Going Places

Going Places

Movie star, TV actress, voice talent, cocktail judge, “Best Leathernist”—Maki Horikita is one busy star


Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on January 2010



It’s the end of a hectic day for Maki Horikita. The 21-year-old actress has just finished judging the “Suntory Cocktail Awards” at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Roppongi. Twenty-four drinks were chosen for the final round. “I’m not a big drinker, so I just sipped a little of each one,” she says shyly, her cheeks glowing a pinkish hue.

Born in Tokyo, Horikita got into showbiz at age 14 almost by accident. A talent scout who had seen her out and about came knocking at her door.

“They wanted me to audition for a movie, even though I had never done any acting. My parents were very surprised when I passed the audition and got the role. They weren’t really sure I could make it in show business. It wasn’t until I started to make a lot of appearances in magazines and on TV that they finally accepted it as my career.”

That was 2003 and the movie was the sci-fi romp Cosmic Rescue. Since then, the busy actress has appeared in a stream of movies and TV dramas, winning several awards along the way. She was chosen as best newcomer at the 2008 Japan Academy Awards for Always: Sunset on Third Street and best actress at the 2008 Television Academy Awards for Hanazakari no Kimitachie. In 2007, Vogue Nippon named her as one of its Women of the Year, and last autumn, she was chosen as “Best Leathernist” for looking good in leather.

On TV, Horikita has appeared in commercials for such companies as NTT DoCoMo, Shiseido, Honda, Suntory, Fujifilm, Nintendo and many more. “The best thing about my job is that I get to know my own weaknesses,” she says. “Everyone can see my work, so there is the pressure. I feel motivated to work harder and to grow.”

Horikita’s vocal chords are in demand, too. She’s done voice acting for the Doraemon film series and Professor Layton videogames (as Luke), the most recent of which was December’s animated feature, Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva.

“I really love the video-game series,” she says.

“The challenging part is that I have to act out the child’s cuteness, carelessness and naïveté through my voice.”

Horikita has just completed her most ambitious project to date—a movie in which nearly half of her dialogue is in English. Set for release in the spring, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac is directed by Hans Canosa (Conversations With Other Women) and co-stars Anton Yelchin (of Star Trek and Terminator Salvation fame) and Emma Roberts (Nancy Drew). Horikita plays a student at an international school in Tokyo who loses four years of her memory after falling down a flight of stairs.

“Learning English was tricky at first; I had to get used to scripts that were written horizontally rather than vertically,” she recalls. “There was a lot of memorizing and I worked hard since I could not say ‘no’. I had some help from a dialogue coach, who was Japanese. Overall, it was a challenging few months, but I feel a sense of achievement.”

On the rare days when she’s not working, Horikita says she likes to indulge in her hobby of photography, go shopping in Shibuya, or just hang out at home. She keeps in touch with her fans on her blog throughout the day whenever she has time. When asked about the news issues that concern her most, Horikita says “the weather.” Climate or global warming? “No, the weather, because that affects my day-to-day routine. If I have to do an outdoor shoot and it’s raining, that makes a difference.”

Maki Horikita’s official site: www.horikita-collection.com.

Chris Betros is the editor of Japan Today (www.japantoday.com).