Rinko Kikuchi Interview For Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Pacific Rim’
When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju.
On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes – a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi) – who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse. Set for a July 12th 2D, 3D and IMAX release, ‘Pacific Rim’ also stars Idris Elba, Rob Kazinsky, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, Max Martini, Clifton Collins, Jr., Burn Gorman, Larry Joe Campbell, Diego Klattenhoff, and Brad William Henke. Oscar nominee Guillermo del Toro directed the sci-fi action adventure from a script he co-wrote with Travis Beacham.
I can imagine that one of the major appeals of ‘Pacific Rim’ was getting to work with Guillermo del Toro? What did you pick up from him on set – he seems so excitable?
Rinko Kikuchi: Yes (laughs). When I gave a good performance, Guillermo would always get so happy and that would make me want to work harder. He’s such a loving person. There’s no director like Guillermo. I love him and I just want to make him happy, you know? He’d always being going, “Rinko that’s fantastic! This is awesome!” And that made me want to work harder (laughs). Guillermo’s a true artist. I knew if he was directing a monster movie, it was not going to be just a monster movie but something more. It’s going to be something special. Being part of this film is a dream come true. I’d love to work with him again, and soon!
Mako is a young woman who shows tremendous promise as a Jaeger pilot, although she has been held back by forces without and within….
Rinko Kikuchi: Yeah, I love Mako. Mako’s a young Japanese woman who has wanted to be a Jaeger pilot ever since her parents were killed in an Kaiju attack when she was a child. And that attack traumatized her. She is battling monsters and her own demons. She has something to prove to herself and to Pentecost, who is her hero and her mentor. He taught her everything she knows, but he still thinks she is too traumatized to join the fight. He wants to protect her and keep her out of harm’s way. But Mako wants to be the best and she wants to overcome her trauma.
How was it acting opposite Idris Elba as Pentecost? And then also, what was it like having Charlie Hunnam as a partner in the film? I understand you two trained for months before the shoot….
Rinko Kikuchi: Yeah. Idris is so versatile. Also, he would try many different ways to draw my emotions out from me – and it worked! I loved working with Idris. Everyone one was super nice. Charlie is the best partner to work with, ever (laughs). I actually couldn’t have done this movie without him, because he was looking out for me, making sure I was OK – because it was really challenging to move around in the cockpit of the Jaegers and do the physical scenes. Our suits were very heavy. Guillermo made the suits very real and very heavy, because our performance would be more real. It made it feel like a real fight. Before shooting we spent almost four months training on the martial arts. And during that time it gave us time to build up our relationship, so I think it was also really beneficial for the shooting, you know?
When you were filming the scenes in the battle suit, how did you stay focused? I understand you’d be filming for hours at a time?
Rinko Kikuchi: Some scenes we were attached to the control of the Robot and then there would be sparks and water for hours, and with that sometimes I’d lose my concentration. But, Guillermo would sing the theme from ‘Totoro’ in Japanese – he’s such a sweet and loving person, and that would help (laughs). Also, Charlie would always look out for me and make sure if I was OK. I loved the team; everyone pulled together. I had a love/hate relationship with the suit. It was very physically and emotionally demanding. I just had to think about happy things, like chocolate (laughs).
The movie takes huge inspiration from Japan, have your family back home seen it yet?
Rinko Kikuchi: Not yet. Growing up in Japan I grew up with a lot of monster movies and robot movies, I’ve been watching them since I was a kid. So being a part of this movie has been a dream come true. I can’t wait for my family to see this movie, that will be fun (laughs). I’m so excited for them to see it and they’re also so excited!
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