EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Exclusive Interview #33

  • from "Natsuko Kira"
  • Nanako Matsushima

Undoubtedly one of Japan's leading actresses today, Nanako Matsushima has played various diverse roles in many hit TV dramas and films. The beautiful talented actress is now playing the leading role in Fuji TV's new drama series "Natsuko Kira" as ta 42-year-old working mother with a 3-year-old son who struggles to juggle family and career. Nanako herself is also a mother with two daughters. In this interview, we asked her to share her first impressions about the drama and how she feels about playing the role of working mom.

Q

This is your first time in three years to star as the main lead in a drama series. How did you feel when you received the offer?

A

I didn't really think about how it's been three years. One of the advantages of serial dramas is that a story evolves over the course of a series with each episode, so I'm looking forward to playing my role of Natsuko Kira and seeing how she tackles problems and overcoming challenges as the story unfolds.

Q

What did you think when you first read the script written by Yumiko Inoue?

A

The story of "Natsuko Kira" deals with the life and struggles of a working mom. While reading the script, there were many things that made me think—for example, feeling pressure from the company and also putting pressure on herself. I've only read the script for the first episode so far, but I'm very much looking forward to seeing how the story develops from here.

Q

Are there any lines that left a strong impression?

A

In the scene where Natsuko comes home a little drunk after having a hard day at work and gets into a quarrel with her husband, she says to him "Good for you that when men do some housework, they can proudly say that they 'helped out.'" Also, in the aspect of work, it would be "I hate to lose." I think this line exactly represents her personality, so I want to keep that line in mind as I play her role.

Q

What's your impression on Natsuko?

A

I think Natsuko has gained her confidence and pride through building her career as a successful creative director. She had many staff working under her, and it was a part of her job to express her opinion loud and clear. I hope to show her as a tough, confident woman through my acting.

Q

Is there anyone who you look to in developing your character as a female manager?

A

It's hard to find someone like that around me. Natsuko's position as a female manager in a major company is far from my own experience and I don't know anything about it, so I'm hoping to learn what it's like to be in such position and how these women actually manage to handle both career and family. I'm personally interested in finding out these things, so I'm looking forward to reading scripts for future episodes.

Q

How about for your role as mother?

A

Natsuko's character setting is that she'd devoted herself to work to build her career, then got married and became pregnant before she reached 40. The timing for when to have a baby varies from person to person, and I think raising a child in your twenties and in your forties would be a different experience because of your maturity in knowledge and real life experience. In that respect, I'm close to her age, so I think I feel more at ease in playing her role.

Q

Is there anything you have in common or you can relate to with your character?

A

I can relate to Natsuko in scenes where she leaves her son to go to work and feeling guilty and torn as she says goodbye. She can't show her son that she's nervous or worried, so she has to force herself to keep a smile on her face. I feel exactly the same way with my children, so I think my true self sort of comes through in these scenes without really thinking how I should act.

Q

It seems like Konosuke Takahashi who plays Natsuko's son Sota likes you very much and gets along with you really well.

A

Kotaro just turned 4 years old. He's so innocent and adorable, but very clever and bright too. He's so friendly and likes to play with everyone, so I very much enjoy being around him.

Q

What's your impression on Ryuhei Matsuda who plays Keisuke Takagi, Natsuko's former assistant.

A

He has this extreme calmness like a shoebill and carries certain aura around himself. Natsuko and Keisuke are like water and oil—they are completely opposite, yet when they are tasked to work on the same project, they work together beautifully. I think it's gonna be very interesting to see how their "cat-and-dog" relationship will develop as the story progresses.

Q

How about on Taizo Harada who plays Natsuko's understanding husband Kotaro?

A

I think he fits the image of a "gentle, understanding husband" perfectly. Since Natsuko is the kind of person who frankly speaks her mind, I think Kotaro must be the type of guy who can accept and love her with all of his great big heart.

Q

Lastly, could you give out a message to the viewers?

A

From boss-subordinate relationships at work, raising your child, to dealing with a mother-in-law, this drama is filled with story elements that are relatable to anyone. You may get a bit annoyed by Natsuko sometimes since she's so outspoken and opinionated (laughs), but as she faces and overcomes challenges, she starts to change mentally and emotionally as well. I hope that women who have returned to work after maternity leave and also those who are thinking about it in their future would relate to the story. Please tune in and enjoy the show!