Showbiz Bad Boys (and Girls) on the Comeback Trail

Sawajiri Erika, Hagiwara Kenichi, Toda Naho

Actress Sawajiri Erika (23, photo left) is making a comeback but maybe not a return to Japan. After a string of critically acclaimed movie roles, her promising career was derailed in 2007 when a petulant performance at a movie PR event, and her refusal to say anything other than “Betsu ni..,” (Whatever…) gave her an image of arrogance. The following year she married the much older “hypermedia creator” Takashiro Tsuyoshi (45), since when the couple have spent most of their time living overseas. Last September her management agency decided they’d had enough and cut her loose.

But her agent in Japan revealed yesterday that Sawajiri has recently set up a private office in Spain, acquired agents in various countries, and will be launching a new website later this month. The first job she has lined up is a commercial gig in Japan for the Takano Yuri chain of beauty clinics. She is also expected to publish a book of photos in the spring, a collaboration with a British photographer friend of Takashiro’s. There is no word yet of any movie projects, though she is said to have received several offers and still hopes to work in Hollywood.
Earlier stories:
New Year Wedding for Erika-sama? (Dec. 30, 2008)
Celebrities in Damage Control Mode (Oct. 2, 2007)

Shoken Returns to Big Screen
Already making a return to the big screen, after an absence of 10 years, is actor Hagiwara Kenichi (59, photo center). At a pre-production event held in Tokyo yesterday, it was announced that he will play the lead in the movie “Naomi, Chijin no Ai.” Directed by Fukasaku Kenta (37), son of the legendary Fukasaku Kinji, the movie is an adaptation of a novel by the famous Tanizaki Junichiro (1886-1965). As the young heroine will need to do nude scenes, it was decided to audition actresses for the role. Hagiwara said, “I hope they don’t choose a Naomi who’s too young! But work is work.” Popularly known by nickname Shoken, the actor has a rough few years, with a history of arrests for a variety of offenses and a divorce in 2006. He started getting things back on track last autumn, returning to the recording studio for the first time in seven years.
Earlier stories:
Shoken Back in the Studio (Sep. 11, 2009)
Stars Breaking Up (Mar. 31, 2006)
Shoken Guilty As Charged (Jun. 29, 2005)
Shoken Arrested Again (Feb. 8, 2005)

Toda Naho Engaged to Doctor
Actress Toda Naho (35, photo right) is engaged to a Tokyo-based doctor (35), it was revealed yesterday. Previously romantically linked with Major League baseball star Matsui Hideki until the split in 2006, the actress met the new love in her life last summer. They started dating in September, he proposed on Christmas Eve and the couple officially got engaged at the end of February. They are expected to get married within the year and Toda is said to be planning to continue her acting career. One of her earliest TV roles was as a young country doctor in the NHK morning soap opera “Ee Nyobo.”