entertainment

American actress to star in NHK’s morning serial drama 'Massan'

39 Comments

American actress Charlotte Kate Fox is to star in NHK’s new morning serial drama, "Massan," to be aired from September. NHK’s morning dramas run for six months and largely focus on the lives and experiences of women in Japan.

The programs have proven popular with audiences for more than 50 years.

"Massan" is the 91st NHK drama and will break new ground with a foreign actress as the focus of the tale for the first time.

Fox, 28, was born and raised in New Mexico, U.S. She completed a Master in Fine Arts (Acting) at Northern Illinois University and has performed in a number of theater productions and independent movies, including “Chicago” and “Venus In Fur.”

"Massan" is based on a true story that dates back to the early 20th century about the first Japanese person to produce whisky in Japan and his Scottish wife, Rita.

In the drama, Rita is named Ellie. The couple met in Scotland when he was studying the crafting of whisky, and Ellie has given her husband the nickname Massan. The drama will portray how Ellie and Massan cope with the difficulties of an international marriage and challenges in the production of Japan’s first whisky, as well as Ellie’s struggles to get to grips with Japanese culture.

“I’m very excited to be here," Fox told a news conference this week. "I think that we [my character and I] are the same in the fact that both of us have moved across the world for something or someone that we love."

Fox's grandmother is from Scotland, and she was selected for the role from more than 500 applicants from Japan and overseas.

Tetsuji Tamayama, a popular Japanese actor who will play her husband, said “Charlotte is very peaceful and open-minded, and I am grateful to be able to perform with her. She may struggle as Ellie with Japanese culture and the language, but I will support her, whatever happens, as her husband."

"Massan" will be aired from Sept 29 to March 28, 2015. Filming is planned from May in Osaka, Hokkaido, Hiroshima and Glasgow, Scotland.

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39 Comments
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I wonder if Ms. Fox will be speaking Japanese in the drama or if she will be attempting a Scottish accent in English.

Maybe it is just me, but it seems if you were looking for someone to play someone Scottish, that you might try casting a Scott.

Anyway, I wish Ms. Fox good fortune.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Eh, considering that movie companies all over the world mis-cast certain things (hey, they cast a Korean guy as Mr. Sulu in the newest Star Treks, Chinese as Japanese, etc, all the time in Hollywood), it's not that bad.

It's nowhere near "Thermae Romae" or whatever it's called, that has a "Roman" being played by a Japanese guy,

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

slumdog I wish I could like that comment 100 times.

She will probably NOT be speaking in Scottish, just an awful american twang so that Japanese can understand the English. She will probably also be saying lines like "I go to Shopping."

I think that people who are Scottish have quite a strong national identity, much more so than Americans. I think it would be very hard indeed to try to "act" that. Plus she looks American - Not Scottish at all. I have absolutely no idea why she was chosen for the part, when there are a whole country of Scottish girls (or even Irish, or english) who would have done it better.

-15 ( +5 / -20 )

Fox, 28, was born and raised in New Mexico, U.S. She completed a Master in Fine Arts (Acting) at Northern Illinois University and has performed in a number of theater productions and independent movies, including “Chicago” and “Venus In Fur.”

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I wonder how many applicants have Master in Fine Arts. She probably speaks American English, not Scottish English, maybe a whole bunch of Scottish girls applied, but do they have resume similar to her?

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

'She will probably NOT be speaking in Scottish'

Neither do Scottish people.

11 ( +19 / -8 )

I'm going to flip if they dub her voice like they always do on TV.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

She's got a Master's degree, I hope they make her actually learn Japanese. Talk about parallels between her and Rita Cowan. Neither knowing the country or the language and both jump in and just...DO it. That would make me want to watch for that alone.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Foreign characters in Japanese TV and movies are almost always safe (for Japanese viewers) and obvious stereotypes, much like minority characters were in America decades ago. It'll be interesting to see if they try for anything more than that with this drama...most likely not.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

By "Scottish" do you mean Scotch Gaelic (which most people from Scotland sadly no longer speak, or Scots (English)?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Plus she looks American - Not Scottish at all.

Eh??? If there is a classic "Scottish" look - she has it! Dark reddish brown or red hair and pale skin. Her grandmother was Scottish and the roots clearly show.

Plus - please explain - what does "American" look like?

9 ( +13 / -4 )

I think they are talking about Nikka distilleries founder. One of my favorite single malts of all time is Nikka's Yoichi 15 year. In 2009 is won best single malt in Glasgow.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Scotch is what you drink so I guess " Scotch Gaelic" would be what you speak after drinking it? Before drinking it then I guess we would call it Scottish Gaelic or just Gaelic or maybe straight Gaelic, but there again you could also have a "straight Scotch Gaelic?" Gee, I need a glass of single malt........

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@kimuzukashiiiii

How on earth does anyone "look" Scottish, not American?

I don't see any particular resemblance when I look at Sean Connery, Andy Murray, Susan Calman, Ronni Ancona and Alex Feruson. Or am I missing something?

5 ( +8 / -3 )

@NathalieB

please explain - what does "American" look like?

I wanted to say the same thing ! But you got there first ! (Most "North Americans" being of European ancestry and all that...)

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I like that she paid her dues. Studies fine arts, acted on stage, did all that.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japanese couldn't tell Scottish accent anyways.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Well, NHK has lost one viewer. I was actually hoping for a young Scottish lass with an accent like Billy Connolly, before he started moderating his speech so that the Sasanach hordes could understand him.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Maybe she used Rosetta Ston/;s Japanese Language learning package to learn Japanese. Maybe I wrote. Another maybe is she did excellent in audition, Chicago was musical so I have no doubt she did dancing and singing beside acting without problem. I don;t know how audition is done in Japan. So this is my another guess.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Slumdog:

Maybe it is just me, but it seems if you were looking for someone to play someone Scottish, that you might try casting a Scott.

I know for a fact that they tried - I got a call from a friend-of-a-friend about it back in January. They were looking for someone within a specific age range, with at least some acting experience, fluent in Japanese and most importantly with a Scottish accent.

Pretty hard to find, as it turns out.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

By "Scottish" do you mean Scotch Gaelic

I think you've had one to many. It's Scottish Gaelic.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

All readers back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

hokkaidoguy,

Thanks for the information.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

who watches NHK anyway except people out of job and lazy stay at home wifes ?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Oh dear... I can sense a terrible Hollywood style Scots accent assaulting the ears of Japanese viewers. Why didn't they just hire a Scots actress?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Sounds like a great drama.

Does it really matter if her accent is not perfect? It is for Japanese television, not a Scottish one.

But there are plenty of actors who can do good accents. Pretending to be something that they are not is one of the things that actors tend to do rather well.

Rene Zelwegger did an excellent British accent in Bridget Jones, Hugh Laurie an excellent American accent in House and Maggie Smith an excellent Scots accent in the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

If she has Scottish heritage, why can't that be enough? The fact that she isn't "from" Scotland doesn't seem like it should matter much. The 2014 population of Scotland is only 5.3 million people. Men, women, children. That's 3.5 million people fewer than Osaka-fu alone. And that's an all-time high. Out of those 5.3 million people you're expecting them to find an attractive, classically trained actress who can sing, and have enough of a gift with languages that she can learn enough Japanese in the few months prior to shooting to not only be intelligible, but to know what's she's saying enough to actually EMOTE on camera...

The asadora is a big deal, but even if you aren't Japanese it only takes a Google search to see HOW big a deal it is, and what a good opportunity it presents. So you're telling me that somewhere in Scotland there's an untapped wealth of actresses who were disinterested, or snubbed in the selection process in favor of this "American" imposter?

That's ridiculous. I'm sure they looked at Scottish actresses first, but that accent that seems so highly prized here would be the one thing that would get in the way of being able to actually SPEAK Japanese. So they went for the next best thing. Which, given her credentials, could be THE best thing they could have done.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

"She may struggle as Ellie with Japanese culture and the language, but I will support her, whatever happens, as her husband.”

In a nutshell. The usual NHK clichéd propaganda. Inside vs outside. Duty over change.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This looks like an interesting drama, I will be sure to check it out.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

OK she is a "B" list actress here. Getting a masters in acting fine arts is a waste of time here, anyways how many "A" list actress of actresses have masters in fine arts! Here you can find an actor anywhere, its the nature of that business anybody can do it! Besides never heard of her but good luck!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

OK she is a "B" list actress here.

She may be B-list. Supporting actress in a 15 minute daily drama will hardly attract Scarlet Johanssen!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Plus - please explain - what does "American" look like?

Taking a gander around the local Great American Steak and Buffet where I often eat... "American" looks like the rough outline of a peach. A 300 pound peach. ;-)

She will probably NOT be speaking in Scottish, just an awful american twang so that Japanese can understand the English. She will probably also be saying lines like "I go to Shopping."

Considering her co-star says she will be speaking Japanese, I'm going to say she DEFINITELY will not be speaking Scottish:

She may struggle as Ellie with Japanese culture and the language, but I will support her, whatever happens, as her husband.”

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I remember when they were looking for actresses for this drama. Having a good set of lungs was a big part of it. So chances are, the girl can sing like her character was said to have been able to. I don't watch NHK dramas, but it m

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yes, it sounds like a great drama - These mini-dramas are hugely popular - and from my experience open up a lot of good discussions. I'm happy to see some positive international elements bring brought into the series.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hey! Come on, everyone! Just wish her luck.

For all of us who may have arrived in Japan for the first time, struggling with the language, the stereotypes of where we came from and how we are supposed to behave, and trying to be something other than an ALT, we should support her efforts like those who may have supported us.

At that studio, by the producers or the managers or directors, she will undoubtedly experience some less than ideal treatment at times and will have to fight to be heard. I say, FIGHT ON, Ms. FOX! Fight on!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I thought I once saw Pakkun in a drama where he played an Englishman, but didn't even attempt to fake an English accent? As if 90% of the Japanese viewing public could tell the difference...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh GOD do NOT let this be ANYTHING like "My Darling is a Foreigner." I wish I could fill this page with expletives because that would be the only way to describe that thing they call a "movie." PLEASE GOD!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think Americans learned their lesson after Kevin Costner was the ONLY one in Prince of Thieves to not have a British accent. She doesn't have a lot of experience, but her training and stage background lead me to believe that she'll bring a lot to the table in regards to depth of character AND technical proficiency. I work in the industry, and actors with a theater background have never required the director to say "give me more." Not to mention the fact that they'll work themselves into a coma if you let them.

I know there are a lot of doubts and speculation surrounding her, and that's part of the fun, but I just have a feeling that this will be something special. Stunt casting or not, "Massan" has the potential to be brilliant.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In my area in USA, NHK has one channel World. That is full with topics from many areas and countries in the world every half hour. I hope NHK televise this series here.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Can't wait to see the drama, sounds interesting. Having a Scottish background, she will be capable to mimick the Scottish accent, but likely the Japanese won't be able to understand. Americans sometimes have a hard time picking up a heavy Scottish accent. So NHK was smart in casting her. Good on her!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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