THE YOUNG GAL! Actress Machiko Naka Answers Questions About Her Toho Days!

Actress Machiko Naka in October 2015. Photo © Brett Homenick.

Machiko Naka, born on October 12, 1936, is an accomplished actress who has appeared in many Toho films throughout the years. She was a regular actress in the popular “Young Guy” series and appeared in such movies as the Crazy Cats film Las Vegas Free-for-All and The Battle of Okinawa (directed by Kihachi Okamoto). Godzilla fans know Ms. Naka as the actress who played Ichiro’s mother in Godzilla’s Revenge, but her SFX credits include appearances in the ground-breaking Ultra Q and Ultra Seven series for Tsuburaya Productions as well as a recurring role on Kamen Rider Kuuga in 2000. Ms. Naka graciously answered Brett Homenick’s questions in a 2009 interview translated by Makoto Wakida.

Brett Homenick: How did you get started in the film industry?

Machiko Naka: I loved acting and practicing Japanese traditional dancing since I was a child. After I had graduated high school, the Toho movie company held an audition for the part of a schoolgirl that I managed to get. I wanted to study more about acting, so I entered the Takarazuka Music School, and in 1957 I was on my first stage in the Takarazuka Revue. I enrolled to be in their movie and TV programs. In 1960, the Toho company invited me to have an exclusive contract with them. I moved to Tokyo, and I accepted their offer.

BH: How did you get cast in Oru Kaiju Daishingeki (a.k.a. Godzilla’s Revenge)?

MN: Take a Course to Win a Name for Yourself (Japanese title: Shusse ko-su ni shinro o tore) was my first time in the Toho movies. In the series of “Young Guy” (Japanese title: “Wakadaishou series”) I regularly played the part of Yuzo Kayama’s younger sister, Teruko. In the series of “The Head of the Company”  (Japanese title: “Shacho series”) I acted as Hisaya Morishige’s daughter. At TBS Radio every morning for 15 minutes, I acted as a young sister for Keiju Kobayashi in “I Am a Free Office Worker” (Japanese title: Boku ha dokuritsu sarariman). After ten years of acting variously, the opportunity was given to me to have a role in Godzilla’s Revenge (Japanese title: All Kaiju Daishingeki).

BH: What are your memories of director Ishiro Honda?

MN: In his closing years, director Honda and I were living nearby, and I still have sweet memories of him and his wife taking a walk together.

BH: What direction did Mr. Honda give you in your scenes?

MN: He wasn’t the type of director that would give detailed instructions for my performance. He let me feel free to play my part. But I reckon that he always had his eye on me with a warm heart and care.

BH: What was Tomonori Yazaki, the actor who played the young boy Ichiro, like on and off the set?

MN: He acted obediently, and while he was off I remembered that he seemed to be a quiet child.

BH: Do you remember working with Yoshifumi Tajima and Chotaro Togin, who played the detectives?

MN: Yes, I remember working with them because Tajima and Togin were both actors of Toho movies.

BH: Even though you didn’t appear onscreen with them, did you work with Kenji Sahara or Hideyo Amamoto when the movie was being filmed?

MN: I didn’t work with Kenji Sahara as there wasn’t a scene to be taken together, even though he acted as my husband. And I didn’t work with Hideyo, either.

BH: How long did filming the movie last?

MN: If I am correct, I had a scene with the child (Ichiro) and a scene working in a Japanese-style inn. The filming only took place when I had to do my part.

BH: Do you have any other memories of shooting the movie that you’d like to share?

MN: The monster films were produced by Toho. They put a statue of Godzilla the size of a man in front of the entrance of their studio.

BH: What do you think of Oru Kaiju Daishingeki as a movie?

MN: I would like to ask you that question first. What do you think of that movie? (I have always enjoyed Godzilla’s Revenge, and I think it’s an underrated entry in the Godzilla series. – BH)

BH: An SFX television series you appeared in was Ultra Q (episode #22 “The Transformation”). What do you remember about your work on this show?

MN: I don’t remember having a part in Ultra Q.

BH: Later, you also appeared in the very popular Ultra Seven. What stories can you tell us about appearing on this program?

MN: I had several parts in that program. It was so enjoyable to do them.

BH: You also acted in the recent TV series Kamen Rider Kuuga. How did you become involved with this show?

MN: I acted as the mother (of the character Hikari Enokida, played by Kaori Mizushima) in Kamen Rider Kuuga for several episodes but not so regularly. Toei Television had offered this part for me to take.

BH: What are some of your memories of acting in this series?

MN: It was exciting to work with Jou Odagiri (a.k.a. Joe Odagiri) and Shingo Katsurayama. I was glad to have the chance to co-star with actors who did not belong to Toho in this series. When the Masked Rider filming had ended, I was surprised to have a chance to work with Jou Odagiri in another film.

BH: Do you have any closing comments?

MN: I am very happy and very thankful to know that many of you have seen the movies I have taken part in. I also appreciate (your) sending me a heart-warming e-mail far away from the States.

As Ultraman is still filmed, I hope I could have the opportunity to have a part (in the series) which would fit me. By your support I will be able to keep acting on. Thank you so much.

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