Two of the baseball players-turned-actors in the Taiwanese film Kano on Monday said that playing the roles had been challenging, but that the experience had renewed their love for the sport.
“I was a left-handed batter, but I had to be right-handed in the film,” said Chen Chin-hung (陳勁宏), who portrayed late power hitter Su Cheng-sheng (蘇正生) of the Kagi Agriculture and Forestry Public School baseball team — abbreviated to “Kano” in Japanese.
“In addition, when I went to bat, the ball had to go in a specific direction, so seeing as it is already difficult enough to hit the ball, the pressure was pretty intense,” the 20-year-old said.
Tsao Yu-ning (曹佑寧), who played late pitching legend Wu Ming-chieh (吳明捷) in the film, said one of the challenges he had to tackle was undergoing special training so he could accurately portray the sharp eyes that his character possessed.
“The training was necessary because my eyes tend to wander,” the 19-year-old said.
Many of the people cast as members of the baseball team were first-time actors, but all are baseball players with at least five years of training in the sport. They have shot to fame over the past few weeks as the film continues to soar at the box office.
As of yesterday, the predominantly Japanese-language film has grossed close to NT$150 million (US$4.94 million) in Taiwan.
Set in 1931, when the nation was a colony of Japan, Kano tells the true story of an underdog baseball team from southern Taiwan.
It chronicles the rigorous training the players underwent as they prepared to travel to Japan for the Koshien, the most prestigious high-school baseball tourney in the country at that time, and their incredible run in the tournament against all odds.
Although acting was an unforgettable experience, the film’s stars said they want to focus on their studies and on baseball in the future.
“I like acting and playing baseball, but I hope to focus on the latter in the future. I have dreamed of being a professional ball player since I was a child,” said Tsao, who is currently a center fielder for a university team.
Chen, an outfielder in real life, said acting in the movie made him “fall in love with baseball again.”
He said the greatest pleasure of playing the sport is “working hard in a team to achieve a common goal,” while the greatest satisfaction comes from seeing a team “make a comeback.”