Exclusive: Rinko Kikuchi Talks Pacific Rim 2 and Star Wars: Episode VIII

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We had the chance to speak with Oscar-nominated actress Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) about her acclaimed new film Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter and got a little insight–with help from her translator Yuko Kashiwagi–into Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming sequel Pacific Rim 2, for which she hopes to reprise her role as Mako Mori.

She also spoke about her avid interest in appearing in Star Wars: Episode VIII for which she could reunite with The Brothers Bloom director Rian Johnson. 

SuperHeroHype: What’s the current status of Pacific Rim 2?

Rinko Kikuchi: (laughs) I hope I will be in it, but I haven’t heard anything about Pacific Rim 2.

SHH: So Guillermo hasn’t gotten in touch with you?

Kikuchi: No, I think he wants me to be in the movie, but I’m not sure. There’s a lot I cannot talk about.

SHH: During press for the first movie, you said you’d like to see Mako and Raleigh’s relationship intensify if there was a sequel.

Kikuchi: “Pacific Rim” did not follow the cookie cutter tradition of blockbusters where you have girl meets boy, they fall in love and get together and live happily ever after. So I think one of the themes that runs through “Pacific Rim” is how that relationship becomes a good strong relationship. You’re going into a realm that goes beyond just your standard boy/girl relationship.

SHH: Word just dropped a few minutes ago that Disney has confirmed a May, 2017 release for Star Wars: Episode VIII. Your old buddy Rian Johnson is confirmed to direct as well.

Kikuchi: Wow. Right. I e-mailed him almost a year ago, I really wanted to join them, but there’s no role for me. I think he had an idea, because there was supposed to be a role for a Japanese and maybe I thought there’s something there, an idea might be there, but apparently there’s not! 

There you have it. Keep in mind it is still early days on both projects, the important thing being Kikuchi’s enthusiasm for these franchises. Disney’s new Star Wars films in particular have been a revolving door for actors and directors, with scripts reworked and characters reportedly revamped or gender-swapped on a dime before production. Perhaps with the proper fan enthusiasm, Lucasfilm and Johnson can find a place in the Star Wars universe for a strong female role model like Kikuchi.

It’s also possible that Mako Mori could be benched for most if not all of Pacific Rim 2 by design, as Del Toro stated the following in October: “All I can say is some of your favorite characters come back, some others don’t because we have decided that we’re going to shoot ambitiously and say ‘Let’s hope we have three movies,’ so some characters come in at the end of the second, hoping that it will ramp up on the third one.”

Guilermo del Toro returns to the director’s chair for Pacific Rim 2, which he will co-write with Zak Penn for an April 7, 2017 release through Legendary and Universal. Less than two months later, Disney and Lucasfilm will unleash writer/director Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26, 2017.