Rinko Kikuchi (菊地 凛子 Kikuchi Rinko), born Yuriko Kikuchi (菊地 百合子 Kikuchi Yuriko) January 6, 1981 in Hadano, Kanagawa) is a Japanese film actress. She is the first Japanese actress to be nominated for anAcademy Award in 50 years, for her work in Babel (2006). She also starred in Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 science fiction action film Pacific Rim.
She made her debut in 1999, under her birth name, Yuriko Kikuchi, with the Kaneto Shindo film Will to Live. Soon after, in 2001, she starred in the celebrated Kazuyoshi Komuri film Sora no Ana (空の穴?), which was featured at several international film festivals, including the Rotterdam Film Festival. In 2004, she appeared in the well-received Katsuhito Ishii film The Taste of Tea, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival.
In 2006, she was chosen by Japanese film producer Yoko Narahashi for the Alejandro González Iñárritu film Babel, where she played Chieko Wataya, a deaf-mute teenage girl, for which she received international attention including a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.She won several awards, such as the National Board of Review Award for Best Breakthrough Female Performance (tying withJennifer Hudson) and the Gotham Award for Breakthrough Actor.
She is the fifth actress in Academy Award history to be nominated for an award for a role in which she does not speak. She has appeared in two Mamoru Oshii movies: The Sky Crawlers (2008) and Assault Girls (2009). She starred in Rian Johnson’s second film, The Brothers Bloom (2009), which was her first full English-language feature. Though she plays a main character, she only speaks three words in the film; her character is said to only know three words of English.
In 2010, she was cast as Naoko in Tran Anh Hung’s adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood. In March 2011, Kikuchi was added to the cast of 47 Ronin, the first English-language adaptation of the Chushingura legend, Japan’s most famous tale of samurai loyalty and revenge.She described her villain character to US Glamour as “a real bitch.” In 2013, she starred in the Guillermo del Toro film Pacific Rim, fine-tuning her English by watching the US TV seriesThe Voice. In 2014, she starred in the David Zellner film Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter.