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■ Both of the main cast were planning to cast newcomers
――A live-action adaptation of a popular comic. Was there anything you were conscious of when distributing the theme of Maiko, a traditional Japanese culture, to the world?
Kore-eda: To be honest, it’s a worldwide distribution, so nothing will change. As a director, if it’s a movie, a drama, or a distribution, it doesn’t change the direction. It’s the same with writing scripts. I simply wanted to write the serial drama that I want to write the most right now.
――I heard that both Mori and Deguchi went through an audition, but what was the reason for your selection?
Kore-eda: At first, I thought it would be better if both of the main cast were newcomers. But I heard from various acquaintances of the staff, “Nana Mori is amazing, she’s really good,” so I asked her to participate in the audition. I felt sorry that I had to participate in the audition with newcomers, but the rumors were true, and after many auditions, I came to think that Mr. Mori was the only one.
――Mori-san was decided first.
Kore-eda: Yes. From there, I made selections from the perspective of combining with Mr. Mori. From the first time I met Mr. Deguchi, I thought that he was a person who was innocent and honest, and when I was with him, I became cheerful. However, since the play was unknown, I did not limit myself to the role of Sumire at first, but explored the possibilities of various roles. When we saw the combination of Mori-san, Deguchi-san, and the drama’s original character Ryoko, Ayatsu Makita, all the staff said, “This triangle is the only one.” It is the flow that I asked Mr. Deguchi for Sumire.
――In the end, you decided on balance. How was Mr. Deguchi’s play, which seemed to be an unknown quantity?
Kore-eda: It may sound presumptuous to put it this way, but the growth of Sumire and the growth of actress Natsuki Deguchi are linked. . I think it was a meeting at a very important time.
――I think you’ve heard about Director Kore-eda’s evaluation, but how did the two of you decide to join the Kore-eda team?
Mori: Kore-eda’s work, and the girl in the middle of the story. When she took the audition, she thought, “I don’t want to fail.” I was scared. But when I actually met Director Kore-eda, he didn’t put any pressure on me like a “master”, and he was a very calm person, so my anxiety eased. It felt like she was watching over me very freely, and it was a very comfortable and exciting time during the shoot.
Deguchi: Of course, I’ve seen the film, but until now I’ve honestly never been conscious of the director when I watched the work, so I didn’t know Director Kore-eda’s face… Only at the time of the audition did I participate without any particular information, so I was wondering, “Who is the director? Probably in the middle.” There was an uncle who was taking pictures, and I wondered who this person was… (laughs).
Kore-eda: That was me (laughs).
Deguchi: Yes (laughs).
Mori: Is the person sitting in the middle a young woman?
Mori: Did you think the director was a woman?
Exit: Yes. I really went to the audition without any information (laughs).
Through the story, I was able to grow along with the character
――The two of you were close friends who have been together since childhood. What kind of relationship did you create?
Mori: Both of you are shy, aren’t you? The first time we met was at an audition, but we didn’t really talk at that time.
Mori Nanana (C) ORICON NewS inc.
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Deguchi: During the reading, we would glance at each other, but even then we didn’t talk much.
Mori: After the filming began, I gradually realized that it was actually easy to talk to him, and the distance between us suddenly closed. After all, the more you play, the more trust you will have, so I thought that the scene was important.
Deguchi: My impression of Mr. Mori before and after shooting was completely different. I was nervous because I have been in a lot of works and have a lot of experience, but when I entered the scene, I was able to open up at once because I really don’t decorate it. There is also a feeling that the person named “Natsuki Deguchi” is seen through, and just by changing one expression on her face, she says, “What happened?”
Natsuki Deguchi (C) ORICON NewS inc.
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Mori: But it’s very easy to understand (laughs). The obi of the kimono is tightened quite tightly, so it’s hard to shoot for a long time, but when you get tired, you’ll know right away (laughs). Director Kore-eda also said this, but he really is a child who doesn’t lie. I didn’t mind either, and I think we got along very well!
――How do you approach each role?
Mori: It was very difficult. It goes without saying that Kiyo-chan is loved by those around her, not only for her cooking behavior, but also for the way she stands in the kitchen without saying much, the way she looks at people, and the food she serves. I have to get it. But Director Kore-eda and the staff created a very warm atmosphere, so I was able to gradually become Kiyo-chan.
Deguchi: Sumire was a role that grew through the story, so I thought about how to bring out that change. Through the work, I think I was able to grow along with the role. Even when I watched it myself, I felt that the facial expression changed between episode 1 and the end, so I want you to pay attention to it.
■ The hardest part was deciding what to choose from the dishes in the original work.
――In the movie, the food that Kiyo makes looks really delicious. Were there any dishes that particularly appealed to you?
Mori: I ate most of the dishes that appeared in the drama. When it cuts, I immediately go to the back and eat, and when it starts again, I rush back (laughs).
Kore-eda: It was mostly me and Mr. Mori who were eating behind the scenes after the haircut (laughs).
Mori: That’s right (laughs). All of them are really delicious, but I like rice balls the most. The onigiri made by (food stylist) Nami Iijima has a taste that no one else can make. It’s different from the brilliance of white rice, so I definitely want you to watch it in the drama.
Deguchi: I always say oyakodon. Actually, I had never eaten oyakodon until this shoot. I didn’t like eating it at all, but when I went to see Nana-chan, who was practicing cooking, she ate oyakodon and was surprised at how delicious it was. My only regret is that I couldn’t eat Mr. Iijima’s tempura!
Kore-eda: The hardest thing for me was deciding what to choose from the dishes that appear in the original work. They all look really delicious. If I’m in the mood right now, it’s just boiled eggplant. A very important dish in the story. Food that moves people’s hearts is wonderful, isn’t it?
Director Hirokazu Kore-eda, Netflix drama “Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san” (C) ORICON NewS inc.
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――The distribution is finally starting, but please leave a message at the end.
Mori: This story is about cooking, but it’s full of various elements such as Japanese traditions, friendship, love, and family stories. It’s a work that looks like a bento box full of side dishes, and after watching it, I’m sure it’s a drama that will leave something warm in your heart, so I’d be happy if you could watch it.
Interview and text: Masakazu Isobe
Photo by Mitsutu Yamazaki
Hair and makeup: Ai Miyamoto (yosine.) (Nana Mori), Tomoe Nakayama (Natsuki Deguchi)
Stylist: Hiromi Saruya (Nana Mori), Shohei Kashima (W) (Natsuki Deguchi)
★ Official YouTube channel “ORICON NEWS”