In our previous ‘Background Actors who became Tokusatsu Heroes’ article, we have looked at some of the small time actors who ended up in the Super Sentai franchise.
In this second part of the list, we will look at former small time actors who were eventually chosen to put on the signature transformation belt from the Kamen Rider franchise.
#1 Seto Koji 瀬戸康史
Before he became the eponymous dhampir protagonist in Kamen Rider Kiva, Seto Koji was already an established talent under Watanabe Entertainment’s popular boys troupe, D-Boys. He had roles in J-dramas such as Rocket Boys, Happy Boys and Abarenbo Mama until he finally got to wear the transformation belt in 2008. His fellow Kiva Riders, Kato Keisuke (Kamen Rider IXA) and Takeda Kouhei (Kamen Rider IXA/Kamen Rider Dark Kiva), were also background actors prior to the series. Seto and Takeda have since maintained their acting career.
#2 Kiriyama Renn 桐山漣
He likes to think of himself as a hard-boiled detective, but right before he met his other half in Kamen Rider W, Kiriyama Renn had roles in a few J-dramas: Tadashii Ouji no Tsukurikata, Tokyo Ghost Trip, Shibatora and Reset. He eventually enjoyed a stable acting career after he hang up the transformation belt, occasionally reprising his role for movie specials.
#3 Fukushi Sota 福士蒼太
Before he was a space mania, before he was known as Japan’s most popular heart throb, before he got the chance to be paired with many prominent actresses across Japan, Fukushi Sota started his acting career humbly alongside Suzuki Katsuhiro (Red Buster) in the high school drama, Misaki Number One!! His fellow Fourze Rider, Yoshizawa Ryo (Kamen Rider Meteor), was also a background actor. Both have since become more active in the acting industry.
#4 Sano Gaku 佐野岳
ORANGE! Sano Gaku was just a background student in Great Teacher Onizuka 2012, spending his time as a background student alongside other Tokusatsu actors such as Yamada Yuki (GokaiBlue) and Shiono Akihisa (KyoyuGreen). His fellow Kamen Rider Gaim co-stars, Takasugi Mahiro (Kamen Rider Ryugen) and Kobayashi Yutaka (Kamen Rider Baton), were also background actors.
#5 Takeuchi Ryoma 竹内涼真
While it seems as if Kamen Rider Drive is Takeuchi Ryoma’s debut work, he has apparently appeared in a mini-drama entitled Kurumaya no Hitobito. With the finale of Drive drawing close, what is installed for Takeuchi in his future acting career? His fellow co-stars, Inaba Yu (Kamen Rider Mach) and Katoono Taikou (Mashin Chaser/Kamen Rider Chaser), were also background actors.
Due to a difficulty of fitting every single of them in the form of a Top 5 list, other examples that weren’t listed are Mizushima Hiro (Kamen Rider Kabuto), Watanabe Shu (Kamen Rider OOO) and Shiraishi Shunya (Kamen Rider Wizard). It was really a tough challenge, but I’ll just leave it as it is.
And there you have it, a list of background actors who became Kamen Riders. I’ve also discovered that most background actors audition for the roles in Kamen Rider rather than for Super Sentai, hence I had to stick to listing them series by series.
Next up, we will look at Ultraman actors in Part 3 of “Background Actors who became Tokusatsu Heroes” (hopefully I can get five actors to list), so stay tuned!