By some freak of genetics that I don’t pretend to understand, I have been blessed with everyman-like features, and over the years a disproportionately large number of people have told me that I look like someone they know, or someone famous. For example, a friend of mine once went up to someone on the tube and, convinced that it was me, said, ‘Hi, Muzuhashi!’ only to be treated with a blank look and a ‘Who’s Muzuhashi?’ in reply, and in my days as a sound recordist, there was supposedly a doppelganger doing the same job, even though, like Superman and Clark Kent, we were never seen in the same room together.
In the interests of national security and for the safety of my family and friends, I have yet to post a photograph of myself on this blog. But while my true identity shall remain a closely guarded secret, I thought that now might be a good time to give you at least an inkling of the face behind the enigma.
For example, when I was much younger and still had hair, Ronan Keating was a prime suspect.
As I got older and my hair got thinner, it was Keifer Sutherland.
And then Kevin Costner.
Of course, the irony is that now I’m in Japan, rather than being an everyman, I stick out like a left-winger in the Labour Party, and the only Japanese name ever to have been mentioned in the same breath is that of TV presenter Tokoro George.
Closer to the mark is Arjen Robben, a Dutch international who plays his club football for Bayern Munich, and whom countless junior high school students have ‘mistaken’ me for.
Facial features, it has to be said, don’t necessarily come into the comparison, so what these students are really thinking as they pass me in the corridor and shout ‘Robben!’ is ‘You’re a balding white man!’
In much the same way, balding white men – myself included – are often likened to Bruce Willis.
Despite the shining pate, however, Willis is facially even less reminiscent of me than Robben, so for a more likely lookalike, we need to consult some non-Japanese.
A good friend of mine insists that I’m a dead spit for Gary Barlow, which is very nice of him, so long as I choose to overlook the fact that what he’s basically saying is ‘You look like the ugly one out of Take That’.
Someone once came up to me in a pub and said that I looked like Tim Roth, which is fairly credible.
While a different person once came up to me in a different pub and told me that I looked like Ben Stiller, which is frankly tenuous.
Both witnesses may well have been drunk at the time, and where Roth looks a bit too mean and moody, Stiller looks a bit too sarky and smirky. Ben Miller, on the other hand, is in the right ballpark.
Another friend suggested Rob Brydon, who I like to think is a little on the craggy side for comparisons, although I have to admit that I’m veering into craggy territory myself these days (and by that I don’t mean Snowdonia).
You can imagine my confusion, then, when Miller and Brydon appeared together on QI, and even went so far as to kiss each other on screen, a moment that for me was reminiscent of the bit in Being John Malcovich where John Malcovich enters the portal into his own brain.
The same friend who compared me to Miller saw a Surf Crew billboard at a London bus stop, and claimed that he had to take a closer look just to make sure that I wasn’t doing swimwear modelling on the side.
While the face may be similar, though, the body is a dead giveaway: I do of course look much better than this with my shirt off.
The best suggestion so far – so good, in fact, that it’s genuinely spooky – is Christopher Timothy, who apart from a slightly different nose could quite easily be my long-lost identical twin brother.
Although rather like the Superman / Clark Kent combination, I have yet to be filmed sticking my hand up a cow’s backside – not that I’m aware of, anyway.
A final disclaimer: while I do in some aspects resemble many of the gentlemen depicted here, I should of course emphasise the fact that I’m not even remotely as handsome or debonair as any of them. The closest I’ve ever come to that is by having my voice likened – by Japanese as well as Brits – to Hugh Grant’s.
But let’s face it, if I looked like Hugh Grant as well as sounding like him, I wouldn’t be an English teaching assistant, I’d be…well, I’d be at least a deputy headmaster.