Hiroyuki Sanada on the FX Drama’s Accuracy


In some ways, Hiroyuki Sanada has been preparing for Shōgun for decades. The veteran actor, familiar from projects including Sunshine and Bullet Train, took on a leadership role for the FX period drama — not just starring as Lord Yoshii Toranaga, but actively involving himself as a producer, with a focus on making sure the details of the 16th-century-set series were accurate. “That’s a big meaningful point to me,” he tells Consequence during a sit-down interview. “Why not just jump in and make it authentic?”

Based on the classic novel by James Clavell, Shōgun is technically a fictional story about a Westerner (Cosmo Jarvis) who washes up on Japanese shores just as the country faces a major political crisis. However, its inspiration hews closely to real historical figures from the time — and from childhood, Sanada was reading about this era. Not only that, but as an actor in historical dramas, he says, he’s played a number of the real-life samurai upon whom Shōgun characters were based — including Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shōgun historically and the inspiration for Toranaga.

“It was so familiar for me,” he says of the period. “We had a fictional novel and our original script, so I followed my script more than the real history. [But] that’s why we needed to be authentic, as much as possible, to make the story and characters believable.”

Shōgun is one of several high-profile projects Sanada has worked on over the last few years, all leaning on his background as a martial artist while ranging wildly in tone. Due to schedules and other global concerns, his casting in Shōgun preceded the filming of many of those roles: Sanada shot the recent remake of Mortal Kombat just prior to the pandemic, while his first project after lockdown was Bullet Train, which was shot prior to the advent of vaccinations. “We were scared, in the small train, fighting with the guys,” he says.

He followed Bullet Train up with his appearance in John Wick: Chapter 4, at which point he also had a schedule for production on Shōgun. So, “right after they killed me [in John Wick],” he laughs, he went to Vancouver for the long shoot, followed by post-production (“right after we finished all the ADR for SAG actors — into the strike.”)

Right after the SAG strike concluded, Sanada went to Australia to film Mortal Kombat 2, which he finished before Christmas 2024, leaving him free to focus on promoting Shōgun. “Great timing,” he says.

Read original article here.

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