Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. How difficult was it for you working in Japan with
a director whose English was not fantastic, and I'm told that
many of his words and sentences he had at his disposal were based
on watching Star Wars?
A. Actually, what was worse was the words that we taught
him. They'd probably get him arrested in America. It was one of
those things that, at first, I was really excited about, and then
when I got there I panicked and thought 'there's no way this could
possibly work, there's no way...' I mean, I listen to people speak
other languages and I think there's no way I could possibly helm
an entire film and direct it.
But it was just this amazing education for me in communication.
And what I learned is that you really don't need language, that
certain things transcend languages. We used a translator in the
beginning but by the end she would joke that she was afraid she
was going to be fired because you just learned to look into people's
eyes and listen to loops in their voices; you learn their body
language, when they sit, how their hands move, and you wind up
being able to communicate so well that you realise that you don't
necessarily always need language.
Q. How did you adjust to the whole thing about being
in Japan where it's so different from the customs of the west?
You mention in the notes walking onto the set carrying food...
A. I had a few faux pas, I'm not going to lie. You know,
it's learn as you go, but I think I had so much great respect
for the culture and for the traditions that it makes it that much
easier - and they were pretty tolerant of the few [coughs], many
faux pas that I did worry about making because they were made
just out of not understanding, not out of lack of respect for
them and for their culture.
Q. I don't suppose you can be disrespectful at all?
A. I can be at times! But, you know, I tried not to be
in Japan. I save that for America!
Q. Did you buy a kimono?
A. I didn't buy a kimono - they're so complicated (I'm
sure most of you men have, at some point, had to put on a kimono),
but they're so complicated to put on that you really need a professional
person to tie you in. We used to wear those kimono pyjama type
things, but I don't think they actually really count as kimonos.
One of my cast mates did, though, go to one of the traditional
places and got to put on a full, antique kimono and they are unbelievably
expensive. To me, I don't know if I could actually wear it to
And I had trouble with the shoes, because they wear the sandals
with socks, so the whole waxing thing was a little complicated.
Q. Japanese horror films are a culture and a genre all
to themselves, so how did you approach it as an actress looking
at the script? Did you make changes yourself to change it away
from the Japanese culture?
A. No, it was really important to all of us... the reason
that I made this film was because it was Japanese; because it
was being done, in my opinion, in the right way. This is the first
time that a Japanese film has ever been remade for an English-speaking
audience with the original Japanese director and it's what I loved
about it. I think it's one of the reasons why this genre works
so well in Japan because it comes from such an emotional place;
it comes from these very serious beliefs that they have on existentialism
and life and it was really important to us that we didn't American-ise
it. It was only where absolutely necessary for the purpose of
understanding the film that we did it.
I love the non-linear aspect to it. You know, American horror
films - and films in general - have a beginning, a middle and
an end and this does not work within that realm, but I loved the
ambiguity of it; I loved that it doesn't spell it out, even specifically
with the music. You know I think we're so used to in America (and
I'm sure here as well) that the music starts, it starts to crescendo,
ok, here comes the scary thing. And I think that takes away from
it and detracts. There, there's so much silence and you don't
realise how eerie it is. American film-makers are petrified of
silence, I can tell you that one. Someone's got to say something
every scene, and I think it was those aspects that formed the
reason why I did it.
Had it been done in America, with an American director, I don't
feel that it would have had the impact that I feel that the movie
actually has. It's not gory, it's not bloody, it's not about that.
Q. When the script first arrived, what was your first
reaction? And when this opens in Japan, does it strike you as
a deep irony that you'll be dubbed into Japanese?
A. It's kind of funny, isn't it? With American subtitles.
But that would be kind of redundant in Japan, because the movie
already is there. I had seen the original movie some time ago
and I just thought it was such an interesting film. The visuals
really stuck with me; it was one of the things that I remember
how innovative I thought that the shocks were - specifically the
shot in the elevator with the little boy, kind of the more specific
shots, like the shower scene, things that you could identify with
the original film.
I heard that they were going to remake it and I don't even think
I turned my head. It wasn't, like, oh that's interesting. I just
assumed it was an American movie, shot with an American director,
and then they told me Sam Raimi, so instantly you sort of perk
up, and then when I found out that they were going to shoot it
in Japan with a Japanese crew, I thought this is a once in a lifetime,
literally, opportunity, because it's never going to be the first
time this was ever done again. So, I jumped at that chance.
As for being dubbed into Japanese, I think it's kind of strange.
Maybe they won't, maybe they'll just let it play and see if it
plays globally, I don't know. I wonder if the same woman willl...
because in Japan they always have the same people that dub specific
Q. Did you find it hard to act scared when you've previously
been so used to being kick-ass?
A. No, that's the amazing thing about [Takashi] Shimizu,
again, is that there's this man who speaks no English but who
is able to create this mood and this feeling on-set that you're
able to deal with, specifically because a lot of his stuff isn't
And, you know, the interesting thing about Japanese film-making,
and on this film in particular - this has nothing to do with your
question, but I'm gonna tell you anyway - American films are so
used to CGI.
Everything is - this has a relevance, I promise - CGI. You just
assume the hand in the shower is CGI. Everything they do is real.
There was another woman, the woman that played Kayako, was in
the shower sticking her hand in my head, or that scene where she
comes down, that wasn't CGI, that was a rig, and she bent down
and got right in my face.
So because of the way they make films, in that sense, and everything
is long, long, long takes. It's so interesting because as an American
actor, you're always, like, 'I want it to be real, can't it be
fluid? Can't we just go all the way through the scene?' But because
of, usually, technical aspects, you can't; you get to Japan and
they want to do everything all at once and you're like, 'what'?
It's so different.
Q. The little boy, who has been in two or three versions
of the film over the years, what's he like? Is he slightly scarred
by the whole experience?
A. Well, uh, he's an interesting boy! You know what,
he doesn't care. The only thing is, he hates cats. So whenever
we did a scene where there's the cat, he freaked out and gets
really ratty. He's definitely - and I'm trying to say this politely
- but he's definitely an odd child, but there were questions I
wanted to ask him that you just didn't want to ask through a translator,
or with his mum around, like 'what do the kids at school say to
you?' Stuff like that.
The only person that I think the film was truly difficult on,
actually, was him because, obviously, I didn't speak Japanese
fluently and the Japanese actors didn't speak English, but you
know we had ways of communicating. But as a child, you're still
learning how to communicate with adults in your own language,
so I think the only person that it was hard on was him, because
when he had scenes with me, obviously, there was a lot of English
spoken and, from that point of view, he had a little bit of a
And what's really odd is we have such serious child labour laws
in America, and Japan doesn't have these child laws. So all the
American actors were working under our union contracts, so we
could only work 12 hours a day, we had to have 12 hours of sleep,
and all this stuff, but they don't have that, so what they would
do is work the American actors til midnight, and then at midnight
this poor little kid would come in and, like, work in his little
underwear until 3am, while they drowned him. You know, I'd be
a little bit... if I was this kid too!
So if anyone is bored and wants to unionise Japan, it's a market
ready for it..
Q. Was he familiar with Scooby-Doo and did he think Daphne
was going to ride up to the rescue?
A. I don't know what that child was familiar with! I
know it's a really horrible thing to say but....
Q. Given the success of Buffy
and things like that, have you actively tried to find projects
that, while not completely different, played to your strengths
without being a copy?
A. Well that's interesting, the show was so amazing,
I mean it was eight years and an incredible run, and I finished
that show and the next day I went for an interview and then I
had no more professional obligations and it was sort of the first
time where I just picked projects mainly because I wanted to do
When you make a television show, especially when it's Buffy The
Vampire Slayer and you're Buffy, you have a three month hiatus,
if it's even three months. And you can only do a film in that
period, so you're sunk. The best way to look at a film is 'can
I do a film in that period of time?' You know, you can't do independents,
because the financing doesn't come in and then you're pushed,
and it's not like I can disappear for two weeks and people won't
notice on the show, so that was how I picked projects.
But I got lucky it was something I got really passionate about
and when I finished it - it was like September of last year -
I said 'I don't want to work until I'm really passionate about
something', until it's something that I really want to do both
personally and professionally, because I don't have to work to
work, I have to work because I love it.
And no one's going to out-Buffy Buffy because it was so wonderful,
I wouldn't try to replicate that. So I was looking for something
that challenged me, because that was the reason why I left the
show, because after eight years it wasn't challenging in the same
way that I needed. And this is the first time, in that time period,
that I was actively passionate about, and that I actively pursued,
that I went after.
And it's been so rewarding on every level because of that, I've
realised that's how it has to go from now on.
I don't have a set plan where, you know like I have to do a comedy,
or have to do this, the only thing for me is I actively seek out
strong female characters, or female-driven pieces, and it's difficult
to find those films.
Television is driven by females, but films aren't, so this was
a lucky find for me.
Q. Buffy was a lucky find for you because it's made you
a global phenomenon. Everywhere you go, you get recognised. What
is it about it, that made it so special, do you think? I can remember
that it was originally a movie that didn't do well, but then became
a phenomenon on TV?
[Journalist walks out]
A. I guess I offended him! Maybe I should take that personally!
In terms of the movie, it gets a lot of flack, but it's really
not a bad movie. It just, it didn't work at the time, and it wasn't
tonally correct - they hadn't quite balanced the humour and the
metaphor side of it. I think we learned that Buffy works better
as an arc, it works better when you follow this girl's story versus,
again, beginning, middle and an end, because you care much more
about this character.
And it's nothing against Kirsty Swanson, I think she did a great
job and was incredibly funny, but in a short period of time the
character of Buffy can come off a little flippant, it comes off,
you know, a little harsh where if you really realise her plight,
you feel a little more sympathy.
But I think it was time, I think it was time for female empowerment,
it was time for young girls to have these role models. When I
was growing up all the television shows, the girls always wanted
to be popular, there were always growing pains, the girl would
never... she was always a kind of nerd, was never popular, that's
what television shows were about. Now you watch television and
women are superheroes, and spies, and lawyers, and surgeons and
judges, and that's just been in the last ten years, and I think
Buffy was one of the first. But I think society has to be ready
Q. Given that this is the fifth variation of the film,
were some of the actors already anticipating scenes?
A. I think just the little boy [laughs]
Q. But was he anticipating things that you hadn't got
A. That's interesting. You know, I think they did everything
as their first take. Even the scene in the elevator, which was
one of the first things when I got the job, I was like 'please
tell me you're keeping that scene', but he was able to do it on
a little bit of a grander level, because he had a little more
money to do some of the stuff. I think he was excited about the
prospect of that.
I think everbody, in any job, everyone says they would love to
go back and do it again but better, because you know more. And
he sort of felt that too.
The Japanese actors, the other actors, were so excited to be in
an American film, and they were just thrilled and excited, and,
again, there were differences.
The house was a set, we built that house from scratch. In the
original film, that was a real house, so you could imagine the
difficulties of shooting and Japanese houses are so small and
it was complicated.
So I think they were more excited for the challenges that being
repetitive, or at least I hope so.
Q. You've done a lot of stuff that involves the supernatural,
so how do you feel about the supernatural? And did you give up
a lot of roles to play this one?
A. Well yeah, they were banging down my door for all
of Nicole Kidman's roles, so I said 'I've got to do something,
so let me do The Grudge!' [Laughs]
It's been a long trip for me, I'm a little jet-lagged and a little
You know, in terms of the supernatural and stuff, there's two
aspects to this question.
One of them has to do with female roles, and that is this is a
genre where women really do get to be at the forefront. You look
at our last couple of Oscar winners. Halle Berry, her next movie
was Gothika; Charlize Theron took Aeon Flux, or Julianne Moore's
biggest solo hit now has been The Forgotten, or Naomi Watts in
The Ring, or Nicole Kidman in The Others. It's one of those genres
where women really get these great roles, so part of my attraction
to it in particular is that, is that women do get to drive the
story, get the meaty aspects of the story.
But what I loved about this was the sort of law that it was based
on - and the idea that great emotion can carry through life and
death. And I think that most people, even if you're not open to
that kind of stuff, have walked into a room, maybe it's a hotel
room and you have kind of an odd feeling, or even when you go
to someone's house and they've just had an argument, and it kind
of lingers in the air. Just the idea of emotion and how such great
emotion can effect other people. I just sort of loved Shimizu's
whole take on it, and I asked him in the very beginning why he
made this film, because it was not Japanese custom by any stretch
of the imagination to write films about women, it's just not.
But he said that he had spent so much time thinking about the
oppression of women, and how, specifically in Japanese society,
women are oppressed and what happens when all that builds up?
And what happens it if all gets let out and how that then affects
everyone around them? And I thought it was interesting that it
was something that he had already thought about.
Q. What was the first film that had you almost under
your chair with nerves and fear?
A. The Exorcist. Just the music scared me; you hear it
and it's creepy.
Q. Do you get more scared or fewer nightmares from working
in the genre you do?
A. You know they're not real, right? I don't know, my
nightmares are a little more reality-driven than, say, demonic-driven.
But I can still get sucked up into this movie. It's really funny,
because I hadn't seen the movie all finished - the first time
I saw it was at the premiere and all my friends were, like, 'I'm
going for you, but I'm watching it like this [puts hand over her
eyes], and I don't want to see it'. And I was like, 'guys, it's
fine, it's fine' and I found myself even jumping - that I was
able to let go enough that. If something is good, then I can get
sucked up into it. If it's not, then I'm like 'look at the wires,
right there', and 'that's obviously a weird cut'.
Q. Have you had any freaky experiences that have put
you on this whole Buffy track? Are you working through personal
A. Am I working through my personal demons? All actors
are working through their personal demons!
I mean, nothing specific where my dead cat from my childhood came
back and talked to me. I didn't have a cat as a child, so maybe
that's why! Nothing specific. But when of the questions I regularly
get asked is 'was there anything weird that happened on the set?'
And one of the amazing things about working in Japan is that they
do this thing called a purification ceremony, because they so
believe in spirits and you have to be blessed. They brought in
a Japanese priest to come in and we did a whole ritual where we
blessed the set and everybody had a part to play... all the American
actors and the producers, and we basically asked a spirit to watch
over us and make sure that nothing happened.
And it was such an amazing idea - we did sacrifices, not of the
virgin kind, like food and drink.
Q. You're on such a role now. Where do you think you'll
find yourself in ten years time? Where would you like to be? And
do you have any ambition to direct?
A. I have no desire to direct right now. That may change,
but right now it's not something I have the desire for. I'd love
to write, I don't think I'm talented enough, I'm not that good,
but then again there's a lot of other writers out there that aren't
that good [laughs].
I do have a desire to produce, though. I think that being able
to find something in its infancy stages, and see it develop and
really create it would be an amaxing experience, so that is something
that I would definitely like to do.
And as for looking ten years from now, I have trouble looking
ten days from now, but I would like to still be doing work that
challenges me, and hopefully still loving what I do the way I
Q. What's next for you?