It was really tough to make the Japanese public perceive me as a serious actor or director. As an actor, one of the first films I worked on was Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence by Nagisa Oshima, back in the early '80s. When it was released in Japan, I sneaked into the theater to see how the audience would react. I thought the film was great and my acting was not bad at all. I anticipated that the audience would be impressed by my performance, which was completely different from my comedy persona on TV shows. However, at the moment I appeared on the screen, every single person in the theater burst out laughing. I was devastated and humiliated by the experience, because the character I played in the film was not the kind of person to be laughed at. I swore then and there that I would stick to the serious and dark characters in any films or TV dramas thereafter, and I did. And it took years of playing dark characters, serial killers, and cult gurus for Beat Takeshi to be perceived as a serious actor.