Holding a grudge
Sarah Michelle Gellar goes from hunting vampires to ghostbusting
in Takashi Shimizus The grudge
By Chris Betros
|Takashi Shimizu and Sarah
Sarah Michelle Gellar reckons the scariest
scene to film
in The Grudge (called The Juon in Japan) was the shower sequence.
There were 17 Japanese men in there with me, she
says with a laugh.
Gellar, who has been fighting vampires on TV for seven years
as Buffy, plays Karen, a part-time social worker who is in
Japan with her student boyfriend. One day she takes a job
as a caregiver for a catatonic American woman who is freaked
out because the house is haunted by a dead mother and son
who dont want anyone moving in.
Directed by Takashi Shimizu, who also directed the original
Japanese version its the latest Hollywood remake of
a Japanese horror film, which producer Sam Raimi praises highlyso
much so that he insisted Shimizu be given the job and not
an American director. However, this caused some problems,
Takashi recalls. I had a good conversation with Sam
and we were both on the same level. He wanted me to keep the
ambiguity of the Japanese horror movie, but after we started
editing, the studio bosses said the opposite. They wanted
the typical American pattern where everything is cut and dried,
so we had a bit of conflict. Fortunately, audiences
in Japan will get to see the directors cut, while US
audiences have to wait until it is released on DVD in June.
I generally find Japanese horror [films] scarier than
American ones. Maybe it is because we find those things that
are different or unfamiliar to be scary, says Gellar,
who is skilled in kickboxing and taekwondo. She had a ball
in Japan, visiting Kyoto, Hakone, Ueno and taking in some
sumo. We had a purification ceremony on the set before
we started and that was an intense experience.
Born in New York, Gellar went to school with fellow actor
Macaulay Culkin. She did theater work and some controversial
TV ads, including one for Burger King that resulted in her
and the company being sued by McDonalds. Also, because
of the truth in advertising law then (I only eat at
Burger King), she reportedly could only venture into
other fast-food restaurants in disguise.
She made her feature film debut in High Stakes (1989), but
it wasnt until 1997 that she got her big breakthrough
as the title actor in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
In between TV work, she made films such as Scream 2, I Know
What You Did Last Summer, Cruel Intentions and two Scooby-Doo
films. I dont feel typecast by Buffy or any one
genre, she says. I look at every role separately
and dont compare them. I just try to stay true to the
character and put forth the directors vision of the
Sushi bar mayhem
online movie Kaiten LAUNCHES WITH A BANG
in Roppongi hosts the launch of a short, three-part film
called Kaiten (English title: Life Is a Merry-Go-Round),
an offbeat mystery set in a sushi restaurant. It can only
be seen on the Internet at http://cinemawave.jp/pc/live/gemcerey/index.html
Clockwise from top left: Cinema analyst and emcee Fumine
Yakumo; American TV personality Kaiya; Mayuko Iwasa fires
her gun as other cast members look on; director Seiji
A smart phone that you can wear on your wrist?
No, its not science fiction, but a very plausible device,
says Australian entrepreneur Richard Northcott, CEO of Enfour
Group, a Tokyo-based global leader in multilingual mobile
solutions and content. Its a company he set up in 1992.
When did you first come to Japan?
I came here on a working holiday visa in 1986, attended Sophia
University and worked at Sun Music, a music production company,
and then Sony Communications and CBS Sony.
What had you studied at university?
Restoration of art.
Big difference from what you are doing now, right?
In those days, they were looking for anyone with any sort
of computer experience. Im basically self-taught all
along the way and Im still learning.
What are you focusing on now?
Mainly two areas. One is the embedded side of mobile solutions
and that is helping handset manufacturers put software inside.
The second is online software for mobile phones, mainly focusing
on the practical solution end of the market rather than entertainment.
Which of your products is an example of that?
TangoTown. It turns your mobile phone into a complete communication,
reference and learning tool by combining a multilingual dictionary
engine, UniDict, with a variety of educational tools and cultural
So what about this wearable wrist phone?
Its just a matter of cost and demand. But you first
have to build a lifestyle aspect. Function and form are important
but social acceptance is too. Unlike when they first came
out, handsets are now ubiquitous, but Star Trek broache
phones would find too much resistance right now.
Whats a typical day for you?
I show up about 11 or midday. Sometimes Ill work all
night. Im usually in the office until late.
How do you relax when you are not working?
I practice karate, so I try and get out early occasionally
for that. I like to socialize after midnight. I catch up with
my friends for drinking in Shinjuku.
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