Kaori Momoi

Kaori Momoi talks about her new film, director Takashi Miike and much more.

Kaori Momoi has gone Western. The Japanese actress has had a successful career in Japanese films throughout the years, but her presence has been seen in some American studio films like Memoirs of a Geisha. The actress can most recently be seen in Takashi Miike's homage to the spaghetti Western, Sukiyaki Western Django, which comes to the DVD and Blu-ray shelves on November 11. I recently conducted an email interview with Momoi and here's what she had to say.

How did you first come aboard this project initially and what drew you to this script by Takashi Miike and Masa Nakamura?

Kaori Momoi: Upon hearing that Miike was working on writing a role for me, I decided to cancel all my other work and join this project. I believe that both Miike and Nakamura are courageous filmmakers who are never just 'content' with their work and always keep moving forward toward a new direction. I would love to continuously work together with them , and I truly respect their humble but liberal attitudes as artists.

This is a very exotic blend of East meets West it seems, Kurosawa meets Sergio Leone. Were you both fans of the Western genre and did you draw on any Western influences when preparing for your roles?

Kaori Momoi: I didn't have any interest in the Western genre- maybe because I am a girl. But I watched all of Clint Eastwood's films to prepare for my role in Sukiyaki Western Django. I feel that Eastwood's films have a sense of justice akin to the Japanese Samurai spirit. Since Miike told me that his intention was not to copy the Western style, but to make a new 'sukiyaki' western, I tried to concentrate on acting the role accordingly. Regardless of country and race, I believe he created a 'Miike' world, which continuously stimulates cineastes around the globe.

You had worked with Miike before this film, and you have directed a film yourself. What sorts of influence has Miike had on your own filmmaking through working with him?

Kaori Momoi: I mentioned earlier about Miike: he continuously changes his styles and makes a brand new 'Miike' film each time. His flexibility and liberal intellect are indeed pop. I'm in love with his unique and excellent taste. He always inspires me to be a courageous artist like himself.

You also star alongside celebrated filmmaker Quentin Tarantino here. How was he like to work with here and do you have a favorite Tarantino story from the set?

Kaori Momoi: It may sound funny, but my impression about Tarantino is really pure. He was like a little boy who innocently admired Miike, and he completely had a great time at the shootings as an actor. I am also a big fan of his, and was very happy that he was sincerely and seriously working with us at the shootings. I'm a big fan of Tarantino as a director, but at the same time, I fell in love with him as an actor.

Did Quentin perhaps try to recruit you for future films of his as well?

Kaori Momoi: I forced him to promise to recruit me when he needs a not too-young Japanese actress. I also said to him that I can play the role of a man, if it's an Asian!

For years now it seems that Hollywood has been content to just remake films from the East, but with this film getting a theatrical release, do you think we might see more films from Japan or Hong Kong making it overseas like this film?

Kaori Momoi: I have always thought that some Japanese films should be made in English so that the work of Japanese creators would be better known in the world. I believe that Miike has contributed a lot in that sense, by writing a script in English. I strongly hope to work together with various people from different countries, and hope that this film will be viewed by broad audiences all over the world.

Is there anything you can tell us about future projects?

Kaori Momoi: I will start shooting my second film next year as a director, and I'm so occupied with all the preparations for that right now. I will work on making the last project of recently deceased Japanese filmmaker, Jun Ichikawa, into movie. Utilizing the strengths of everyone around me, I'm determined to create a courageous film and embark on a new journey.

Finally, the film received a small theatrical release but now, with the DVD release, it can finally seen by a widespread audience. For those who didn't get to see it in the theater, what would you like to tell Western fans or Japanese film fans to entice them into picking this up on DVD?

Kaori Momoi: I think everyone should have a slice of Miike within arm's reach, so having the DVD would be nice, but I also think it would be great if the film, Sukiyaki Western Django can be viewed on the big screen. I hope you enjoy watching it fill every single corner of the screen. This is truly a MOVIE!

You can see all the East-meets-West action with Momoi and the rest of the cast of Sukiyaki Western Django when it hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray on November 11.