The Australian (Australia)

In 2000, to help promote the Australian Monkey video / DVD release, Masaaki Sakai did an interview for The Australian in Australia.

The interview is reproduced here with the kind permission of its author, Kerrie Murphy.
This article was first published in The Australian newspaper in Australia.

Do you think the English dubbed version does justice to your acting?
I have never in fact seen an episode of the English dubbed version and even if I did my English is not good enough to understand what they are saying. I have heard from someone that the English version is not translated straight into English, but parts of the script have been changed to make it more funny. I think that is one of the reasons that the show has been so popular.

How popular was Monkey in Japan?
It was very popular in Japan.

Is Monkey still popular in Japan or are you better known for other work like the cooking show or your work in The Spiders?
I am now best known as a presenter. We have a programme in Japan that is the equivalent of the Grammy Awards that is held in the United States; I have been chosen to present the show for many years. Monkey is hardly known by anybody under the age of thirty now.

You seem to pop up in a variety of capacities: actor, cook, musician, and TV show host. What do you prefer doing?
I enjoy most appearing on stage.

How did you get the role of Monkey?
Three years beforehand I was in a stage play of Monkey and I had a hit with a song called "Monkey Dance". I suppose I was perfect for the role.

Were you typecast after Monkey?
I was not typecast as such. I am the kind of actor who the audience knows beforehand will make them laugh.

Do you receive much fan mail from Australian fans?
I have only received two letters up till now, the reason being that nobody knows where to send it. Also maybe the fans are not sure if I can understand English or not.

Why do you think Monkey is still so popular twenty-two years on?
I think that one cannot make the same kind of analog type show now so that this is the reason for its popularity now.

How much martial arts training had you done prior to Monkey?
I have never been trained in martial arts. I was trained only for stunts by a stunt trainer.

How much work was involved in choreographing fights?
It did not take much time. I have always been able to learn things very quickly. If it takes ten days for someone to learn something it would take me maybe a day or so.

Did you do your own stunts?
Yes I did most of them.

How familiar were you with the stories and religious ideas that Monkey was based on when you were cast as Monkey?
Monkey is based on an old Chinese story that every Japanese person knows about. Also, I was in a play of Monkey as I mentioned beforehand so I was well versed in the story.

What's your favourite episode?
I have none. I love them all.

Most of the fans of Monkey I know of are in their mid twenties. Who was the show originally aimed at?
It was made for family viewing.

Would you like to see a remake of the show using more modern computer generated effects, or is the show's old special effects part of its appeal?
If it was I would like it to be made using today’s special effects.

For more information about the Monkey video / DVD release in Australia / New Zealand, check out the Monkey Videos / DVDs (Australia / New Zealand) page.

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