Rinko Kikuchi might be best known for her role as the mute school girl in Babel directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Nominated for an Oscar, she’s gone on to numerous projects including Brothers Bloom and is in 47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves and yet another project currently filming with Guillermo Del Toro. Her role in Tran Anh Hung directed adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood is far from a tender character as she’s cast as Naoko, a person who’s mentally ill, plagued by her own demons. Kikuchi currently lives in New York City and we caught up with her during her Norwegian Wood promotions. Her English is coming along as well as her acting roles.
GR: Can you tell me about your experience of reading Norwegian Wood?
RK: When I read the book, I was the same age as Naoko, so I fell in love with Naoko’s character and ten years later, I got this role. Now I understand her better than when I first read the book.
GR: When I read some books when I was younger and then I re-read it again at a different time it felt a lot different. How did you see that? Did it change a little bit when you read it one more time before the movie?
RK: Yea, when I made this film, I learned everything has an end. Naoko and Kizuki wanted to keep their beautiful memory so they committed suicide. They were scared to open the other door, you know? That’s why I think this book is really beautiful, poetic and fragile. So I got a new experience of the book after making the film.
GR: I know that the character is kind of a difficult one and I was reading how you had to get into that character. How do you do that?
RK: I read the book over and over again, and I asked Naoko questions and tried to get the right answers from her. Right at the beginning of the shoot, the answers and questions melded, so finally I could do that the role, but every specific hint from the novel mattered.
It wasn’t easy to pick the 10 winners of the tickets for two to see Norwegian Wood. There were 60+ entries for the ten spots. They were picked by me based on whatever criteria I felt at the moment. There isn’t a “if I write more, I have a better chance” system. It could be how I felt at that moment and your short poetic words caught me off guard, maybe that’s how I picked. If you didn’t get in, please try again during our next giveaway. Some of your words were too generic, in a “let me in” type of way, but if you offered just a little more, you were in the running. Here’s my picks. (I left the editing part out, some probably wrote from their smart phones and some carefully crafted their words)
The 100% Perfect Girl
I’m a huge Haruki Murakami fan. I have his more recent books but unfortunately haven’t read Norwegian Wood. I loved 1Q84. I just found out about this movie a week ago and was stoked. I’d love to attend and already know “the 100% perfect girl” who would be my date, as she’s a big fan too!
-Greg, you are the dark horse, there are fans of all of his books, fans of the filmmaker, and fans of the actors who aren’t getting in, but this “100% perfect girl” is intriguing. If there’s such a thing for you and you know who she is, I’m picking you just on that merit, so hurry and ask her.
oh, let me count the ways…
it was the first murakami book i read almost 20 years ago. and i read it in a tiny, tiny city in southeastern japan, so that made it even more special. i lived a long time in japan, and his books kept me grand company as the still do today. in fact, i just re-read norwegian wood about a month ago and it’s still a lovely little tome to me.
i’m very excited to see this movie, especially because rinko kikuchi is in it.
flipping love her!
ALSO, i speak/read/write japanese, am a member of the Japan Society here in new york, and have always loved me some Giant Robot.
so in closing:
PICK ME! PICK ME! PICK ME!
-Jennifer, Yes, we love her too. I doubt she loves us back the same. The GR plug, a great move. Have a great time.