Rila Fukushima had a seemingly inauspicious experience on her first major modeling job, the spring 2004 D&G campaign. Fukushima, who grew up in Tokyo and didn’t speak much English at the time, was asked to color her raven waist-length mane blonde. Something was lost in translation, and she ended up with fried, falling-out locks—and an item on the New York Post’s Page Six.
“My neighbor was like, ‘Hey, you’re in the paper!’ ” she recalls. “I said, ‘But I didn’t commit any crime.’ ”
Now Fukushima is embarking on her next chapter: acting. She will appear in this summer’s big-budget superhero flick The Wolverine as Yukio, a bodyguard who is sent on a mission to locate Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and bring him to her master. The part entailed three weeks of intense stunt training including sword work and fistfighting because, as Fukushima puts it, “Yukio is a badass.” It also required Fukushima to dye her hair mulberry—after she had gone back to her real color, believing it would give her more credibility. “I thought, I want to act, and I have blonde hair—it’s like going to a restaurant with long fake nails and asking to be a waitress,” she says. “And then I get red hair in this film. I thought, Again?!”
Photo: Lauren Dukoff