Free Spirit of Spring
Actress and quick-change artist Chiaki Kuriyam
photography by Osamu Yokonami (A.K.A. Management) / hair & make-up by Masafumi Kuji / styling by ume / text by Yoshiaki Washizu
Bright and bohemian, flowery and floatythese are some of the words that describe the fashion trends for spring and summer 2005. Just about anything goes this season. Feel like wearing shorts and fur? Stilettos and a demure bow-tied sash? Go right ahead. This year's styles defy classification. Wear what makes you happy!
||Dress, 756,000 yen
ring, 13,650 yen
sunglasses, 37,800 yen / Christian Dior
Monchichi doll, 14,980 yen / Stream
"When Quentin was in Japan," Kuriyama begins, "he was having dinner with Kinji Fukasaku and invited me along. Quentin had seen my film Battle Royal, directed by Fukasaku, and we just talked... About a year later, he asked me to be in Kill Bill 1. In the first script my part was named Yuki, but Quentin was still trying to decide between Go Go and Yuki. I never thought it would really be Go Go! That was a real shock. But since everybody called me Go Go in a friendly way, it was fine."
The Quentin that Chiaki Kuriyama talks about with a smile on her face is of course director Quentin Tarantino. In his hit film Kill Bill Vol. 1 she played Go Go Yubari, wearing a school-girl uniform and twirling her weapon, the Go Go ball. Playing this one-of-a-kind killer in mortal combat against mega-star Uma Thurman (in the role of The Bride) made her name known around the world.
||Dress with flower corsages, 168,000 yen
camisole worn underneath, 23,100 yen
top worn underneath as a skirt, 5,250 yen
shoes, 35,700 yen.
All by HAN AHN SOON, at LE CIEL BLEU-aoyama
Wreath worn as a hat (prototype) / Nid de La Fee
Kuriyama has just turned 20 but she's been in show business for quite a while. How did she get started? "I was watching the kids' show Ponkikkies on TV," she says, "and I just wanted to be in it, to have some fun. I signed with an agency when I was five years old and my first job was modeling."
After she became well known as a teenage model, she got her big chance: the 1999 horror film Shikoku. "Actually," she recalls, "a cameraman I had worked with on a shoot asked me if I wanted to act in Shikoku. I had never really liked horror films and had never even gone to see one. But it was a big opportunity and I wanted to give it a shot. I had never acted before and was a bit nervous. Since it was my first try, it was only natural that I couldn't act. So when I looked at it like that, I was fine. When we finished shooting, it hit me that I actually enjoyed acting! You work hard and it pays. It's really satisfying."
||Dress, 200,000 yen
flower corsage, 60,000 yen
ISSEY MIYAKE, at ISSEY MIYAKE INC.
Whether it's modeling or acting, both careers fulfill Kuriyama's urge to express herself. Perhaps it's her calling. Watching and listening to her in conversation, she seems no different from any 20-year-old young woman. But once she's in front of the camera, she changes into something else. Her huge, bewitching eyes entice the beholder.
"Ever since I was a little girl," she says, "I've had this 'transformation' craving. So I enjoy modeling, putting on the clothes and make-up. And acting is the same. I can become someone completely different. So my work fulfills my transformation wish. Both modeling and acting are important to me."
Surprisingly for a 20-year-old living her wish, she calmly analyzes the difference between her work as a model and as an actress, and shows a slight sense of anxiety about continuing her acting career.
"For modeling," she explains, "you need certain instincts to know what poses to strike for a certain kind of look, and if you want your shoots to look good, you try to perfect what works. When it comes to acting, you need to learn to project something you're not born with in order to build a particular role. That's the difference. So, expressing myself is modeling and creating another character is acting. I've been acting now for quite a while, but sometimes I don't know if I can continue. I do feel that acting is right for me."
And she is determined to continue. "As an actress, because my debut was in film, I feel more at home with filmmakingwhere there's a lot of waiting around on the setas opposed to making TV dramas. On a film I spend the time thinking about my part or planning for the following day. That rhythm suits me. With Kill Bill 1, there was plenty of time on the set and I put in some of my own ideas. One was actually usedwhen Go Go Yubari was dying, her tears were red. Yes, I enjoy that time on the set and playing someone else."
Kuriyama seems to get pure enjoyment from each job and to grow at the same time. Inside her small body are many talents that continue to expand as her experience grows. She turns the pressure of her work into energy. "Now that I'm finally 20," she says, "I can play more varied roles and I look forward to that. Doing each job with care will become a career and satisfy my transformation craving. I do want to continue acting and become someone that nobody else can copy."
She has two films ready for release in 2005. In Shusuke Kaneko's period film Azumi 2 she again takes on the challenge of an action role, and in Takashi Miike's Yokai Daisenso she plays the evil monster in most eccentric costuming. Where will her passion for transformation lead her next?
Articles from the 2005 SPRING issue:
Kateigaho International Edition Issues:
2005 SUMMER - 2005 SPRING - 2005 WINTER
2004 AUTUMN - 2004 SUMMER - 2004 SPRING - 2004 WINTER
2003 AUTUMN - INAUGURAL ISSUE