Sho Sakurai Keeps His Cool as Police Detective

In Nippon TV drama “Daibyoin Senkyo” (Captured Hospital), Sho Sakurai takes charge as lead character Saburo Musashi, a police officer. The drama airs at 10 p.m. on Saturdays.

A huge hospital is occupied by an armed group wearing oni demon masks. More than 100 people, including doctors and hospital staff, are taken hostage. Musashi, despite being on leave, confronts them with his innate dynamism and uncovers the truth with his powers of deduction.

Wait, doesn’t this sound familiar? A building is taken over and a police detective sets out to save the hostages, among whom is his own wife. That’s “Die Hard.”

“I was in first grade when I saw it,” said Sakurai. “I couldn’t remember all the details, but the first thing that came to my mind, too, was ‘Die Hard.’ I watched it again, and of course it was great. I love the thrill of it.”

Bruce Willis, who played hot-blooded cop and movie protagonist John McClane, was in his 30s at the time. Sakurai is playing his police officer after having turned 40. He has to tackle action scenes involving guns and one-on-one combat.

“I’m glad I’ve been training since before Arashi went on hiatus at the end of 2020,” Sakurai said. “If I hadn’t been, I don’t know if I would have accepted the offer.” He says he has upped his morning gym routine from twice a week to five or six times a week.

In addition to the intelligence he has shown in his 15 years on air as a news anchor, his new role requires a cool demeanor.

“I don’t understand myself that well, but I sometimes think I’m the type of person who grows more objective when people around me panic. I suddenly get cool headed,” he said. “I do want to stay cool.”

Sakurai was born in Tokyo on Jan. 25, 1982. He joined Johnny & Associates in his second year of junior high school, and became a member of the boy band Arashi in 1999, which released its debut single the same year. In addition to appearing in movies, dramas and commercials, he has also been active as a newscaster and emcee, among other jobs.

As an actor, he has assumed many roles, including a nursery school teacher, a private detective and a school principal.

Asked what role he would like to play next, he said: “I don’t have one. I’m not in a position to choose. Or rather, I’m not selective.” The answer was surprising.

“This is the case not only for acting, but also applies to a writing job I was offered a few years ago. People come up with this or that thing they think it would be interesting to have me do, and I jump into a new challenge I may have thought impossible. In this way, my possibilities grow. Choosing on my own would narrow my possibilities.”

He accepts, ponders and makes the act his own. Such flexibility is yet another weapon in his arsenal.

Quick questions for Sho Sakurai

The Yomiuri Shimbun: The story is about a group of people wearing creepy demon masks. Do you scare easily?

Sakurai: I think I’m a chicken. I don’t like haunted houses, and even though I never sense anything supernatural, I don’t like haunted places or scary stories.

Yomiuri: At the end of last year, you hosted the “Kohaku Uta Gassen” (NHK’s Red & White Year-end Song Festival), which is a very strenuous job. How do you unwind?

Sakurai: By taking a bath after training at the gym. Taking a bath forces me to have no smartphone for about 15 minutes. I like to have some time just to space out.