The character was introduced in 1982, created by Frank Miller and Chris Claremont as part of the Wolverine comic series and is recognisable by her short and spiky dark hair.
Yukio’s back story has also had a refresh in The Wolverine – she can foresee the deaths of others – and the striking red hair was a way to update the character and reflect how she might look living in Tokyo today, according to Fukushima.
“I was really surprised they decided on red hair, because I was all ready to cut my hair short, you know, like the comic,” she says.
By chance, the Japanese model-turned-actress had dyed her hair red for another job just before the final audition, giving director James Mangold (Walk The Line, 3:10 to Yuma) an idea.
“I think the first time I had met James my hair was dark, but then I walked in for the final audition and he said ‘Could you keep your hair colour for a while?’ I was terrified about how people would react. They also prepared for the black short-haired wig during a camera test.”
According to Fukushima, she did read the comics during the audition process, but Mangold gave her scope to play around with the character.
“I read the comic during casting and realised that it and the script were a bit different. James gave me a lot of freedom to create the character. When I got the part he said: “You’ve got to do it like you feel.
“It was fun to play with her personality and character, and was really challenging to play. James has tried to explore her personality a little bit deeper. She’s badass and a she’s a bodyguard, but she’s also really loyal, particularly to Mariko, and she has a lot of emotion in her.”
The Wolverine: Unleashed Extended Edition is out now on Digital HD, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD. Read our original review of the film here.