Naoko Mori Biography
Naoko Mori is a popular actress of Japanese origin who mainly appears in British TV shows. An aspiring singer, she was first cast in a West End musical and later decided to become an actress. She is best known for playing the role of Toshiko Sato in the British television series, ‘Torchwood’ and ‘the dorky Sarah’ in the hit BBC series, ‘Absolutely Fabulous’. Apart from this, she has also starred in the sci-fi fantasy series, ‘Doctor Who’ and played Nicola in the ‘Spice World’ movie. She was a voiceover actor in the Genji video game series. Her London upbringing proved useful in her acting career as she got several roles in the United Kingdom. She was selected to star in the BBC play, ‘Lennon Naked’, which was about John Lennon and she played the lead role of Yoko Ono. She subsequently appeared in many television series and movies, and later returned to the musical stage with ‘Avenue Q’. With this production, she established herself as a versatile actress. She currently works in the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan’s entertainment industries, calling herself an international actor.
- Naoko Mori was born on 29 November 1971 in Nagoya, Japan. Her father is Japanese-American while her mother is Ryukyuan. The family moved to New Jersey in the United Sates when Mori was four years old due to her father’s work. They returned to Japan after 6 years, only to move to London soon.
- Mori chose to stay in the UK instead of moving back to Japan with her parents because she wanted to complete her higher education. She went on to attend the Royal Russell School.
- She had to live by herself in London from a young age, which established her independence early in her life. Her father encouraged her to do many things on her own. This cemented her fearless attitude to life as she learnt to tackle everything by herself.
- Naoko Mori began her acting career while she was studying for her A-levels. She decided to audition for West End’s production of ‘Miss Saigon’ in London. She was cast in the role of Kim opposite John Barrowman and become the first Japanese to play a lead role at the West End. She took singing lessons for this musical.
- Her long-standing role as the best friend Sarah in the ABC sitcom ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ proved to be pivotal in her career as it exposed her to mainstream television. It remained a recurring character until 2011.
- She was next cast in a regular role in the hospital drama ‘Casualty’ in which she played Mie Nishikawa, the receptionist. She starred in this role from 1993 to 1994.
- She landed minor roles in various films, including the musical comedy ‘Spice World’ (1997), the thriller ‘Running Time’ (1997) and the musical drama ‘Topsy Turvy’ (1999). She also had a minor role of a Japanese hacker in the film ‘Hackers’ in 1995.
- She found a lot more roles in various TV series, including ‘Thief Takers’ (1997), ‘Bugs (1998), ‘Psychos’ (1999), ‘Judge John Deed’ (2001)’, ‘Murder in Mind’ (2002), ‘Spooks’ (2002), ‘Mile High’ (2003), and ‘Powers’ (2004).
- In the BBC docu-drama, ‘Hiroshima’, (2005) directed by Paul Wilmshurst, Mori was cast in a major role. The movie also involved reenactments of the atomic bombing in 1945 using firsthand accounts of the eyewitnesses who are alive. The film went on to win three BAFTA awards and an Emmy.
- Mori also started working as a voice actor for video games from 2005. She voiced the role of Shizuka for ‘Genji: Dawn of the Samurai’ (2005), Mai Hem in ‘Perfect Dark Zero’ (2005), and return as Shizuka in ‘Genji: Days of the Blade’.
- In 2005, Mori was cast in the hit BBC series ‘Doctor Who’ as Dr. Sato in the episode ‘Aliens of London’. Though this was a minor role, the popularity of the series ensured that she became a familiar face. The producer Russell Davies was particularly impressed by her performance and decided to cast her in ‘Torchwood’.
- She was recast as Dr. Toshiko Sato in ’Torchwood’, a British sci-fi TV series which is a spin-off of ‘Doctor Who’ and it aired from 2006 to 2011. The show starred Christopher Eccleston and this became Mori’s most popular role as she was a recurring character.
- From 2008 to 2010, she only worked in the movie, ‘Maneater’ (2009). The movie directed by Michael Emanuel didn’t fare well either commercially or critically.
- She eventually returned to the big stage with the production, ‘The West End,’ in November 2006. She was cast as Christmas Eve in ‘Avenue Q’, a role she took over from Ann Harada. She went on to play this character until April 2007.
- In 2010, she portrayed Yoko Ono in the BBC Four production, ‘Lennon Naked’, a biographical movie focusing on John Lennon’s life. Her co-actor Christopher Eccleston essayed the role of Lennon. The film was premiered in London, United States, and Australia.
- From 2011 to 2015, Mori starred in many supporting roles in different movies and TV serials, including ‘Private Practice’ (2011), ‘Three Inches’ (2011), ‘Vexed’ (2012), and ‘The Revolting World of Stanley Brown’ (2012).
- In 2015, she was cast in ‘Everest’ (2015). She played the role of Yasuko Nambo and starred opposite Keira Knightley, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, and Josh Brolin. Mori called this one of the most challenging and immersive roles of her career. The movie was shot in Nepal and Italy, and chronicled the lives of Everest explorers.
- In 2015, she starred in comedy miniseries, ‘You, Me and the Apocalypse’. She joined the musical ‘On the Town’ which was the directorial debut of Drew McOnie in 2017.
- She was a voice actor in ‘Big Hero 6: The Series’, an American animated TV series. She voiced the role of ‘Momakase’ in the episode titled, ‘Food Fight’ (2018).
- Naoko Mori is most famous as Dr. Toshiko Sato in ‘Torchwood’, a Doctor Who spinoff. Her impressive cameo in the ‘Doctor Who’ episode, ‘Aliens of London,’ ensured that she bagged a bigger role in the spinoff. Her role as a scientist in the Torchwood Institute's extraterrestrial-battling team was lauded by many.
- Her role as Yasuko Nambo in the biological adventure movie ‘Everest’ (2015) was appreciated by critics across the world. She played an experienced amateur mountain climber who reaches the summit but dies on her way down. The film was screened at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival and was a commercial success worldwide.
- Naoko Mori is currently unmarried and remains happily single. There were many speculations of her dating various people, but she hasn’t confirmed any of those.
- As a Japanese Buddhist, she is an avid follower of Buddhism. Mori has confessed that she identifies and agrees with Buddhism. She prefers how the religion does not dictate one’s life but is more of a philosophy. She admires the Dalai Lama and also follows the writings of the Chinese philosopher, Confucius.
- Naoko Mori initially wanted to become either a pro golfer or an air hostess. However, she later decided that she wanted to become a classical singer and started taking singing lessons.
- She has been collecting ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs from all over the world from the hotels that she has stayed in. She has over a hundred of them and continues to increase her fascinating collection.
- She loves reading, and her favorite authors include Haruki Murakami and David Sedaris.
How To Cite
People Also Viewed