Rinko Kikuchi (菊地 凛子 Kikuchi Rinko) (born Yuriko Kikuchi (菊地 百合子 Kikuchi Yuriko); January 6, 1981) is a Japanese film actress. She was the first Japanese actress to be nominated for an Academy Award in 50 years, for her work in Babel (2006). Kikuchi’s other notable films include Norwegian Wood (2010), which screened in competition at the 67th Venice Film Festival and Guillermo del Toro’s science fiction action film Pacific Rim (2013). For her role in the drama film Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2014), Kikuchi received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead.Kikuchi was born on January 6, 1981, in Hadano, Kanagawa, the youngest of three children. She was discovered by a talent agent on the street at the age of 15.
Kikuchi 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 festivals, including the Rotterdam Film Festival. In 2004, Kikuchi appeared in the well-received Katsuhito Ishii film The Taste of Tea, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival.
In 2006, Kikuchi 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 with Jennifer Hudson) and the Gotham Award for Breakthrough Actor.
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