Maeda Atsuko - NYLON Japan March 2014 scans and translation
Interview translation (excerpts)
Nylon: Did you want to meet the “Seventh Code” director, Kurosawa-san for a long time?
Atsuko: Yes. Though filming with him was the first time I thought, “This is really difficult…” (laughs). I even thought about quitting in the middle of it. But being able to realize that it was good for me to think like that was a big takeaway.
N: What made it so difficult?
A: Kurosawa-san is a really nice person, and he doesn’t have specific demands for me. There’s nothing specific acting-wise, but he naturally points out the unnecessary quirks I have and strips them away. And those would be things I was noticing myself too, so I’d be able to throw them away no problem. Because he’s a director like that, I had a hard time trying to fulfill his expectations.
N: I think of you as someone who doesn’t hide anything and keeps moving forward no matter what it’s for.
A: I guess I am now that you say that (laughs). I think of everything as the unknown world, so I try to approach anything without hesitation. Since I don’t have an appeal point like something I’m especially good at or a strong suit, I won’t know until I try.
N: Is that something you still haven’t found despite all the various activities you’ve done? Or is it more like you’re simply not bothering to search?
A: I think the worst thing would be to get stuck in a mold, so I don’t analyze myself. You told me earlier that I don’t hide anything, but I think that’s true of my usual self (laughs). My actions? Words? I don’t present myself in a false manner in any kind of setting. Except when in private, I never talk about work and I can’t talk passionately about acting (laughs).
N: You’ve publicly stated that you’re a competitive person in numerous interviews, but what type of competitive person are you?
A: It’s not that I want to be on top of somebody, but more like I don’t want to lose to myself. Whether it’s acting, singing, or facial expressions in photos, I get frustrated with myself.
N: You say that you don’t like yourself.
A: Yes. I like the way I live, but I don’t like myself. Though I don’t want to be someone else either. I just don’t accept/approve of myself (laughs).
N: You’re so stoic (laughs).
A: But if you ask me if I’m doing something about it, I’m not (laughs). I get angry at myself often. But someone who likes themselves to an appropriate extent is better than someone who doesn’t. That’s why it’s fun to listen to people who have self-confidence. In that sense, I haven’t really changed the way I feel about myself, but I have changed the way I feel about other people. When I was in AKB, the majority of jobs were with a limited group of people, like the members and the staff, but since I’ve been on my own, I’ve had more opportunities to interact with a lot of different kinds of people.
N: You’ve been working as Maeda Atsuko now. In some ways, you’re finally able to operate normally.
A: I’ve always been aware that I wasn’t in a normal place, so after graduation, I wanted to start being normal. But I became too conscious of normalcy that I’ve had times where I was like, “What’s normal?” (laughs) Now, I don’t really think about anything, so I think this current state may be what normal is.
N: What are the things that brought you to your current state?
A: Since acting became my main activity, I’ve been able to observe how actors and directors normally behave. Everyone says it’s the hardest to act normal. That’s why I thought about “What’s normal?” first. There should be a lot of examples of characters with distinguishing features/personalities, but I think you have to first understand what’s normal for you. At one point in time, when I would first meet someone, I would think, “How was I normally talking?” That’s how bad of a grasp I had on myself. I’ve been so busy that I didn’t know how to manage my free time. Now that I’m not so worried about how I spend my time, I’ve been able to just chill for 2-3 days (laughs).