In this exclusive interview, The Tokusatsu Network talks to Tom Constantine about his role as John in Kamen Rider Geats as well as his work on Power Rangers Dino Fury.
In 2021, you left The Tokusatsu Network to focus on your work. Can you comment a little more on your feelings on leaving the website you helped found?
I could not abide and watch the site I helped create turn into a fascist totalitarian regime. (lol)
Honestly I became so busy that I wasn’t really able to help in any meaningful way anymore. That and TokuNet became so big and established that it didn’t need me anymore. We have our own small community of contributors and we all talk every day, so I’m glad I get to keep the social aspect!
Also, it’s pretty weird being interviewed by the site I helped found.
How did you start with toksuatsu?
Like everyone in my age bracket, I started with the original Power Rangers, but fell off as I grew older. I’d always loved superheroes and grew up on Spider-Man comics and cartoons. It wasn’t until I turned 18 and working late shifts in a pub and coming home after midnight, Fox Kids would show two hours of Power Rangers from Lost Galaxy onwards. Was a good way to catch up on everything I missed over the years!
The first Kamen Rider I watched was 555, but I didn’t realize it was a superhero show, so when Kiba transforms into an Orphnoch at the end of the episode, it was a shock to say the least!
How did you get started in Japan?
I came to Japan in 2014 with a one year working holiday visa with zero plan and no intention to continue living here for eight years. Having been fairly active in the fandom for a few years, I already knew people in Tokyo that helped me get settled in and that I could hang out with. This lead me to being on the set of a movie directed by Koichi Sakamoto, a man who I had been a big fan of from Power Rangers, Kamen Rider, Ultraman, you name it. I was nervous to even talk to him, but as I was the only foreigner on set, he came up and introduced himself in English to which I replied, “Yeah, I know.”
Well, it worked out in the end at least! He gave me my first stunt job, and I’ve appeared in a number of his projects ever since!
He was super friendly and talkative. I became friends with one of the stuntmen and randomly one day he posted on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to train in the park, and it all kinda started there. I’d always loved action movies, but being who I was, I never thought I’d be able to do anything like that.
After that, I made a point to go training with the different stunt and action teams around Tokyo, gaining as much experience as I could. Now I’ve helped set up Rival Stunts, Japan’s only foreigner stunt team and because our members have been in the industry for a while, we get contacted for jobs very often.
You were recently working on set for Power Rangers Dino Fury. What kind of work did you do on set, and what was it like being involved in a Power Rangers production?
I went over to New Zealand as part of the Japanese stunt team and to help with translating. It was an amazing experience with a fantastic cast and crew and I got to play some fantastic characters on the show too! You can only see my face in episode 17 with the scene of the Gold Ranger on the beach. We pretended it was a sunny day but it was actually freezing cold!
We were all really delighted that fans quickly held the show in high regard right from the get go! It made everyone want to work just that much harder to exceed those expectations.
How did you get cast as John on Kamen Rider Geats?
I was contacted by Toei directly as I had just worked on Good Morning, Sleeping Lion starring Seiji Takaiwa and other Kamen Rider actors for Hikari TV. They were looking for a foreigner that could act and perform their own stunts, and I fit the image they had. Initially, I was told it was only for episodes 1 & 2, but at the costume fitting they told me, “We look forward to working with you for the next year.” I tried (unsuccessfully) to hide my excitement! Though all the heads of department, including producer Takebe and the director were there as well as the toys for the show, and I can’t lie, I played with them like a child on Christmas morning.
What was it like going on set for the first time for Kamen Rider Geats?
The shift between being a stuntie on set to an actor was a big change for me. Aside from people treating you differently on set, the pressure weighing on you is quite dissimilar. I struggle with anxiety quite heavily, so I always feel pressure, which sometimes causes me to have issues with my lines in Japanese. Thankfully rehearsals help, and the cast and crew are always accommodating.
Speaking of the cast, Yuna (Hoshino), who plays Neon, is such a sweet girl, and upon meeting her, I instantly had the same feelings as John of wanting to protect her, so that helped with the role. I’m twice her age, so I’m old enough to be her much older and goofy brother (although reluctantly her father).
Any notably fun and/or funny stories from the set you can share?
Filming the episode with me dressed as a woman was fun. I went for a fitting that I mistakenly assumed was for the DGP gamer uniform but was actually for a dress. That’s what I get for being presumptuous. Silver lining: I got to pick my outfit and hair; I tried to be like Betty Draper from Mad Men. I have mad respect for high heels wearers. I could barely take a few steps in them and had to run.
I was a tad nervous to do it on set in front of other people, but as soon as I got in costume, I decided to walk out on set and get it over with – basically pulling on that bandaid. There were like 30+ extras in the scene too, just my luck. Shooting the whole scene was hilarious though. We would laugh every time cut was called.
If you look at when I walk into the scene, I’m holding a guy’s hand, who then tries to readjust my hair and I slap it away because the wig would fall off. I like to think that John’s disguise was that good (or so he thought) that he committed to the role, went on a date with a man to stay undercover, all to secure Neon. The fact I’m nearly a foot taller with giant shoulders wouldn’t have been a tip off.
You and Michael K (who plays Ben, the other bodyguard in Geats) caught the attention of many fans not only in Japan but around the world, especially after episode 14. How does it feel knowing so many eyes are on you?
That was as a shock to me as it was to the viewers! I first found out when I picked up my script at Toei offices and was flicking through the pages in the elevator. I went and hid in an alley with no one around and read as fast as I could. (lol)
Obviously we were both excited, and we knew that fans would certainly get a kick out of it, but we didn’t quite expect just how big of a reaction we’d get it. I had my IRL friends telling me they had even heard about it. Not just the foreign fanbase either, Japanese fans really took to us as well, and I saw lots of comments saying we looked like a Hollywood movie. (lol)
I am incredibly grateful to the response and it only makes me want to work that much harder.
How did you come up with your transformation for episode 14?
Michael and I had discussed ahead of time what our poses would be like, so on the day of filming in the morning, we practised together and adjusted them so our timing was in sync. Then we showed Koichi Sakamoto, the director of the episode, and he gave us some feedback and what you see in the episode is what we ended up with.
Out of John and Ben, John is the more goofy one whilst Ben is more serious, and although we switch occasionally, we made a point to always have one playing the other. But when they get their memories back, their regular personalities are almost switched. Ben is the happy-go-lucky one and you can see that in his dance-inspired transformation (Michael is also a trained dancer). John on the other hand is much more serious and I based his transformation on early Heisei Rider (specifically Agito/Faiz/Blade).
I actually suggested we do the scene in the office without our sunglasses, now that our eyes can actually see the truth. Plus seeing Ben and John without them at the start of the scene would forewarn viewers that something is a bit off until the reveal a minute later.
Where do you want the script to take John and Ben in the future?
Who knows, huh? I can only say that I’m excited to find out!
What other recent productions might people find you in?
I recently appeared in Kenshi Yonezu’s “Kick Back” music video, the theme song for the Chainsaw Man anime. It has something like 50 million views on YouTube and that has caught the attention of a lot of people!
(NOTE: You can see Tom starting from the 2:50 mark in the video.)
How can people keep up with you and your work?
I’m not the most active person on social media, but I do post updates on my Twitter! Please give it a follow, and also check out my stunt team, Rival Stunts!
Kamen Rider Geats is the fourth entry in the Reiwa era of Kamen Rider series following Kamen Rider Revice. In this series, various people enter the Desire Grand Prix, a game where the players compete as Kamen Riders and the winner will receive a chance to recreate the world to their liking.