Mie Hama Bond’s Bride
At 52, Mie Hama is still an incredibly sexy woman. The former ‘Bond girl’ arrived for our interview wearing a tight leather miniskirt, and she appeared remarkably youthful for a woman whom most American viewers have not seen for 30 years. Nevertheless, she had the fortune (good or otherwise) to appear in the kinds of films that fans recall even decades later. In You Only Live Twice, she played a Japanese spy who ‘marries’ James Bond (Sean Connery) as part of the superspy’s cover. In King Kong Vs. Godzilla, she was menaced by both title monsters. Unlike other stars of her caliber, she abhors the celebrity game. She is indifferent to the profession in which s replica watches he excels. Like Brando, Hama seems to regard acting as a rather trivial vocation. Because of this, I at first thought Hama was something of a snob; only later did I realize that she simply and genuinely has ambitions beyond motion pictures. After the interview, we chatted for a time, and during our conversation my interpreter, Atsushi, mentioned that he had been the victim of the infamous subw replica watches ay gas attack. Several people in his train car died, and Atsushi survived almost accidentally (though he was blinded for several weeks). The experience changed his life, and, like Hama, he abandoned his dreary salaryman existence to look for something more. In the end, I think Hama got a lot more out of her conversation with Atsushi than she did reminiscing about King Kong vs. Godzilla and The Lost World of Sinbad. HOW DID YOU COME TO WORK FOR TOHO?I was working on a bus line as a kind of conductor, and some colleagues of mine applied to the New Face Contest and entered my name without telling me. I didn’t watch those kinds of films at all. I had no great interest in working in filmsI was more interested in politics. Even when I got the offer, I still had no great interest in film, and I knew I was lacking in experience. And so at first I refused, though even my boss at the bus company thought that it could be a really good experience for mehe said my job at the bus company and acting in films was similar in the sense that I would be trying to please people and make people happy. It’s a story with a lot of contradictions. It was fun, but I often argued with director [Kengo] Furusawa about the characters I had to play, and after 13 years in film, I really wanted to quit being an actress. There was something else I really wanted to do, something personal. When I was 17, I went to Europe for about three weeks; even then I knew about European cinema: The Bicycle Thief, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren. I was in Rome for ten days. I saw that Marcello Mastroianni was on stage there, and went every day for a week. I spoke some English already, but not very much Italian. I went to the Japanese Embassy to have the script translated into Japanese. Then, one day at the theater, a lady asked me if I was a fan of Mastroianni, and I said, ‘Yes, I am.’ And she said, ‘It might be possible for me to get you in to see him.’ The play itself was not very great, but the next day, right after the performance, I was introduced to him. At the time I had long hair; I wore jeans and a T shirt, just like a student. He asked what I did for a living, and I said I was a young film actress in Japan. I told him I wanted to quit. He asked why, and I said it was kind of boring for me. He said, ‘Can you see how much I’m sweating? Have you ever tried so hard to please an audience that you worked up a sweat?’ That really surprised me, and I became more serious about acting. But even though I became a big star, I rarely had a chance to work up a sweat as an actress. Even though there were great actresses making great films, I was working with Hitoshi Ueki and Godzilla. Still, over time I came to understand it and have fun with it. WHAT KIND OF DIRECTOR WAS ISHIRO HONDA [KING KONG VS. GODZILLA AND KING KONG ESCAPES]?He was a really great director. Totally different character from Kurosawa. Very quiet direction. I was put in the palm of King Kong, and in front of the blue screen running away; I had no idea what it was all going to look like. It was very impressive technically, thanks to Mr. I thought it was great. What was he like?He was a friend, a good co wo replica watches rker. It was somewhat tense working with him. WAS THERE AN ACTOR OR ACTRESS WHOSE WORK PARTICULARLY INSPIRED YOU?Not in Japan. Sean Connery. Sidney Poitier. Audrey Hepburn. Mr. Sean ConneryI think he is a very great person; I cherish hi replica watches m like a sister cherishes an older brother. Sean Connery could take time off work and be himself, pretty natural. He has a very humane personality. She got tired of spending so much time in the hotel. My English teacher was a theater actressshe wanted to instill Shakespeare in me, but I was Japanese. I asked to have my English instructor changed, and so the next person was a good friend of Mr. Connery’s. I went to her room, rang the bell, and Mr. Connery was standing there in the doorwaytall and dark and handsomestanding there with a big dog. He asked, ‘Could you keep the dog with you for a while?’ ‘Sure,’ I said. He was very concerned with the harmony of the production team. The volcano was a really huge set; it was six stories high. They even brought an engineer from NASA to inspect it. Ken Adam, the production designer, was really great. It was a real adult woman’s role. He came over to Japan and visited my house; we had a nice chitchat about it. IS THAT TRUE?Yes, it’s true. I didn’t have much confidence with my English at the time. It was a sudden offer. I was asked by Toho to do it, but I didn’t think I could handle the role. Mr. Fukuda was easy to work with. At Toho, people were able to be very individualistic and pursue their own style. What is it like?WELL, THEY TOOK THE ORIGINAL FILM AND REDUBBED IT AS A COMEDY. I’ve never done anything that I really wanted to do. Producer [Sanezumi] Fujimoto thought the role fit me, and arranged it. I wrote a book and for magazines, and now I have my own interview program. But when Japanese film went into decline, I was dissatisfied. I worked in television for ten years; then I worked with the government on agricultural and environmental issues. Mastroianni convinced me to stay an actress for 10 years, but it was time to move on. WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?Many projects. For example, I’d like to continue to help the government and be a leader for those kinds of activities. I have my own radio program, which I’ve had on NHK for the last 10 years. I write for a monthly magazine. I’m often asked why I have a program on agricultural and environmental issues. ‘But you’re an actress,’ people say. And I reply that I’ve always been very interested in the environmentI just became an actress along the way. Godzilla (1962); The Lost World of Sinbad (1963); Adventures of Takla Makan (1965); King Kong Escapes, You Only Live Twice [Brit/US/S. African] (1967); Monsieur Zivaco (1968).