Remaking any film could prove daunting, but that's especially true when said film is Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru, one of the most acclaimed dramas from the most celebrated Japanese filmmaker of all time. Living presents a new take on the 1952 classic, adapted by screenwriter and Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro and starring Bill Nighy.
Like Ikiru before it, Living centers on an aging civil servant, Mr. Williams (Nighy), who receives a dire diagnosis that forces him to adopt a new lease on life. For their work, Nighy and Ishiguro each earned their first-ever nominations for Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay, respectively, at the 95th Oscars.
"I just got lucky," Nighy said during an Academy-hosted Q&A about how the role came to him. The actor attended a dinner party with Ishiguro and producer Stephen Woolley, where the writer shared his dream of "marrying the atmosphere and message of the original with what they call Englishness."
"I'm sure there are characters like Mr. Williams in every culture, but we always take the blame for it," he deadpanned. "That complex set of rules about what you're allowed to express and what you're not allowed to express... From an acting point of view, it gets to be compelling or compulsive because I'm required to express quite a lot with not very much."
Even with Ishiguro and Nighy onboard for the remake, director Oliver Hermanus says that remaking Ikiru felt "dangerous." "I used to tease Ishiguro when we were making the film," he laughed. "I said to him that if anyone hated us for this, I would just stand behind him and he would take all of the bullets."
Watch the full Academy Conversation below for more insight into how Living was made.