Delicately beautiful Japanese actress Youki Kudoh skyrocketed from obscurity to national fame in her native Japan in the early '80s. Talent agents discovered the then-12-year-old girl on the streets of Tokyo and recruited her for a singing career; seemingly within no time, she garnered a massive fan base as a pop sensation -- her country's equivalent of [[Performer~P301848~Britney Spears~britneyspears]] or [[Performer~P303385~Jessica Simpson~jessicasimpson]]. By her 22nd birthday, Kudoh had 11 albums to her credit and segued into acting on an international scale, alternating between arthouse-style independent films, such as the [[Performer~P95892~Jim Jarmusch~jimjarmusch]]-directed U.S. production [[Feature~V34211~Mystery Train~mysterytrain]] (1989), and buttered-popcorn fare, such as the 1997 Australian action thriller [[Feature~V155029~Heaven's Burning~heavensburning]].
Kudoh achieved much greater recognition in the States when she landed the covetable lead role of Hatsue Imada, the Japanese-American lover of reporter Ishmael Chambers ([[Performer~P31094~Ethan Hawke~ethanhawke]]) in [[Performer~P94310~Scott Hicks~scotthicks]]' meditation on WWII-era Japanese internment, [[Feature~V181150~Snow Falling on Cedars~snowfallingoncedars]] (1999). After scattered minor roles over the next several years, Kudoh followed up her impressive, multi-layered portrayal for [[Performer~P94310~Hicks~scotthicks]] with a performance as Pumpkin in [[Feature~V299116~Memoirs of a Geisha~memoirsofageisha]] (2005), director [[Performer~P278460~Rob Marshall~robmarshall]]'s follow-up to the 2002 blockbuster [[Feature~V272628~Chicago~chicago]]. In 2006, Kudoh hearkened back to A-list Tinseltown fare as the female lead in the action-filled [[Performer~P84650~Jackie Chan~jackiechan]]/[[Performer~P114685~Chris Tucker~christucker]] buddy comedy [[Feature~V339693~Rush Hour 3~rushhour3]]. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi