Fourteen-year-old Yuya Yagira, the surprise winner of the best actor award at the 57th Cannes Film Festival, was able to take possession Wednesday of what he called his “first ever” trophy.
“There is nothing happier than this as I have never received a trophy until now,” Yagira said after being handed the golden trophy by director Hirokazu Koreeda, who received the prize on the boy’s behalf during Saturday’s awards ceremony in Cannes.
Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, the young and relatively unknown actor who only entered show business in July 2002, said, “It now seems real to me.” He added that he aims to become a fine actor.
He also elicited laughter when, responding to a question of where he plans to display the trophy, he replied, “Can I take it home?”
Yagira is the first Japanese to win a best actor award at Cannes and also the youngest winner of the award in the festival’s history.
He won acclaim for his performance as the eldest of siblings in the movie “Nobody Knows,” which is based on the true story of four children with different fathers who try to live by themselves in a Tokyo apartment after being abandoned by their mother.
Yagira was up against actors in 19 films screened at the festival, including “The Ladykillers” and “2046.”
“The Ladykillers” stars veteran Hollywood actor Tom Hanks, while “2046” stars Hong Kong’s Tony Leung, winner of the best actor award in 2000 for “In the Mood for Love.”
A third-year junior high school student in Tokyo, Yagira has appeared in a commercial and TV dramas. He is currently appearing in the TV Asahi drama “Denchi ga Kirerumade” (“Until the battery runs down”).
Renowned director Quentin Tarantino, president of the film festival jury, praised the boy, saying Yagira’s performance had made the strongest impression on him.
Since the teenage actor returned to Japan for school exams after the film was officially screened, Koreeda gave a speech on his behalf at Saturday’s awards ceremony.
“Nobody Knows” will be shown in Japanese theaters from late July.
Some notable recipients of the best actor award at Cannes have been Jack Lemmon, Marlon Brando and Paul Newman.
Among other winners at this year’s festival was Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung, who took the best actress award, while the film “Old Boy,” made by South Korean director Park Chan Wook, garnered the Grand Prix award.
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