|This article is about a/an actor in Kamen Rider Black and Kamen Rider Black RX.|
Tetsuo Kurata (倉田 てつを Kurata Tetsuo) is a Japanese television, stage and film actor and administrator, best known for portraying Kohtaro Minami, the main character in the tokusatsu television series Kamen Rider Black and its sequel, Kamen Rider Black RX. At the age of 19 he made his acting debut in Black, and has since appeared in many other television series and Japanese doramas. His birth name is Tetsuo Takayama (高山 哲夫 Takayama Tetsuo).
As Kamen Rider Black and Kamen Rider Black RX, Tetsuo Kurata has the distinction of being the only actor to be the star of two shows in the Kamen Rider Series. This was highlighted in his return to the franchise in Kamen Rider Decade (2009), with the mythology of that particular series (that of a multiverse containing realities home to alternate versions of past Kamen Riders) allowing him to appear as both his Black and Black RX incarnations at the same time. The alternate RX appeared first appeared in episode 26, Black × Black RX, then joining forces with the A.R. Black in the next, Black × Black RX. That same year, he had a cameo as the original Kotaro Minami, untransformed from Black RX, in the movie, Kamen Rider Decade: All Riders vs. Dai-Shocker.
The youngest actor to be cast as a Rider at the time, Kurata was notably the first leading Rider actor in the Kamen Rider Series to have started playing the role while under the age of 20, paving the way for under-20 actors such as Kento Handa, Koji Seto, Masahiro Inoue, Sota Fukushi, and Shun Nishime to be cast as the lead in Heisei Kamen Rider Series.
Kurata auditioned for the role of Kotaro Minami in January 1987, when he had just graduated from high school. In a 2006 interview, Kurata had stated that, during the audition, he hadn't been able to portray the character appropriately, and did not think he would get the role. To his surprise, he was chosen by Shotaro Ishinomori himself to play the lead role, beating some 8,000 other contestants. During this period, Kurata underwent intense training that included stage combat techniques, physical exercise sessions and acting and singing lessons.
On October 4, 1987, Kamen Rider Black premiered on TBS to public and critical acclaim. The success of the series, which ran for 51 episodes, generated enough interest from Toei Company executives to persuade them to produce a sequel, something unprecedented in the Kamen Rider Series franchise. After finishing his work on Black, Kurata was approached by Toei and renewed his contract for one more year in exchange for a salary raise to work on Black's sequel, Kamen Rider Black RX. This second series was less successful than its predecessor due to its witty and comical style, which differed deeply from the shadowy, darker tone of the original. In a 1989 magazine interview, Kurata said he preferred Black over Black RX, quoting the comedy from the latter as "excessive". It is rumored that Kurata declined later invitations to reprise his role as Kotaro in fear of being typecasted, but such rumors were never confirmed.
Following the end of Black RX, Kurata has appeared in various television series and doramas as supporting characters. He has apparently been out of the public spotlight after taking a hiatus from the entertainment industry, but came back to voice Kotaro Minami/Kamen Rider Black in Kamen Rider: Seigi No Keifu, as well as appearing in Battle of the Cooking Iron (Ore Gohan), pitting himself against Takayuki Tsubaki, known for his role as the title character of Kamen Rider Blade.
Away from the world of entertainment, Kurata owns a steakhouse called Billy the Kid in Kōtō, Tokyo. He also acts from time to time in TV dramas and stage plays in his spare time.
- Kamen Rider Black (1987) - Kotaro Minami/Kamen Rider Black
- Kamen Rider Black RX (1988) - Kotaro Minami/Kamen Rider Black RX
- Ranpo Edogawa: The Dark Light (1990)
- Kimi no Na Wa (1991)
- Men Who Fight (1992) - Syoji Matuoka
- Nogaremono Orin (2007) - Take Hazime
- Kamen Rider Decade (2009) - Kotaro Minami (RX)/Kamen Rider Black RX, Kotaro Minami (Black)/Kamen Rider Black
- Kamen Rider Decade: All Riders vs. Dai-Shocker (2009 Toei) - Kotaro Minami/Kamen Rider Black RX (cameo)
- Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3 (2015)
(1987) Kamen Rider Black
- Kamen Rider Black Opening Theme
- Ore no Seishun 1st Movie Closing Theme
(1988) Kamen Rider Black RX
- Kuroi Yuusha Insert Theme
- He is the only actor to reprise his Kamen Rider Black & Black RX role from the original series in Kamen Rider Decade.