Child actress Kokone Hamada was selected from among 2,500 hopefuls who auditioned for the role of Oshin Tanimura in Oshin, a film remake of a popular Japanese drama from the 1980s.
In an interview with Encore Films, the nine-year-old reveals how it was like to be separated from her family for 52 days of filming.
What were the most difficult moments during filming?
It was during the scene where I had to run and fall in the snow, with strong wind blowing. I was covered in snow and it was freezing to the extent that I couldn't feel my body. It was so cold and painful that I cried.
(But) the separation scene (between Oshin and her family) was definitely the most difficult scene to shoot.
Did filming the scenes with Oshin's mother, Fuji (Aya Ueto), make you think of your own mother?
There were a lot of times it happened.
The scene where Oshin was on a raft, being separated from her parents, and when her mother visited Kagaya Mansion (where Oshin worked).
Also, the scene where her mother entered the river reminded me of the time when I had to say goodbye to my own mother at Haneda airport. I was really sad.
Did you understand Oshin's feelings when she had to leave her parents to work for the Kagaya family?
Because my mother and I like this story, I understood Oshin's feelings well. At first, when I read the script, I felt sad for Oshin, but as the filming went on, she grew up and met different people along the way and things became better for her.
Now, I think Oshin is a strong and brave person who can withstand hardship.
Do you think you and Oshin have any similarities?
Yes, we do not cry easily in front of people (laughs).
After filming the last scene, when director Shin Togashi told me while crying that I had worked hard, I did not cry at all.
However, when I found out at the wrap-up event that my mother was coming to fetch me, I was really grateful. I wanted to meet her so badly during filming that I nearly cried, but I felt embarrassed to cry in front of so many people, so I held back my tears.
When my mother and I were alone in the hotel room, I cried immediately. The last day of filming was my ninth birthday. It was a very pleasant birthday.
Has anything changed for you after acting as Oshin?
I think I have grown stronger. If I were about to cry, I would tell myself: "I must not cry! Keep going!"
And I can run faster now. I always came in last at sporting meets, but I was able to come first this year. I became a relay-race runner and I think this is the result of running in the snow multiple times (laughs).
Oshin is screening at Golden Village cinemas islandwide.
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