All posts tagged: hiroyuki sanada

‘Shogun’ Star Hiroyuki Sanada Reveals Finale’s Deeper Message

‘Shogun’ Star Hiroyuki Sanada Reveals Finale’s Deeper Message

[This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of FX’s Shōgun.] It’s easy to picture Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada gazing toward the horizon with a beatific sense of satisfaction over everything he has achieved with FX’s smash-hit miniseries Shōgun. His character, Lord Yoshii Toranaga, enjoys several such moments in the show’s 10th and last episode, A Dream of a Dream, as his patient, masterful strategizing finally yields precisely the outcome he desires: absolute power for himself and peace for all of Japan.  Sanada’s moment of career triumph is not dissimilar in its decade-spanning tirelessness (at least, in entertainment industry terms). He began performing nearly 60 years ago as a child in Japan, apprenticing under the legendary actor Sonny Chiba on the way to becoming a major local star, before breaking into Hollywood with roles in projects like The Last Samurai, Lost, The Wolverine, Avengers: Endgame, Bullet Train, John Wick: Chapter 4 and many others. But now, he is the star of what many analysts believe to be Disney‘s most-watched streaming series to date, a show that …

‘Shōgun’ Is Challenging Hollywood’s Most Revered Stereotype

‘Shōgun’ Is Challenging Hollywood’s Most Revered Stereotype

Most American audiences have probably never seen Hiroyuki Sanada without a sword in his hand. The illustrious Japanese actor has, since making his international film debut in 2003’s The Last Samurai, practically cornered the Hollywood market on playing yakuza bosses and samurai warriors. Look, there he is, facing off against Hawkeye. There he goes, defending John Wick. And, oh, who’s that guy Brad Pitt just brushed past aboard a bullet train? Sanada, again with a blade. It’s no surprise, then, that he wields a pair of katanas in his newest role as the star of FX’s Shōgun. “It’s in my DNA,” Sanada told me last month, grinning as he recounted his decades-long career of playing samurai. But his latest character, the imposing Lord Yoshii Toranaga, is possibly the actor’s most demanding one yet in Hollywood. Modeled after Tokugawa Ieyasu, the real-life figure who helped unify Japan, Toranaga is clever but stubborn, intimidating but warm—as dramatic a departure for Sanada as the show itself is for American television. An adaptation of James Clavell’s 1975 novel, Shōgun …

With ‘Shogun,’ Hollywood Icon Hiroyuki Sanada Takes On the Project of a Lifetime

With ‘Shogun,’ Hollywood Icon Hiroyuki Sanada Takes On the Project of a Lifetime

There’s surely no precedent for the career of Hiroyuki Sanada, which spans more than a dozen big-screen blockbusters and TV series including Westworld and Lost—all of which came after more than three decades of work in his native Japan. But this moment still feels seismic. For the first time in his nearly 60 years of acting, the Last Samurai breakout and John Wick: Chapter 4 scene-stealer topped the call sheet of a Hollywood production on FX’s Shōgun, the epic new adaptation of James Clavell’s landmark 1975 novel. (The first two episodes are now streaming on Hulu.) He received his first-ever producer credit on the show, painstakingly poring over every detail of the production’s lavish, nuanced portrait of feudal Japan. And he found himself giving a performance unlike any he’d given before. For fans of Sanada, most familiar for wielding swords opposite and dispensing wisdom to some of the town’s biggest stars, this marks a thrilling step forward. As the actor candidly reveals in our wide-ranging conversation, the roles available to a Japanese actor in American …