Keita Machida is All Dressed Up

The Japanese actor is now a Friend of Tod’s. We track the rise of the unassuming thespian
 Esquire SG
Published: 4 October 2023
Jacket, sweater and sunglasses, TOD’S

When it comes to profiling an actor like Keita Machida—to talk about how he got here, there’s no better place to start than, well, at the beginning.

In 1990, the Machidas welcomed baby Keita into the world. Little Keita grew up in a household filled with three generations of Machidas. As the only son, he was doted on (he has two sisters).

“I lived my early life running around in the woods,” Machida said. “I grew up with kendo (which is the Japanese martial art of swordfighting), baseball, swimming and many other sports.”

Jacket and sweater, TOD’S

He was a precocious child, a bundle of energy that needed an outlet, and he found release in sports. Motion would be a constant theme in his life. How his body—a machine of blood, bone and flesh—could engage in the science of movement.

After passing the Dai 3kai Gekidan Exile audition, Machida became one of its members. That same year, he kickstarted his acting career on the stage in Rokudenashi Blues.

It was a rather circuitous journey to becoming an actor. “I think I was ultimately led down the acting path. If there wasn’t an opportunity, I would have forged a career on my own.”

When he’s not acting, Machida plays sandlot baseball and trains at the gym. He has also recently taken up golf. “I haven’t played video games for a while but before that, I used to play a lot of the Final Fantasy series and Ghost of Tsushima.”

Jacket, sweater, trousers and belt, TOD’S

Like many others, acting jobs slowed to a stop for Machida during the pandemic. With the country’s borders closed and being stuck indoors, Machida could return to the familiar source of comfort: watching TV programmes and films. “I watched movies and dramas incessantly,” Machida said. “It reminded me of the importance and happiness of the industry that I am in—creating works that people can consume and be entertained by. As a public figure, it’s important to feel gratitude for this and I want to perform as soon as it is possible.”

A youth spent glued to the screen (both big and small) seeded a desire to become an actor. Again, this might be how Machida is fascinated about what his body can do in the face of limitations. In this case, allowing himself to inhabit a character unlike his own.

From dramas to manga adaptations, in his 13-odd years of acting, Machida has amassed a massive portfolio. Regardless of the genre, he is attracted to multi-dimensional roles. To him, each role possesses its own unique difficulty.

One of the bigger productions that he has been involved in was Netflix’s Alice in Borderland. When asked about other manga adaptations that he wants to be part of, Machida said, “I know it’s difficult, both in terms of my age and the greatness of the original work, but I always wanted to play Mitsui from Slam Dunk. I’m always captivated by the charm of the character.

Overshirt, sweater, trousers, belt and shoes, TOD’S

“In adapting an original work, I try to reflect the image of the original work as much as possible,” Machida said. In playing Karube in Alice in Borderland, Machida tapped on his character’s penchant for patterned shirts and chain necklaces. “Fashion is a very important tool of expression because it can be effective in bringing out a character’s inner self and personality.”

So what does it say about Machida’s own place in the fashion scene?

You can’t box Machida into a particular taste. It’s ever-evolving as he constantly gets fresh exposure to many different styles. He relies on his stylist Ishikawa Eiji for sartorial counsel.

“I’m always indebted to Ishikawa as he teaches me about the world of fashion.”

It’s paying off. Last year, Machida was appointed as a Friend of the Italian fashion house Tod’s. He didn’t think that Tod’s would approach him for the campaign. “I’ve always been interested in the brand but it inhabits a glamorous world in which I never thought I could be included.” But since his appointment, he likened it to an expedition to the museum: “I’m completely intrigued by it all.”

Jacket, shirt, sweater and trousers, TOD’S

If there is a fashion accessory that he’s excited about it would be his Tod’s shoes. “I feel it’s important to have a good pair of shoes. The beautiful quality and comfort are wonderful,” Machida said, excitement hanging over every syllable. “Tod’s shoes give me confidence and are the key to any outfit.”

It’s a perfect summary. In the end, wherever you are, as long as you’re comfortable, that is a good place to be.

Photography: Chee Wei
Creative Direction and Styling: Izwan Abdullah
Hair and Makeup: Kohey
On-set Stylist: Eiji Ishikawa at TableRockStudio

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