Name: Clive Davies
Likes: Books and films
1. How would you describe your hometown? I’m from Llangadog in South Wales. Idyllic. Magical. A great place to grow up. A great place to escape from.
2. What brought you to Japan? My wife. She was my girlfriend in London and I followed her back to Japan in 1999 — an international stalker! I was 19, thinner and cuter in those days, so she married me.
3. You mainly act in saigen dramas. Can you explain what they are? A saigen is a reconstruction drama, shot mainly for variety shows. The reenactment segments are interspersed with genuine footage and/or interviews with the real people sourced from abroad. Then a studio of Japanese TV personalities will talk about what they are watching.
4. What kinds of stories are reenanacted? They’re usually about an unusual crime that was committed. Sometimes they are about a spectacular event, such as Chesley Sullenberger landing the passenger plane on the Hudson River, or the trapped Chilean miners.
5. How did you get your acting break? I bumped into a friend-of-a-friend on a train and registered with a talent agency. The people I met on my first shoot gave me the names of a whole bunch of other agencies, so I signed up with all of them!
6. How many saigen dramas have you appeared in? In a good year, I average a day a week, so about 50 days of work a year. Some saigen shoots last a few days. Hang on, let me check my notes … I have appeared in approximately 163 in total.
7. Do you even have to audition now? Rarely. If you work for a particular crew and prove yourself dependable, you tend to work for the same client again and again.
8. So you often work with the same people? Yup, the same old faces. Although turnover for performers is quite high. A lot of people decide the long hours and tedious downtime is not for them. There are plenty of 24-hour working days
9. What’s the process of a typical shoot? An agency will call to confirm if you are free on such-and-such a date. A couple of days prior to the shoot, you find out whether you got it or not. Then they give you a list of clothes to bring. If it’s a whole-day shoot, we usually meet somewhere in central Tokyo early in the morning, then hop on a bus to our designated location.
10. Are you given a script? We get a script in Japanese that most of the performers can’t read. Since our lines are usually dubbed over in Japanese, we try our best to say something vaguely similar to the original. Actors tend to speak in their own language on set, so you might have a scene in which actors are speaking English, Russian and Persian at the same time. It’s more important to match the length of the voiceover dub.
11. Have you ever played a historical figure? I have portrayed Boy George, lead singer of pop band Culture Club, and serial killer John Wayne Gacy. I had to wear a lot of makeup for both.
12. Ever felt miscast in a role? “Miscast” is my modus operandi! I once played the captain of the Bangladesh Air Force.
13. What’s the hardest shoot you’ve ever done? My very first saigen drama involved swimming about in the sea for two long days in March. The water was freezing! I also did a stunt and jumped off the deck of a battleship.
14. Ever done anything bad on set? Besides crimes against acting? I almost got chucked off a commercial for annoying Orlando Bloom.
15. Do people ever recognize you on the street? Once, in my local Seven-Eleven a member of staff mentioned that she had seen me in a film. She has never mentioned it since.
16. Tell me a little about your book. It’s called “Spinegrinder: The Movies Most Critics Won’t Write About.” It consists of 7,000-plus capsule movie reviews, focusing on horror, sci-fi, kung fu, exploitation, cult and that sort of thing.
17. How long did it take you to write? It took about 15 years, watching about three films a day. Nowadays, working on the second volume, I’m down to about 10 a week, and am more selective. It’s really amazing how much stuff is out there. I’ve probably seen close to 15,000 films or so in my lifetime, and I still feel as if I am only just starting to get my head around the scope of the history of cinema.
18. What are your top three films of all time? It’s impossible to choose just three, but I recommend “Stalker” by Andrei Tarkovsky, “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie” by John Cassavetes and “Nude on the Moon” by Doris Wishman.
19. What are you currently reading? “Flowers of Perversion” — Stephen Thrower’s excellent two-volume look at the career of prolific Spanish sleaze director extraordinaire, Jesus Franco.
20. Who would play you in the biopic of your life? Alexei Sayle or Shota Sometani.