features

Maki Horikita steps up the pace

26 Comments
By Chris Betros

It’s the end of a busy day for Maki Horikita. The 21-year-old actress has just finished being a judge at the Suntory Cocktail Awards held at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo. Twenty-four cocktails were chosen for the final round of judging. “I’m not a big drinker, so I just sipped a little of each one,” Horikita says shyly, her cheeks showing a pinkish hue.

Born in Tokyo, Horikita got into showbiz when she was 14. A talent scout, who had seen her out and about, came knocking at her door. “They wanted me to audition for a movie, even though I had never done any acting. My parents were very surprised when I passed the audition and got the role. They weren’t really sure I could make it in show business. It wasn’t until I started to make a lot of appearances in magazines and on TV that they finally accepted it as my career.”

Since 2003, the busy Horikita has appeared in a stream of movies and TV dramas, winning several awards along the way, including best newcomer at the 2008 Japan Academy Awards for “Always: Sunset on Third Street,” and best actress at the 2008 Television Academy Awards for "Hanazakari no Kimitachie." In 2007, Vogue named her as one of 11 recipients of Women of the Year, and last year, she was chosen as “Best Leathernist” for looking the best in leather. On TV, Horikita has appeared in commercials for such companies as NTT DoCoMo, Shiseido, Honda, Suntory, Fujifilm, Nintendo and many, many more.

"The best thing about my job is that I get to know my own weaknesses,” Horikita says. “Everyone can see my work, so there is the pressure. I feel motivated to work harder and grow.”

Horikita’s voice is in demand, too. She has done voice acting for Doraemon animated films and the Professor Layton video game series (as Luke), the most recent of which was December’s animated feature "Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva."

“I really love the video game series,” she says. “The challenging part is that I have to act out the child’s cuteness, his carelessness and his naivety through my voice. Although I have been doing the voices for the video game series since 2006, an animated feature requires me to be more particular about the way I speak.”

Horikita has just completed her most ambitious project to date – a movie in which nearly half her dialogue is in English. "Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesia" is directed by Hans Canosa (“Conversations With Other Women”) and co-stars Anton Yelchin (of “Star Trek” and “Terminator 4” fame) and Emma Roberts (“Unfabulous”). Horikita plays a student at an international school in Tokyo, who falls down the stairs and loses four years of her memory.

“Leaning English was tricky at first; I had to get used to scripts that were written horizontally rather than vertically,” she recalls. “There was a lot of memorizing and I worked hard since I could not say no. I had some help from a dialogue coach, who was Japanese. Overall, it was a challenging few months but I feel a sense of achievement.”

On the rare days when she is not working, Horikita says she likes to indulge her hobby of photography, go shopping in Shibuya or just hang out at home. She keeps in touch with her fans on her blog throughout the day whenever she has time. Of the news issues which concern her most, Horikita says “the weather.” Not climate or global warming? “No, the weather, because that affects my day-to-day routine. If I have to do an outdoor shoot, and it’s raining, that makes a difference,” she says.

© Japan Today

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26 Comments
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Horikita is lush.

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Sounds like a clever girl to take all the work that comes her way, even if her face isn't on it.

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" I could not say no "

She sure got the RIGHT attidude !! You go girl !!

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Do any of the so called actors in japan ever study with acknowledged acting educators, pay their dues honing their craft in rep theater productions, get bit parts on TV, then perhaps the big screen, or are they all scouted at a very early age, given a little coaching and voila, are 'actors?'

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cliff, welcome to the wonderful world of the Japanese equity card. The yakuza-run agencies for bikini girls and 'showgirls' has more finance and power now than the traditional theatre schools and acting agencies. These gangsters are taking a large slice of production payments for TV drama. Haruka Ayase is a typical example of a bikini model who was coached into serious drama. Ayase's wikipedia page has totally erased her early career in bikinis (mafia involvement for sure).

Horikita got into showbiz when she was 14. A talent scout, who had seen her out and about, came knocking at her door. “They wanted me to audition for a movie, even though I had never done any acting.

This is a public relations-written lie. Horikita started her career as a gravure model.

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I'm with cliff... Soon as I read "The 21-year-old actress..." I rolled my eyes. Please. All Japanese dramas I have ever seen have been so horribly overacted that it brings to mind Faye Dunaway's performance in 'Mommy Dearest'. This is because, frankly, the average Japanese person (no offense) is satisfied with mediocrity so long as it has a nice rack.

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Best Leathernist! (leatherist?) Way to go! Now that's an accomplishment to really be proud of!!

The news issue that concerns her most is weather. She's not superficial at all. A very deep-thinker, this girl!

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This is because, frankly, the average Japanese person (no offense) is satisfied with mediocrity so long as it has a nice rack.

That's good news, last time I heard Japan's males were becoming emasculated

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wow - another Jbimbo making waves..

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best leathernist. I'd like to see some more of her leathers. don't make fun of her for what her pr ppl prepare for her to say, tht would be sexist.

cliff- lots of good trained actors who've trained as hard as any in the west. but pop culture, esp tv, is of course run by big flashy easy-sell agencies/ programs. There are often good tv shows tho.

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The news issue that concerns her most is weather. She's not superficial at all. A very deep-thinker, this girl!

Shes an actress, do you really expect deep thinking from her? Myself, I like her. Shes cute, and I've enjoyed the few dramas I've seen her in. Would like to see her in leather, can't recall ever seeing that.

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That is one fine looking, young lady. Man so many to choose from....lucky!

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She did some kind of weird but provocative thing with my fave, Kuroki Meisa. Check it out on youtube.

Dunno, she's a bit boyish for my tastes. Just a slightly trimmer version of that ultra-annoying table tennis player.

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For relaxing times, make it Suntory times.

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Of the news issues which concern her most, Horikita says “the weather.” Not climate or global warming? “No, the weather, because that affects my day-to-day routine. If I have to do an outdoor shoot, and it’s raining, that makes a difference,” she says.

this is an awesome comment. she's not trying to be clever or pretentious - the interviewer asked her a boring and cliched question, and she came back with one of the most original answers Ive heard from any tarento. Good work girl.

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and she came back with one of the most original answers Ive heard from any tarento. Good work girl.

Finally there is a woman both smart and attractive, and on top of it talented...and you have discovered her. Please celebrate!

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Classy comments here guys.

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I agree with dbung.

It was a stupid interview question, not a stupid girl response. She answered honestly, and clearly takes what she does everyday seriously. She's young so she may not be an incredible actor, I don't know. But I've seen ploenty of models work there way into being good actors. All these ppl making fun of her for being pretty and going from modelling to acting and talking about the weather are sexist. Men saying she's pretty are just being honest.

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Actually this woman can act! Check out Tokyo Shonen or Koi Suru Nichiyoubi - Watashi Koi Shita, two completely different performances, but brilliantly played by Horikita.

She, Hanae Kan and Aoi Miyazaki are the best young actresses working in Japan today.

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I agree with dbung.

It was a stupid interview question, not a stupid girl response.

Thanks for agreeing. I have read a few interviews by this guy at young 'tarentos' and I find them all a bit strange. He kind of treats them like kids and its weird.

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This is one of the few Japanese actresses I like. She's not a complete idiot like most of them, she can act pretty well, and she's not some complete girly girl.

I liked her final comment about the weather. She didn't try to act pretentious, just down to earth.

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Nice. But better camera angle would really bring out her features.

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Y'mean, better camera angle would really bring out her talents.

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I've never cared much for Maki Horikita. There are plenty of other better-looking idols and "tarento".

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If she comes to my house, I will be happy to introduce Maki to a range of fine wines, spirits and sake. Lovely young lady.

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I don't know about anyone else, but I would love to have a drink with her, on me...

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