“Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has made London-born actress Daisy Ridley a global superstar. But between filming that movie and returning to the big screen in its sequel, 24-year-old Ridley has made an English language version of Only Yesterday, a 1991 classic by Japanese animators, Studio Ghibli.
She and Slumdog Millionaire actor Dev Patel provide the voices for young lovers Taeko and Toshio, who Patel calls “animation royalty”.
Since its foundation in 1985 by director Hayao Miyazaki, Tokyo-based Studio Ghibli has dominated Japanese anime, and received five Academy Award nominations. Its global commercial successes include 2001’s Spirited Away and 2004’s Howl’s Moving Castle.
Two years ago, the studio announced it would take a hiatus to mark Miyazaki’s retirement, but it’s now releasing three projects – When Marnie Was There, also released this month, The Red Turtle, a co-production that won a jury prize at this year’s Cannes film festival and Only Yesterday.
Noting that the original Only Yesterday was made a quarter of a century ago, the year before she was born, Ridley describes herself as “obsessed with Japanese culture in general”.
“My mum took me to watch Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away and I was blown away.
“I was watching one of them again recently and I thought, ‘I really want to do one of these films’. Honestly, I swear this is how it happened – Studio Ghibli were looking for the English-language Taeko at the same time, and so I ended up recording a couple of auditions. Here we are now and I couldn’t be more thrilled…”