Meg Kubota plays Tsumo Moriyama, the mother of Dr Nagai’s wife, Midori. After the atomic bombing which claimed the life of Midori, Tsumo lived with Dr Nagai in his tiny wooden hut, Nyokodo, where she became a mother for their children and a carer for the bed-ridden Dr. Nagai.
In her performance, London based actress, Meg Kubota captures the quiet strength and dignity of a woman who survived the unthinkable. Below she shares some of her thoughts and her approach to the role…
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I am a Japanese actress based in the UK and I have been working as an actress in this country for a very long time now. I trained at Arts Educational Drama School in London and since leaving, I have been very fortunate to work in theatre, film, television and radio drama. I have also been the voice of characters in animation and video games; most recently Mr Bean, the animation.
How did you prepare for the role of Tsumo Moriyama? What kind of research did you do and how did you get into character?
I watched footage of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings wherever I could find them, and read and watched interviews of people who lived through them. I looked at many photos of the effects of the bomb, which was an harrowing experience in itself. I also read up on Takashi Nagai and some of his writing, though, my character was not mentioned much at all, so I had to make decisions about my character based on what little knowledge I had and what was in the script.
In the film, Yuna Shin plays your daughter Midori and the scenes with you together feel so authentic, like you are truly mother and daughter, did this happen naturally or did you work at it?
Yuna was such a lovely actress to work with, so the task was not difficult. She is so delightful, I don’t think anyone can dislike her or feel anything but fondness for her. However, in order to create that depth in our relationship, I drew up a lot of memory about our past.
With the exception of Takashi Nagai (Leo Ashizawa) your character is the one that undergoes the greatest change, aging 20 something years. How did this affect your performance?
I wanted to her to age as authentically as possible, so I tried to make the shift as smooth as possible. I changed my physicality and vocal quality without making it a caricature.
What has been the most challenging aspect of the role for you?
Probably trying to keep track of which stage of the character’s life we were filming at any given moment (the film was not shot in order of sequence).
Do you feel this story is relevant for today, and if so how?
Yes definitely. It is most relevant, with what is happening in the world today; the Russia and Ukraine conflict and religious extremism threatening the rest of the world. There still seems to be so much hatred in the world today, with misunderstanding and fear. We need to constantly remind ourselves of the past; about what the world has been through, so we do not make the same mistakes again. And to witness what the courage and clarity of thought of one man can do.
Finally, what other projects have you been or are currently working on?
Currently, I am rehearsing for a play in London called Harajuku Girls which will open at the Finborough Theatre on 24th February, running until 21st March.