Hiroyuki Sanada Leads Disney’s ‘Shogun’

TOKYO – Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada headlines FX’s latest production, “Shogun,” a 10-episode historical drama adapted from James Clavell’s 1975 bestselling novel. The series is currently available for streaming on Disney+.

Set in Japan in the year 1600, the series revolves around Lord Yoshii Toranaga (Sanada), whose life and reign face imminent threats from political adversaries during a century-defining civil war.

Sanada, at a recent press conference held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ), expressed his enthusiasm for the project, describing it as an enjoyable first experience. Serving as both the lead actor and producer, he described the production as “amazing.”

“I thought this is a great story to introduce our culture to the world, so I tried to make [it as] authentic as possible as a producer. Luckily, we could hire Japanese samurai period drama specialists for each department,” he said.  

The respected veteran actor considers this undertaking a significant leap forward for himself, the industry, and Japanese filmmakers and actors.

“I believe it’s a big step toward the future, so I hope people enjoy this show,” he remarked.

His admiration for Tokugawa Ieyasu, upon whom his character Toranaga is largely based in the series, has been a driving force for him to accept the role.

“The great achievement that he had accomplished should be introduced to the rest of the world because we are facing the current situation with lots of worries and struggles. Human beings do not really seem to change, but Ieyasu completely halted the age of battle and created a very peaceful world for many hundreds of years. That type of hero is exactly what we need now,” he declared.  

Sanada hopes that viewers will find something valuable in the series.

“I do hope that people receive something important and think about it, being able to utilize something they receive for day-to-day life,” he said.

His dedication to showcasing Japanese culture authentically stems from a lifelong involvement in period dramas, where he learned from seasoned colleagues. Reflecting on this, Sanada expressed his desire to share and pass the baton to younger generations.

“Since I was a child, I have been part of Japanese period dramas, learning much from my seniors. I have always wanted to share and pass the baton onto my juniors,” he shared.

“I feel like this is my way of saying thank you to the industry. And if talented younger generations want to work and try their hand overseas, I would love to be a bridge; I think that is one of my missions,” he added.

Sanada also highlighted the importance of teamwork in bringing the series to life.

“I think if people work together, no matter how hard and difficult, we can make miracle together,” he said.

“Shogun,” created for television by Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks, features an outstanding cast, including Cosmo Jarvis and Anna Sawai. - Florenda Corpuz