SINGAPORE - The mere act of Sho Sakurai helping his co-star up on stage after a gala movie screening at the Marina Bay Sands Theatre last Saturday night drew wild screams and cheers from his adoring fans.
Account manager Paulin Chua, 28, was among the 500 or so of his fans who won tickets to the world premiere of The After-Dinner Mysteries. The screening was attended by 1,600 guests. Sakurai, of top Japanese idol boyband Arashi (meaning storm in Japanese), is being "true to form as the butler" he plays in the movie, says Ms Chua, an Arashi fan of two years.
Sakurai, who plays Kageyama, butler to heiress-detective Reiko Hosho (Keiko Kitagawa) in the movie, had held out his hand to his co-star as she went up on stage after the screening.
Says Ms Chua: "They have chemistry on-screen and off-screen. He's still so gentlemanly. He gives off an aloof vibe, but the fact is he's friendly and charming."
While appreciating his fans, Sakurai, 31, says during a question-and-answer session after the movie screening that sometimes anonymity is fine.
"The last time I was here for filming, I went to Little India to get chicken rice alone and the two girls at my table didn't recognise me," he says, replying through a translator, with a smile. Read: He had a meal in peace.
He and the cast and crew of The After-Dinner Mysteries were in Singapore in June and July last year for filming.
At a brief meet-the-media session last Saturday afternoon, Kitagawa and Sakurai say their two-year working relationship is what makes for smooth chemistry on-screen, and no off-set bonding is necessary.
Gamine Kitagawa, 27, whose acting breakthrough came as Sailor Mars in the live action series of Sailor Moon, adds: "We have the same roles for two years, so there's the familiarity."
In the movie, the pair are reprising their roles from a popular television series, Solve The Mystery After Dinner.
The 10-episode TV series aired on Fuji Television in 2011.
They play conglomerate-heiress and detective Reiko and her butler Kageyama who are on a leisurely cruise on Princess Reiko (Superstar Virgo) when they are thrust into a murder mystery after a passenger is shot and thrown overboard.
The pair, along with Reiko's annoying boss (Kippei Shiina), who happens to be on board, must solve the mystery - including interviewing 3,000 passengers and crew - before the ship docks at Singapore, and the murderer escapes ashore.
Both the television series and the movie sequel are based on a best-selling Japanese mystery novel.
As the movie was almost exclusively filmed on Superstar Virgo and in Singapore, at locations such as Raffles Hotel and the waters in front of Marina Bay Sands, it was natural to hold the world premiere here, says director Masato Hijikata.
"Since the movie was based here, we want Singapore audiences to have the first look at it," says Hijikata, 56.
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