interview with actress anna tsuchiya
“When everything was over, I had mixed feelings. Part of me was like, 'Now I can take a break!', but another part was like, 'Now I have to say good bye to Ichigo? Really?'” Anna Tsuchiya
Q: Is it true that you shed tears when the movie wrapped? Did you develop any special feelings for this movie?
Yes, I did…During this shoot, I was living every day as Ichigo, not as myself, Anna Tsuchiya. I usually don't act and speak like Ichigo, but we have a lot in common on the inside. So she almost became part of my life, to the point where it was sad to be away from her.
During the days when I was living as Ichigo, I was very emotionally connected to her in the scenes where she feels painful or faces an internal struggle, like trying to be strong despite her internal weakness. When everything was over, I had mixed feelings. Part of me was like, “Now I can take a break!”, but another part was like, “Now I have to say good bye to Ichigo? Really?”
The shoot didn't feel very hard, but I was relieved when it was over. Even after the shoot, I was acting like Ichigo at home and my mom was mad at me, saying “Mind your language!” (Laugh) I really enjoyed doing Ichigo.
I also enjoyed communicating with people on the set, like helping the lighting department or other crew. We got so close and went eat noodles together after the shoot. (Laugh) It was awesome! It was like being close to our crew just as a person, not as actress Anna Tsuchiya. I didn't want to feel like I was “at work,” ‘cause it's tiring; I hate that. I didn't want to be alone in the room just waiting for the next setup, so I preferred helping people on the set.
Q: Like holding a reflector or something?
A reflector?…I only helped carry it…Oh! I just remembered I did help hold it once! (Laugh)
Q: For this first film of your career, did you study any movies, books or comics for your characterization?
No. The director gave me something to read, but I didn't look at it.
Q: What did he give you?
Magazines and videos dealing with Yanki. I didn't look at them at all because I was afraid that I would be thinking “I should be like these guys” after seeing them…instead I tried to look for what I thought Yanki should be like.
Well…actually, I tried to watch the video once, but it showed Yanki girls shouting at pretty high tones of their voices, and instantly I knew that I was not able to do what I saw in that video (Laugh)…so I decided to go with a low, threatening tone.
If I pursued something like a rule to act “Yanki,” I thought it would narrow the character. Yanki become Yanki to be free, right? So I thought I should do my Yanki freely.
The basic attitudes of Yanki, I think, are trying to show off their toughness and setting up barriers to hide their mind. So based on that, I did what I felt like doing as a Yanki.
Q: Did you improvise as well?
Sure, like in the scenes where I sit with Momoko at Cafe Forest of Aristocrats and say “What is ‘Forest of Aristocrats’?”, and where I stick a straw into my nose and all that…(Laugh)!
Q: Are they all improvisations?
Yeah, the director just told me to do something funny, so actually I did a lot more! (Laugh)
Q: Like what?
Like…when I used a cigarette instead of the straw…or made an ugly face…or threw up the juice…(Big laugh)…which was not used, though…(Laugh). I tried different things. I was trying to act like “I really want to be friends with Momoko!” just like a kid. “Look at me! Look at me! Be mad at me playing silly!” And Kyoko said “Stop it!,” showing no expression…(Laugh), and I was like “Sorry”… like I do as usual.
Q: 'As usual'? Do you naturally enjoy entertaining people around you?
I do! I am not necessarily trying to make them laugh, but if they do, I am happy.
Q: How about your relationship with Kyoko Fukada?
We talked like friends. Sometimes she came to talk to me, and sometimes she was just like Momoko, not saying “Hmm…” even when I talked a lot to her, and I was like “You're so cold!” (Laugh).
Q: So it was almost like communication between Momoko and Ichigo?
Pretty much. That's why we became close.
Q: I heard that you were willing to do many takes until you got what you wanted. That’s amazing.
I don't like to have any regrets. I never give up until I make it. Same with anything…like when I was surfing the other day. I could do well, but I didn't stop challenging myself until I could make it. I have been always like that. I don't want to lose to myself. But on the shoot, the director might say 'OK' even when my performance wasn't good enough for myself, and that frustrated me a lot.
Q: Did you feel like you lost?
Yes, I did. Even when the director said ‘OK,’ I insisted on continuing if I didn't feel OK about my performance. Like in the scene where I had to cry, I couldn't cry at first and he was like “OK, do you want to use eye drops?”…I got so frustrated I said (with tears) “No, I won't!” (Laugh).
Q: After the shoot ended, did you have any feelings that Ichigo was still with you?
Yeah, maybe, feeling like she says to me “Girls must not cry in front of anybody” to me…(Laugh).
Q: Do you hear the lines in your own voice?
Yes, sometimes I hear the lines or even say the lines. Especially when I fight, I can't help saying something like Ichigo says, even to my parents…(Laugh) and my mom gets mad and says “You are not Ichigo!” (Laugh).
Q: Ichigo still dwells in you…
Yes, especially her words. I spoke her words for a month and a half, so…
Q: Do you have any message to your fans?
This movie is very entertaining as a story, and not only that, it has a great message, lots of colors, good sense and words, and everything is deep. So it looks different to each person and everyone can identify with the characters, which is a wonderful thing. Please enjoy!
To learn more about Yanki, check out our culture essay, "Live fast, Die Young: Life as a Yanki".
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The 26th Yokohama Film Festival (2005)
The 28th Japan Academy Prize (2005)
Best New Actress:
Mainichi Film Awards (2004)
Kinema Junpo Awards (2004)
Best New Actress:
Houchi Film Award (Dec 22, 2004)
Best New Actress: