You Only Live Twice : Mie Hama & Akiko Wakabayashi (1967)

Akiko Wakabayashi
Akiko Wakabayashi (若林 映子, Wakabayashi Akiko?, born August 26, 1939 in Ōta, Tokyo) is a Japanese actress, best known in English-speaking countries for her role as Bond girl, Aki in the 1967 James Bond movie You Only Live Twice. Prior to this, she made many movies in her native Japan, especially Toho Studio’s monster movies such as Dagora, the Space Monster and Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster (both of which were also released under various other titles).

When production of You Only Live Twice began, Wakabayashi was originally slated to play the role of Kissy Suzuki whilst her co-star Mie Hama played Suki, one of Tiger Tanaka’s top agents. When learning English proved to be a major hurdle to Hama, the women switched roles, with Hama now playing the smaller part of Kissy and Wakabayashi playing the larger part of Suki.

At her suggestion, the character of Suki was renamed to Aki. This is probably partly because in 1966, Woody Allen took the Japanese action film International Secret Police: Key of Keys (in which both Mie Hama and Wakabayashi starred), re-edited, re-dubbed, re-plotted, and renamed it What’s Up, Tiger Lily?. In the film, Wakabayashi’s character was “Suki Yaki” whereas her You Only Live Twice co-star Hama played “Teri Yaki”.

Wakabayashi made only one more film (and a guest TV appearance) before disappearing from both the big and small screen. In an interview in G-FAN magazine (No. 76), Wakabayashi said she retired from acting due to injuries sustained while making a movie.

Mie Hama
Mie Hama (浜 美枝, Hama Mie?, born November 20, 1943 in Tokyo, Japan) is a Japanese actress best known for her role as Kissy Suzuki in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice. Her first name is pronounced “Mee-eh”.

Hama was working as a bus fare collector when she was spotted by producer Tomoyuki Tanaka. Hama went on to become one of the most in-demand actresses in Japan. Notable appearances included Toho Studio’s monster movies such as King Kong Escapes. By the time she starred in You Only Live Twice, she had made more than 60 movies.

Hama was originally cast to play the character Aki (who was originally named Suki), and her co-star Akiko Wakabayashi was cast to play Kissy Suzuki. The two actresses were sent to London for 3 months, to be tutored in English. Hama and Wakabayashi switched roles, with Hama playing the smaller part of Kissy (although the character was in fact considered the main Bond girl); both voices were overdubbed in the final film anyway. And because of illness during filming, she was doubled in a diving scene by Diane Cilento, Sean Connery’s wife at the time.

In the June 1967 issue of Playboy Hama, along with Akiko Wakabayashi and several other actresses from “You Only Live Twice”, appeared nude in a memorable pictorial entitled “007’s Oriental Eyefuls”. Reportedly this pictorial caused a great deal of controversy in Japan.

Hama’s acting career slowed down in the 1970s. She has since become a media figure in Japan and an active environmentalist.

(Source : )

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