The Grudge 2 is currently shooting at the famous Toho Studios in Tokyo, Japan. In the days to come, look for our interviews with the actors and the film's famous director, Takashi Shimizu.
The first actor we get to talk to (through a translator) is Takako Fuji, the actress who plays the creepy, quadruple-jointed ghost, Kayako. Dressed in a long, dark charcoal black wool coat, black slacks, and black spike heeled ankle boots, the fresh-faced actress is stylish, yet casual. She is pretty, and all smiles… just before she films a scene in which Kayako kills a major character.
Q: How many times have you played Kayako?
This is the sixth time I’ve played her in a movie. It’s difficult sometimes to keep up the motivation, because I’ve played her so many times.
Q: Is there anything different you get to do, in this movie?
There are two different things that stand out as special scenes for me to play this time. There is one scene with the mirror that the reflection… The reflection with Kayako in the mirror will do something very surprising. The second scene takes place in the photographer’s dark room, where she’s actually in the water. This is something she has never done before. The scene hasn’t been shot yet, so I’m really looking forward to that.
Q: How long does the makeup take?
Q: Has the makeup process changed, from the original films?
Actually, the time is shortened now. I am very happy about that.
Q: You have a background in ballet; did that help you in portraying Kayako’s unusual moving style?
I did ballet from the time I was four until I was about 11. I wasn’t a great ballet dancer or anything, but it does help with the movements of Kayako.
Q: Who came up with Kayako’s moving style?
Q: Kayako has flashbacks in some of the movies, showing her as she was when she was alive, and then of course dead – which one do you prefer playing?
It’s more fun to play Kayako after she’s dead. [laughs] Because you expect Kayako to be scary and ghostly and the only way to be that way is after she’s died.
Q: She is very scary!
Q: There have been a lot of imitators – how do you feel about that?
I think I am happy that people are mimicking me.
Q: Have you met any of the other actresses who’ve played similar ghostly characters?
No, I haven’t. But the there are some great actresses I really admire.
Q: Why do you think this type of ghost story has endured for so long? Why are they so popular lately?
I feel that some of the reasons are because typical American ghosts are zombies and demons and stuff like that, but when it comes to the Japanese ghosts it’s more like a grudge. People’s feelings are into it. I think that’s something new to America. I think that’s maybe what makes it scary.
Q: What’s the difference in making an American version as opposed to a completely Japanese production of the same type of movie?
The Hollywood remake obviously is a bigger production. We were able to build the sets and everything, where we can do more stuff. So in contrary [probably meant: contrast] to Japanese production, we have to use existing houses and we are not allowed to use different equipment and stuff, so we have to use whatever is available to us. But still, it was fun to do [smaller productions] as a team, so both ways are fun.
Q: Is the plot for The Grudge 2 a little fresher for you? It’s not a remake, right?
Very, very fresh. The script is well well-written. I have to do my best as an actresses.
Q: Will you keep on playing the role as long as Shimizu-san wants you to?
Q: There’s a new Toshio [Kayako's dead 10-yrar-old son] this time around. What’s it like working with the new actor?
The new Toshio is really young, and so everything is new to him. He’s trying really hard. He’s doing the best he can.
Q: Does this role affect you more mentally, or physically?
I’m exhausted both ways!
Q: What kind of fan reaction do you get?
They are usually scared of me! [laughs] So I try to be even more scary!
Q: Do you ever do the freaky moves at parties or anything?
Q: Now that you’ve made so many movies with Shimizu-san, how has your relationship evolved?
I am not a very talkative person, and he isn’t either, so it used to be that we never really talked to each other. But we do share the same goals, and so just recently we started chatting [laughs]. It took me 7 years! We are both [shy].
Q: Do you believe in ghosts?
I have always believed in ghosts.
Q: What’s the most personally satisfying things about being involved in the Grudge film series?
The best thing is sharing this with the people I work with.
Q: Why is the woman in white such a strong visual presence in Japanese cinema?
I believe it’s because of our black hair. If we’re in white clothes it shows up and makes it more scary.
Q: Have you ever seen any of the Grudge movies with an audience?
[laughs] Yes. I was very happy to see the people get scared where they’re supposed to get scared.
Q: Have you ever been recognized in the street, just walking around?
Q: What scares you?
Fire. Fire scares me. It really excites me, or something.
Q: Was it difficult to shoot the fire scenes in Grudge?
Yeah, I was scared.
Q: How do you act on the set when you’re in full makeup? Do you keep to yourself and stay in character?
[laughs] I’m quite myself. I talk, I smoke cigarettes. Everybody thinks Kayako smoking a cigarettes is so funny.
Q: Would you consider doing any other horror movies?
Yes. (I did a comedy) <not sure that’s what was said> I like all kinds of movies. I’d like to try anything.
Q: Can you sympathize with Kayako?
Yes, I do. I understand why she became like she is.
Q: Thanks for the nightmares!
I am so sorry. [laughs]
Staci Layne Wilson reporting
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Be sure and read our Grudge 2 on-set interview with Amber Tamblyn.
Don't forget to read our exclusive interview with Takashi Shimizu from 2004.