Few outside of Japan may have heard of the beautiful Rinko Kikuchi, but those of us who have already seen Babel, are already raving about the actress’s extraordinary and brave performance as a deaf teenager dealing with your budding sexuality, guilt of your mother’s suicide and the pangs of feeling an outsider in contemporary Japan, in one of the powerful storylines of the powerful film by director Alejandro González Iñárritu, which stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. With the help of a translator, Paul Fischer talked to the actress about this complex and difficult character.
Question: Did you have any concerns in taking on such a very difficult role?
Kikuchi: There was no fear or concern because during the period of one year of this film I built up trust between the cast and the director.
Question: I’m sure a lot has been said about the nudity in the film. What kinds of concerns did you have about playing such a sexual character?
Kikuchi: So my concern was not the nudity itself, my concern was that the most important part of the film to describe her emotionally. So the nudity itself was not my concern.
Question: What were your particular challenges in playing this character and could you identify with her in any way?
Kikuchi: The most challenging part was how to express her emotions through the language or her way of communication because I wasn’t speaking.
Question: So what do you use, what do you use in your acting to be able to convey so much without speaking?
Kikuchi: Everything else like the whole body movement and the expression of the face.
Question: Is this a character that you could identify with?
Kikuchi: I can only look for something in this character that is I can relate to that as a female, to hold on to somebody.
Question: Do you thing this is a realistic portrait of contemporary Japanese youth?
Kikuchi: There are some parts that are those punk young teenagers also those who are regular orthodox teenagers as well and I think it’s the same as any of your country.
Question: Were their any cultural or language problems in doing a film like this with this particular director?
Kikuchi: I didn’t’ have any communication problems because we are built up some trust through the whole process.
Question: Now you’ve been getting a lot of attention I think for this movie, has it opened up any doors for you?
Kikuchi: Because of the publicity of this movie, because it is very international, I have got to meet all these people in various countries and I’ve got to travel to various countries as well in which I usually don’t get this kind of publicity in Japan.
Question: Do you want to work outside of Japan?
Kikuchi: There are many talks outside of Japan but nothing really concrete.
Question: What is you planning on doing next?
Kikuchi: I’m making a comedy film in Japan, but right now I am concentrating on the promotion of Babel.