She has been solidifying her place by playing memorable yet uniquely different roles, such as the beautiful and emotionally fraught Naoko in Norwegian Wood, and most recently Mako Mori, the adopted daughter of a marshal and ranger for the Pan Pacific Defense Corps, in Pacific Rim.
Her selection of these roles is often driven by who is helming the film. “For me, in thinking about how I could contribute in the international battleground, who I collaborate with is very important. When I work with non-American directors, there’s a sense of camaraderie, a sense of common purpose of expressing yourself in the world of cinema that is dominantly American. It’s also important who you team up with when the relationships last for about a year, with not just shooting but also doing promotion. So it helps when you feel people you work with have similar experiences as you do.”
Kikuchi has been captivated by the cinematic world since her youth. Everybody in her family was drawn to a specific movie genre: her mother, the classics; her dad, Westerns; her two older brothers, action and sci-fi. She herself discovered John Cassavetes’ films, starring his wife Gena Rowlands, and found them so appealing that they became an influential push in her decision to pursue acting.