Maeda Atsuko: Pop Star and Actress Living Life Her Way

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Maeda Atsuko: Pop Star and Actress Living Life Her Way

Since leaving her position in the wildly popular idol troupe AKB48 in 2012, Maeda Atsuko has been exploring her range as an actor. In 2022 she appeared in the film version of a hit 2015 play as part of a star-studded cast. A talk with Maeda about her acting career and the challenges she faces as a working mother.
 
Playwright and director Nemoto Shūko, who writes and produces all the pieces for an eponymous monthly theater troupe, first presented her piece Motto chōetsu shita tokoro e (To a More Transcendent Place) in 2015. Recently, she also helped adapt it into a screenplay for the 2022 film version, which featured a star-studded cast including Maeda Atsuko, Kikuchi Fūma of the pop group Sexy Zone, and Chiba Yūdai.
 
The film’s director, Yamagishi Santa, who made a name for himself with the 2018 drama Bōkyaku no Sachiko (Forgetful Sachiko) and music videos for pop star Hoshino Gen, depicts the painful story of four women who struggle with the trials of love and their attraction to “bad boys,” using unexpectedly bold compositions and visual techniques.
 
In the film, one of the bad boys in question is struggling musician Reito (Kikuchi Fūma), who shows up out of the blue looking to room with Machiko, played by former AKB48 star Maeda Atsuko. He treats her with condescension and privilege, despite not even paying any rent or living expenses. Machiko eventually begins a romantic relationship with him, but is outraged to learn that his ex-girlfriend still sends him money every month.
 
“I like the worldview that Nemoto brings to her work,” says Maeda. “When I read the script, there wasn’t a single part that I didn’t get. The whole time I was acting, I was thinking ‘I bet this is what Nemoto felt.’ All the scenes full of anger and tears seemed to come from a much more emotional than rational space, so I told myself not to think with the head. How do you react to what your partner brings? We all have moments where we use our heads to think, like concentrating on work or hanging out with friends, but I think we also have others, like when you’re fighting with your partner, and you encounter this unknown part of yourself.”
 

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