Japanese actress Yoko Maki is known to American audiences for her role of Yoko in the America remake “The Grudge” (2004), opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar. She also had a bit part in “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” (2006). In her native country, Maki has appeared in many films and television series, including “The Princess Blade” (2001), “Battle Royale II” (2003), “Veronika Decides to Die” (2005), “Watashitachi no Kyokasho” (2007), “SP” (2007) and “Ryōmaden” (2010).
Childhood and Family:
Yoko Maki was born on October 15, 1982, in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. In November 2008, she declared she had been married to a man not in the Japanese show business. She has also announced she is expecting a baby.
Veronika Decides to Die
Yoko Maki had her first taste in front of the film camera at age 19 when she landed the role of Miki Kondo on “Drug” (2001), a Japanese drama directed by Hirosi Sugawara. She quickly followed it up with a supporting turn as Aya in the Japanese action movie “The Princess Blade” (also 2001). In 2002, she ventured to stage with a praised performance in “Cross,” which was directed by Keishi Nagatsuka. She then appeared in the Third Stage Show series production of “This Time It's Real,” which was directed by Kyoichi Itagaki. Maki returned to features in 2003 when she was cast as Maki Souda, a technical wizard, in the action thriller “Battle Royale II,” a sequel to the 2000 film “Battle Royale,”
2004 saw Maki with a small role in “Kamikaze Girls,” which was based on the novel of the same name by Novala Takemoto, and star in the Japanese television film “Toride naki mon.” She also appeared in the horror TV film “Suiyô puremia: sekai saikyô J horâ SP Nihon no kowai yoru.” The same year, she portrayed a nurse in the Masayuki Ochiai directed horror film “Infection,” starring Koichi Sato and Masanobu Takashima, and portrayed Gang-ja Chun in the Japanese award winning film “Break Through,” directed by Kazuyuki Izutsu and starring Shun Shioya, Sosuke Takaoka and Erika Sawajiri.
It was also in 2004 that the actress made her Hollywood debut in “The Grudge,” a remake of the Japanese film “Ju-on: The Grudge,” which was directed by Takashi Shimizu and starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, KaDee Strickland, Clea DuVall and Bill Pullman. Although the reviews were mixed, the film enjoyed success at the box office where it grossed over $187 million against a budget of $10 million.
Maki appeared in three films in 2005. She first worked with Suzuki Matsuo, Jô Odagiri and Miwako Ichikawa in “In the Pool,” for director Satoshi Miki, and played Yui Ito in the Japanese comedy “Summer Time Machine Blues,” starring Eita, Yoshiaki Yoza and Daijiro Kawaoka. She also portrayed Towa in the drama “Veronika Decides to Die,” which was directed by Kei Horie. The next year, she portrayed Ritsuko Tachibana in the TV miniseries “Jikô keisatsu” and Mari Toudaiji in the television film “A Delicious Way to Kill,” opposite Nobue Iketani and Inuko Inuyama. On the big screen, she costarred with Toshihiro Wada and Riko Narumi in the horror film “The Vanished,” by director Makoto Tanaka, and played the role of Chieko Kawabata in Miwa Nishikawa's film “Sway.” She also had a featured role in “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” the third installment in the “The Fast and the Furious” film series. Directed by Justin Lin and starring Lucas Black, Bow Wow and Sung Kang, the film received mixed reviews from the critics.
In 2007, Maki played roles on the Japanese television series “Watashitachi no Kyokasho” and “SP.” She went on to appear in the TV comedy series “Loss:Time:Life” (2008) and episodes of “Michiko and Hatchin” (2008), where she provided the voice of Michiko Malandro. Also in 2008, she acted in the TV film “6 Jikango ni kimi wa shinu” and costarred with Satomi Ishihara and Arina Watanabe in the comedy “Flying Rabbits,” which was helmed by Takahisa Zeze. In 2009, she starred with Tadanobu Asano and Kazuki Kitamura in the film “Dumbeast.”
Maki next had a recurring role on the television series “Ryōmaden” (2010), starring Masaharu Fukuyama. She also reprised her role of Eri Sasamoto on “SP: The motion picture yabô hen” (2010) and “SP: The motion picture kakumei hen” (2011). Sge is set to portray roles on the upcoming films “Yubiwa wo hametai” (2011), “Genji monogatari” (2011) and “Hard Romanticker” (2012).