EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Exclusive Interview #27

  • from "NAOMI & KANAKO"
  • Ryoko Hirosue

Ryoko Hirosue and Yuki Uchida star as the main lead roles in the gripping suspenseful drama series NAOMI & KANAKO. Japanese public saw them transform from a sweet, teenage pop idol to a classy, fabulous actress in high-rating television shows and award-winning films. In NAOMI & KANAKO, they take on new roles which are quite different from cheerful, sweet characters they are mostly known for. In this interview, the first of a two-part series with the drama's protagonists, we asked Ryoko Hirosue to tell us about the story, the characters, as well as her experience on set.

Q

What were your impressions after reading the original novel by Hideaki Okuda, then reading the drama script?

A

Mystery drama filled with suspense and thrill would surely be compelling and riveting. But considering this series is targeted mainly at a female audience, the producer, the director and I have all agreed on the point that we didn't want the focus of the story to be too much on violence or put too much emphasis on the shocking elements. We made sure to convey the story in a way that portrays the characters and plot in a deep and meaningful way. Adding to this, we also decided to often include casual conversation between Naomi and Kanako and bits and pieces of their memories from college days in order to make the story appear more relatable.

Q

Naomi ends up committing a crime in order to save her best friend. How do you feel about Naomi and Kanako's decision?

A

The fact that they committed a murder is not something I can justify in any way, obviously. But when you are driven into a corner and trapped in the dark, I think it's important for us as human to try to find a way out in order to attain happiness. And (when you are in that very situation,) it's very fortunate if there were someone who is willing to reach out and lend you a hand. I'd be grateful if viewers would first feel that there's a chance that this type of situation could happen to them and feel sympathy towards Naomi and Kanako, then gradually start to cheer them on. This drama is very different from the ones I worked in in the past, but I'm optimistic that it would turn out the way we intended.

Q

Is there anything that you keep in mind in acting the role of Naomi?

A

In contrast to Kanako who is very soft-spoken and gentle-hearted, I first had an impression of Naomi to be someone who is self-driven, career-oriented "Ms. Perfect" type of individual. But now, I think that it would make her more real and relatable as a character if she has some flaws or makes mistakes. The producer was saying that Naomi may appear to be the tougher one of the pair in the beginning, but in fact, Kanako becomes the one to take the lead as the story progresses. Her desperate situation gives her the strength to push things through to the end at the risk of her life.

Q

From Yo Yoshida, Ryuta Sato to Atsuko Takahata, the supporting cast members are all outstanding actors and actresses. Could you tell us what it's like working with them and give a message to viewers of the show?

A

Ryuta Sato is indeed a very charming, likable person, but he does an excellent job in acting the role of verbally and physically abusive husband Tatsuro. Atsuko Takahata is superb in her acting and brings the very unique character of Ms. Lee to life. I think she's the only one who can act and fit the character so perfectly. Then, there's Yo Yoshida who plays the role of Tatsuro's sister Yoko. I think she's such a powerful actress who can handle any type of role. I hope that viewers will enjoy watching the intense, psychological battle between Yoko, Naomi, and Kanako as the story unfolds towards its climax.