The Iranian cinema master talks directing the big-in-Japan actress
"Rin was the easiest actor I have worked with," says Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. "Without excessive effort and armed with extraordinary talent, she gave the best possible performance. Initially for me, her childlike simplicity was a cause for concern, but once we began to shoot I never had to repeat a take on her account."
"I really aspired to be a celebrity in my teens, triggered by pop girl-groups like Morning Musume or quiz show panelists, just like any other adolescent girl," says Japanese actress Rin Takanashi at a studio in Shibuya, Tokyo. After being spotted at the age of 16 on the streets of Harajuku, she became a teen model and joined idol group Pink Jam Princess, and later became an actress. Now, at a turning point in her career, the 24-year-old’s central role in Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami’s beguiling new Japanese-language film Like Someone in Love has won international recognition.
Takanashi plays Akiko, a college student moonlighting as a call girl. "I had neither the script nor access to Kiarostami’s past movies, so there was no prior preparation as such," she says. "He made one request, and that was 'no acting'. So I went more intuitive, tried to naturally transmit the temperature of the scene." The director’s ambiguous approach blurred the lines between the actress’s own character and her role. “Though my background differs from Akiko’s I didn’t feel like she was a complete stranger."
Love is often tied up with the need to lean against someone. Everyone carries loneliness in their lives – I definitely do
The film hinges on Akiko’s complex relationships with a client and her wildly jealous boyfriend, whose anger gradually overpowers her. Ideas of love and unrequited desire question the emotions that hold them together. "I put that to the director but he wasn’t too sure," says Takanashi. "Initially I played Akiko with the idea that she was just getting on with her 'work'. Then I noticed a flipside, that we seek others only when we’re lonely… Love is often tied up with the need to lean against someone. Everyone carries loneliness in their lives – I definitely do."
Takanashi's filmography has so far centred on films and television in her native country, but the collaboration with Kiarostami got her noticed in the west, and she is looking to move into English-speaking roles. "I was genuinely impressed at Cannes," says Takanashi, excitedly remembering the film’s premiere at the festival last year. "I plan to seek new opportunities to act internationally. I’ve already started on my English lessons…"