All Eyes On Kiko

The Model and Norwegian Wood Star On Acting and Araki

Tokyo-based Kiko Mizuhara is new to the acting game. Having worked as a successful model in Japan (appearing regularly in teen-tastic titles such as ViVi, Seventeen and NYLON), the Korean-American beauty now stars as the elusive Midori in the much-anticipated adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, directed by Tran Anh Hung (whose previous films include The Scent of Green Papayas and Cyclo). Here Kiko talks about the big-screen transition, and getting "naughty" with master Japanese photographer, Nobuyoshi Araki, in the new Barneys holiday campaign

How was the experience of working with Araki on the Barneys shoot?

As is always the case in any Araki photo shoot, I came out with movements and expressions that I can’t even believe I’m capable of. It surprises me every time—it’s so exciting. 

You had to use some pretty interesting props―raw squid for example.

It was so much fun. Shooting with Araki is the only time when I can do these things, after all––I just had to enjoy it. It was funny, though, how he was commenting “Naughty!” every time I held each prop. He was the one who was telling me to do so! [Laughs.]

You're making your acting debut in Norwegian Wood. How did you find the process?

I still have some funny feelings about it—why I was chosen for the film, for example. But the director Tran taught me a lot. He was very funny and charming, and I appreciate that he showed me such love and care. Norwegian Wood has changed my life.

The novel has a huge cult following, and Midori is one of its strongest characters. Had you read the book beforehand?

I had never read any of Murakami’s books before. I was reading Norwegian Wood for the first time during the audition. I’m not generally a big reader of books, but the astonishing thing about Norwegian Wood is that while I was reading it, all sorts of images came into my head, like in a film. I can totally understand that there’s a huge cult following. People around me kept telling me how amazing the opportunity was and, with all the features in the newspapers, I did feel the pressure. But I knew if I became too nervous the film wouldn’t come out as good, and there would be no point, so I tried not to think about it too much and relax into the role.

Can we look forward to seeing more of you in the West?

I’ll work hard and do my best.

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