colleague, Takano (Hitomi Sato); kills a man to rob him and provide Hayasaki with
money for study fees; and even brings Hayasaki the latest data for robots.
Hayasaki's doppelganger then kills the doppelganger of the younger brother of a certain woman, Yuka Nagai
(Hiroki Nagasku), one of Takano's friends. Yuka one day becomes stunned to find her brother, Takashi
(Eisuke Suzuki) in his room soon after the police have informed her of Takashi's suicide. Obviously it was
Takashi's doppelganger that has come home. To relieve Yuka's fears and worries, Hayasaki's doppelganger
beats Takashi to death by hitting him on the head and buries him on the sea shore, and reports to her that
Takashi's doppelganger has gone to America.
Meanwhile. Hayasaki gets laid off, as he was naturally seen as responsible for destroying his own laboratory,
but his doppelganger finds Hayasaki a new laboratory, which used to be a factory. He even employs a new
assistant, Kimijima (Yusuke Santamaria) for Hayasaki. Yuka then duly decides to become Hayasaki's new
assistant. It seems that she feels that she has been freed from Takashi's doppelganger, after hearing the news
that Takashi's doppelganger is now in the United States.
In cooperation with Hayasaki's doppelganger, Kimijima and Yuka, the robot is duly been completed. Now
confronting his doppelganger concerning leadership over the robot, Hayasaki kills him together with
Kimijima, discarding his body in a hole under the factory floors. Hayasaki, Kimijima and Yuka head for
Nigata to sell the robot at a big company in a van.
This is merely one third of the story....
Koji Yakusho's remarks about "Doppelganger"
Koji Yakusho fans have been waiting to see "Doppelganger", especially for the reason that Yakusho plays two
roles, the hero and his double, whose character traits seem to be totally at variance with one another.
Here are some extracts from Koji Yakusho's remarks (about his acting and about Kurosawa) taken from a
long talk between Koyoshi Kurosawa and Koji Yakusho concerning "Doppelganger" that was published in the
September issue of the monthly art magazine, named "CUT".
Asked about his first thoughts on hearing that he was to play twin roles in the new film, namely the hero and
his doppelganger, Yakusho replied:
"At first I was afraid that the audience might complain that they became fed up with my face; I actually had
that sort of fear and uneasiness. But on second thoughts, I felt that it was challenging for an actor to have to
play two different characters with the same face and body. Therefore, I thought that I would do my best, since
I had been given such a chance."
Commenting on Kurosawa's scenarios:
"The most interesting point about his scenarios is that actors can enjoy guessing the director's true intentions
which lie hidden behind words or directions. The characteristics about his scenarios are that there are some
sudden gaps about stories or character changes. But if I think that this is a dream, then everything can go
well. I came to realize this at the filming of "Charisma": I became convinced that in the dream, nothing
could be contradictory. When I noticed this, I acquired the secret that I was able to talk with a real sense in
scenes where character-change has occurred."
"Doppelganger" is such an amusing film that I have seen it four times so far.
What has impelled me go to see the film so many times is Koji Yakusho's truly superb performance in acting
the two roles, Hayasaki and his doppelganger.
Both of them wear the same clothes, but the way they look, talk and behave are surprisingly different.
Viewers can enjoy the two quite different aspects of Koji Yakusho on the same screen. Indeed, Yakusho's
joke that he felt that he should be getting paid double sounds convincing!
One of Yakusho's magazine interviews about this film was really fascinating. In the interview, he stressed
that although he was rather sympathetic to Hayasaki while he was reading the senario of this film, yet once
the filming started, he was surprised to come aware that he was attracted more by Hayasaki's doppelganger:
Yakusho found Hayasaki's other self more honest to himself, in fact rather a good man, who deserved
respect. " I feel that this is the first time that my view and appreciation of my film role have changed in the
course of acting", says Yakusho.
I'd like to ask a question to those who have seen "Doppelganger". Is the person Yakusho plays at the last
scene Hayasaki or his doppelganger? I would say that I became quite puzzled to see Hayasaki with a queer
metal pad on his nose when he suddenly appeared in a car to give a ride to Yuka toward the end of the story,
because by that time Hayasaki and his doppelganger have both been dead; Hayasaki's doppelganger was
killed by Hayasaki and Hayasaki was run over by Kimijima's lorry.
Amazingly, director Kurosawa discloses that the person was meant to be Hayasaki's doppelganger!
Kurosawa confesses that a scene was actually filmed where Hayasaki's doppelganger saw Hayasaki dying, but
that at the very last moment of editing, he determined to cut that crucial scene, thinking that he would rather
leave the decision to the viewers. He added that "After all, it is Yakusho Koji who plays the role! "
Kurosawa also discloses a fact that it was Yakusho's strong suggestion that Hayasaki's doppelganger should
put on the nose pad, adding that he couldn't resist Yakusho's keen attitude. I'm glad to know that
Kurosawa has accepted Yakusho's proposal, for Yakusho with the nose pad appears very mysterious!
I would rather like to think that Hayasaki's other self has come alive both to fulfil Hayasaki's wish to take
the chair robot to Niigata prefecture and moreover to fulfil Hayasaki's promise to Yuka while they were
chasing Kimijima's lorry that he would be sure to come back to her.
--- November 9, 2003 ---
Created on November 9, 2003
Updated on January 12, 2008