Rinko Kikuchi

It would seem like we have a Japanese theme this month as we pick Rinko Kikuchi as our babe of the month. If you’ve seen Pacific Rim then you’ll have seen her in action and you’d agree that she’s one heck of a woman.

Rinko Kikuchi is the first Japanese actress to be nominated for an Academy Award in 50 years, for the 2006 movie Babel. She also starred in Guillermo del Toro’s science fiction action film Pacific Rim.

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Early Career

Kikuchi debuted in 1999 under her birth name, Yuriko Kikuchi, with the Kaneto Shindo–directed film Ikitai. Soon after, in 2001, she starred in the celebrated Kazuyoshi Komuri–directed film Sora no Ana, which was featured at several international film festivals, including the Rotterdam Film Festival. In 2004, she appeared in the much-commended Katsuhito Ishii–directed film Cha no Aji, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2006, she was cast by Japanese film producer Yoko Narahashi in the Alejandro González Iñárritu film Babel, where she played Chieko Wataya, a deaf-mute teenage girl, in a role for which she received international attention and was nominated for numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

She won several, such as the National Board of Review Award for Best Breakthrough Female Performance (tying with Jennifer Hudson) and the Gotham Award for Best Breakthrough. Kikuchi is also the fifth actress in Academy Award history to be nominated for an award for a role in which she does not speak a word. (The others were Jane Wyman, Patty Duke, Holly Hunter, and Samantha Morton.) Kikuchi has appeared in two Mamoru Oshii movies: 2008’s The Sky Crawlers and Assault Girls (2009).

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She starred in Rian Johnson’s second film, 2009’s The Brothers Bloom, which was her first fully English-language feature. Though she plays a main character, she only speaks three words in the film; her character is said to only know three words of English.

I’m looking forward to seeing her in 47 Ronin which also stars Keanu Reeves.  The film is the first English-language adaptation of the Chushingura legend, Japan’s most famous tale of samurai loyalty and revenge.

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Catch Rinko Kikuchi in Pacific Rim, in cinemas now

Images courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures Singapore

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