by Chris MaGee
Ever since Rinko Kikuchi's Oscar-nominated performance in Alejandro González Iñárritu's 2006 drama "Babel" the 29-year-old actress has cultivated a kind of hipster "It"-girl persona (above right) in a variety of roles in both Japanese and international productions. The last person you'd expect to see in a jidai-geki drama would be a woman like Kikuchi, but according to a report posted over at Nippon Cinema that's exactly what's happened.
Kikuchi has been cast in the upcoming period drama "Ogawa no Hotori" directed by Tetsuo Shinohara, the man who brought us "Heaven's Bookstore" and "Karaoke Terror". The script is adapted from a story by Shuhei Fujisawa whose work formed the basis for Yoji Yamada's critically acclaimed Samurai Trilogy. Actor Noriyuki Higashiyama will be portraying a samurai who must decide whether to follow a direct order from his lord, an order that would be disastrous to his sister, played by Kikcuhi (above left). This marks Kikuchi's debut in a jidai-geki film.
The cast of "Ogawa no Hotori" is rounded out by Ainosuke Kataoka, Machiko Ono, Chieko Matsubara, Takashi Sasano, Tokuma Nishioka, and Tatsuya Fuji and is slated for release in Japanese theatres in the summer of 2011.