Rinko Kikuchi, born Yuriko Kikuchi, January 6, 1981, is a Japanese actress. Kikuchi is the first Japanese actress to be nominated for an Academy Award in 50 years, for the 2006 movie Babel. She is also set to star in Guillermo del Toro's next movie, Pacific Rim.
Kikuchi was born in Minamigaoka, Hadano, Kanagawa. She debuted in 1999 under her birth name, Yuriko Kikuchi, with the Kaneto Shindo–directed film Ikitai. Soon after, in 2001, she starred in the celebrated Kazuyoshi Komuri–directed film Sora no Ana, which was featured across several international film festivals, including the Rotterdam Film Festival. In 2004, she appeared in the much-commended Katsuhito Ishii–directed film Cha no Aji, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival.
In 2006, she appeared in the critically acclaimed Alejandro González Iñárritu–directed film Babel, where she played Chieko Wataya, a deaf-mute teenage girl, in a role for which she received international attention and was nominated for numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She won several, such as the National Board of Review Award for Best Breakthrough Female Performance (tying with Jennifer Hudson) and the Gotham Award for Best Breakthrough. Kikuchi is also the fifth actress in Academy Award history to be nominated for an award for a role in which she does not speak a word. (The others were Jane Wyman, Patty Duke, Holly Hunter, and Samantha Morton.) Kikuchi has appeared in two Mamoru Oshii movies: 2008's The Sky Crawlers and Assault Girls (2009).