ELLY NANAMI AND RUNA ENDO INTERVIEW
Interview conducted by Daniel Benson
With the release of Japanese crossover Sadako Vs Kayako tomorrow (January 26th) via online streaming service, Shudder, we got a chance to chat with the actresses behind the two spooks from the film, and quiz them about all things creepy and unusual in the world of these famous girl ghosts.
Daniel Benson: Sadako (Ringu/The Ring) & Kayako (Ju-On/The Grudge) are two of the most recognisable characters from Japanese horror, how did it feel to be chosen to portray them in the film?
Elly Nanami (Sadako): When I was an elementary school student, I saw Sadako for the first time in a film and I was very scared. So to be chosen to play the character was a great honour, but also a big responsibility. I tried to enjoy it as much as possible!
Runa Endo (Kayako): The same for me! When I was young, I watched Kayako on screen and was always aware of how significant both she and Sadako are in Japanese horror movies. Actually, I’m not much of a fan of horror movies, but when I got the opportunity to audition, I was very happy.
For this film being Sadako Vs Kayako, I have been involved with the promotional events, so I have had to fight with Sadako a lot. The character of Kayako is not quite as famous as Sadako, so I wanted to make her more well-known. After the release of the film, Kayako received many messages through social media, so I think I was successful.
DB: You both took part in the promotional events, such as the baseball game where the two characters appeared and the Kayako and Toshio Instagram account, how much fun was it being involved in those?
EN: I’m from Hokkaido, where the baseball game took place, and it was really nice to see so many people I know there. It was also featured on the local news, which made me happy to know that even more people would get to know about my character and the film.
RE: Well, the baseball game was very popular and, along with Kayako’s son Toshio, I even managed to hit the ball! I have some friends who were not really interested in the movie at the time, but after the game they all wanted to see it.
Kayako and Toshio have an Instagram account where we do normal, everyday things like laundry or homework. In the movie we are scary, but on Instagram we are just a mother and son. I don’t think anyone expected to see us looking so normal!
DB: Have you both seen the film with an audience yet?
EN: I was there on the release day at one of the screenings as Sadako (not as Elly!). I couldn’t see the faces of the people who were there [because of the long hair], but I watched the news reports and the audience seemed to enjoy themselves.
DB: Western audiences seem to take the film as part humour and part horror, is that the same way as the Japanese audiences understand it?
EN: I have a group of friends who went to see the movie and they said it was scary and also they laughed at certain points. They said the audience around them had a similar reaction, so I guess both Japanese and Western audiences see it in roughly the same way.
DB: Elly, you are the seventh actress to play Sadako in a Ringu movie, and Runa, you are the fifth Kayako; did you feel pressured to make your performances as scary as the original characters?
EN: The previous Sadakos were played by big actresses and I was conscious of what a responsibility I had. I spoke with the director, Kôji Shiraishi, and he said Sadako was different this time; she is a character from urban legend, so he asked me to try and make a ‘new’ Sadako.
RE: There are so many fans of Kayako, I felt under pressure not to disappoint them. Kôji Shiraishi suggested that I play her as a cross between a ghoul and a spider, so I tried to bring that into her character. I tried to reduce being a human and crawl, insect-like, in the way a human could not.
DB: What was the most difficult thing about shooting the film for you both?
EN: Sadako’s face is always totally covered by hair, so I could never use any facial expressions. I also have no dialogue, so I just have to be scary by being there. Also, when the hair is over my face, I can only see my feet; I can’t see to the sides and I can’t hear much either, so I spent a lot of time practising my ‘scary walk’ to make the character as creepy as possible.
RE: Definitely the physical challenges. Kayako had to keep both arms above her neckline the whole time and cock her head to one side, and it was really hard to keep this position. Every day I had had muscle pains. When I had to crawl down the stairs, I was supported by a rope in rehearsals, but when we did the take, I had no rope and had to support my body weight on my arms as I crawled down.
The makeup also took a lot of time to apply and dry off. The first time it took six hours to apply, but as time went on, the makeup artists managed to get that down to an hour.
DB: The film is going to be released on streaming service Shudder in the US, Canada and UK. How does it feel to know your faces are going to be all over the world?
RE: I am so happy this movie will be released all over the world and I’m grateful that people will see it. Japanese horror has a very unique kind of scary atmosphere that seems to be popular everywhere, so I hope it is a success for the director, Kôji Shiraishi.
EN: I was very surprised our little Japanese horror movie will be so popular with the world. I’m honoured to be a part of it and happy that my version of Sadako will be so famous. But we must remember my character was a joint effort between me, my director and the people that worked on the film. I couldn’t have done it by myself!
DB: Finally, we know how the battle ends in the film, but who do you think would really win in a battle between Sadako and Kayako?
EN: I think it would be lead actress Yuri Kurahashi, she’s the real hero of the film.
RE: Kayako, of course!
Sadako Vs Kayako is released exclusively on Shudder on 26th January.
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