Well-honed acting and a warm human nature. The body of work of Kagawa Kyoko: "The actress who didn't behave like a movie star"
Despite a magnificent career defined by appearances in the renowned films by acclaimed directors, Kagawa never exuded the image of a movie star nor seemed unapproachable. She always politely and sincerely responded to interviews. She was undoubtedly an actress first, and a movie star second.
In 1949, Kagawa submitted an entry to a newspaper publisher's recruitment project for new actors. She passed and joined Shintoho. In those days it was natural to belong exclusively to a film studio and in just three years she turned freelance with a desire to freely choose the works in which she appeared. As a result, she ended up working with many directors beyond the confines of a production company.
The rigorous direction of "Are you reacting?" from director Mizoguchi Kenji for her performance of Osan in "A Story from Chikamatsu" (a.k.a. "The Crucified Lovers") opened her eyes to acting. Her well groomed image was perfect for the role of Kyoko, the youngest child who displayed affection for her parents in "Tokyo Story." It is said director Ozu Yasujiro singled her out by name. For Kurosawa Akira's "Red Beard," she threw herself into the role of the terrifying madwoman. She appeared in five of Kurosawa's works including his final film "Madadayo." She played the daughter opposite Tanaka Kinuyo in Naruse Mikio's "Mother." In this rare comedy by Naruse, Kagawa demonstrated herself to be a skilled comedienne. She was also involved with the works of aspiring independent professionals such as Ieki Miyoji's "Tomoshibi" and Yamamoto Satsuo's "Ningen no Kabe." Acting in Imai Tadashi's "Himeyuri no To" aroused in her a stronger desire for peace leading to her taking part in anti-war activities.
As she grew older, roles playing mothers increased, but she was once again reminded of the scope of acting by performing the role of Isa, a mother with a fierceness to devote herself to her son who changed as a result of an accident, in Kumai Kei's "Shikibu Monogatari."
In recent years Kagawa has increasingly responded to the requests from young filmmakers who look up to her career. "Tokyo Rendezvous" is the directorial debut of Ikeda Chihiro. It is a role that brings the memory of war to the film. In a recent short film anthology, "Moruerani no Kiri no Naka," she plays an enigmatic woman in a somewhat fantastical episode. Her acting and warm human nature honed by the masters of the golden age of cinema impart a rich dignity to the film. Her long career as an actress has resulted in a strikingly varied body of work that should be fully appreciated.