Rie Miyazawa was
born in 1973 and raised single handedly by her mother (her Dutch father left before Rie
was born). At the age of eleven, Rie made her debut in an ad for Kit-Kat. From there she
picked up other campaigns with ease, becoming one of the first bishojo, a new trend where
pretty young girls were used to promote goods on posters, telephone cards and TV
commercials. When the bishojo boom began to trail off Rie was quick to move into more
substantial work, and landed a role in a highly popular kids comedy, Bokura no Nanokakan
Senso, in 1989. In order to advance and control her daughter' blossoming career, Rie's
mother founded a talent agency in 1990. Under her guidance, Rie was making around JY385
million a year by 1991 just from her corporate ad campaigns.
Rie's next step was to drop her girl-next-door reputation by posing topless in a loincloth
for a major calendar. Then in 1992 she appeared in the movie Erotic Liaisons, an updated
version of the classic French novel "Dangerous Liaisons", and released
"Santa Fe," a steamy nude photo book. NHK promptly dropped her from its popular
"Kohaku" program. Being dropped from the show was ultimately of little
consequence as, following a series of racy nude print ads in major newspapers, the book
went on to sell 1.5 million copies in three months!
Things seemed to have gotten even better by October of that year when rising sumo star
Takanohana proposed marriage. Rie accepted and the couple announced their engagement to a
frenzied media (NHK reportedly offered one billion yen for the rights to screen the
wedding). By the turn of 1993 things had started to sour due to a widening schism between
the families, seemingly over whether Rie would continue to work or give up her career to
be a "sumo wife." It was quite clear what Rie's mother wanted and soon the
engagement was called off.
Following the split, Rie seemed to be on a downward spiral to self-destruction. In
September of 1994 she cut her wrists with a broken glass in what was described as an
"accident." The tabloids focused on Rie's drinking session, fights with her
mother and her escape to a nearby hotel as signs of a failed suicide attempt. Rie,
however, seemed to pull herself back from the brink, putting in a commendable performance
in Ichikawa Kon's movie Chushingura that year. But the following February she
pulled out of the drama Kura and in November backed out of the musical Kyote.
Pictures of her looking decidedly gaunt began to circulate and there was speculation about
whether she had developed an eating disorder. In early 1996 Rie fled to L.A. to begin her
recovery from anorexia. But by May she was back on TV reporting from the Cannes Film
Festival and later that year she appeared in two TV dramas, Hanayome Kaizoebito
and Kysokyoku . Kyosokyoku turned out to be a great success and it
seemed as if Rie's magic touch was back. In 1997 she made Mikeneko Homes (tasogare)
Hoteru, and also appeared on stage. Now with a major role in 1999's NHK Taiga Drama,
Rie has forced all those who wrote her off a couple of years back to amend the ends of
their commentaries. Having proven everyone wrong, Rie definitely doesn't seem ready to
give up the limelight-not just yet.