Getting Direct With Directors...
Hideo Nakata directing Naomi Watts on the set of The Ring Two
No.29: Hideo Nakata

Although he's worked in a variety of genres in his native Japan, director Hideo Nakata made his name with horror franchise Ringu. When Hollywood asked him to remake the second instalment for western audiences, he jumped at the chance with The Ring Two. Here, he tells us why the critics don't count, as well as revealing a surprising tendency towards melodrama.

Why did you become a director?

I began as a real movie buff and I just wanted to go on the other side of the screen. I became an assistant director at a film studio and then of course I gradually wanted to become a film director.

If you weren't a filmmaker, what would you be?

Either a journalist or engineer. I used to major in engineering and then I changed my major to journalism.

What other director would you like to see at work?

Tim Burton. I like his style.

What was the last movie that you paid to see?

The Ring Two because I wanted to see it with a real audience.

Hideo Nakata's The Ring Two

What was the last movie you walked out of?

Oh... Walked out? No, I usually watch everything until the end.

Do you believe in God?

Hmm... Yes and no. I believe in some higher power, which created the universe.

Who's the most famous person in your contacts book?

That's a difficult question... I would say Naomi Watts.

What's your favourite movie quote?

It was in Day For Night [1973] by François Truffaut. I can't remember the line exactly but an Italian actress [Valentina Cortese] says to Jean-Pierre Aumont that it is only when the movie shoot is over that you begin to feel like they were your family and it ends too quickly.

Truffaut's Day For Night

Which filmmaker do you consider the most underrated?

Very difficult. Can I name a Japanese director? It's Makino Masahiro. He made a lot of Yakuza movies. He began directing movies when he was like 20, so he was working from the 1930s up until the 1970s.

And which filmmaker do you consider the most overrated?

Hmm. No comment.

Who's the biggest pain in the arse you've ever worked with?

I don't know. I mean sometimes I found certain actors very difficult to work with back when I was as an assistant director. But I usually become close friends with them after we've had some disagreements, or arguments, so I couldn't name a name. I can't.

What's the dumbest question you've ever been asked?

Dumbest question? When a journalist quotes another journalist it can be dumb. You know there was a journalist yesterday asking some question - I don't remember it, but he quoted The New York Times review of The Ring Two, which was, let's say, pretty negative. I forget the question but that's dumb.

Do you believe in test screenings?

Yes, I enjoy the process. I like it.

How seriously do you take reviews?

I can't read them all, but for Japanese movies, I'll read as many as I possibly can. But for American movies, like The Ring Two, I have to say reviews don't matter that much - especially for horror movies. It's because the majority of my audience don't read reviews. All I'm concerned about is the real people's reaction. You know, critics don't pay money to watch these movies so their reviews don't matter to me.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Well, when I was an assistant director I really had a difficult time, then someone told me, "There is no movie in history which never ended." I mean you may feel really depressed because the whole situation is so very difficult and overwhelming, but there will be a time that comes when you are done with the movie.

And the worst?

I can't remember. Maybe I want to forget.

What's your biggest regret?

I try my best in terms of my professional life. I always try to do my best so I don't have to regret. So I have no regrets.

There are five minutes left till the end of the world - what do you do?

Try to contact all my old friends.

Hitchcock's Rebecca

Which performer would you love to work with?

Jennifer Connelly.

What film makes you want to spit?

Spit? No.

What are your three favourite films and why?

Letter From An Unknown Woman [1948, dir. Max Ophuls], Rebecca [1940, dir. Alfred Hitchcock] and How Green Was My Valley [1941, dir. John Ford]. I love melodramas. I always feel more related to those female protagonists who are in an agony situation, dealing with genuine love but something becomes an obstacle and she just can't continue.

What do you think of Norman Wisdom?


Calling The Shots homepage