Hiroyuki Sanada

Hiroyuki Sanada MBE (真田 広之, Sanada Hiroyuki, 12 October 1960)[1] is a Japanese actor and martial artist. He is best known to international audiences for his roles as Genbu in Ninja in the Dragon's Den, Ryuji Takayama in Ring, Seibei Iguchi in The Twilight Samurai, Ujio in The Last Samurai, Kenji in Rush Hour 3, and Scorpion in Mortal Kombat.[2][3] His role as 'The Fool' in the Shakespeare play King Lear also gave him notable theatrical notice in the United Kingdom. In Japan, Sanada is also known for songs he recorded for movies he was in as well as songs he has performed for the public.[4]

Hiroyuki Sanada

真田 広之
Hiroyuki Sanada 2013 (cropped).jpg
Sanada at a SyFy digital press tour for a set interview for the tv show Helix on October 2013
Hiroyuki Shimozawa
(下澤 廣之)

(1960-10-12) 12 October 1960 (age 61)
Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan
Years active1965–present
Satomi Tezuka
(m. 1990; div. 1997)
Japanese name
Kanji真田 広之
Hiraganaさなだ ひろゆき
Katakanaサナダ ヒロユキ

He made his first major Hollywood appearance portraying Ujio in The Last Samurai, later appearing in such films as Speed Racer, The Wolverine, 47 Ronin, Life, Avengers: Endgame, Army of the Dead, and Bullet Train. He also had a recurring role on the HBO series Westworld from 2018 to 2020. Advoacting for authentic Japanese representation in Hollywood films, Sanada will serve as a producer of the upcoming Shōgun miniseries reboot on FX.

Life and careerEdit

Born in Tokyo, he was scouted by an entertainer while playing with the son of the actor Kokichi Takada who lived in the same condominium, and after working as a model for a magazine for young children, he joined the Himawari Theatre Group at the age of five. He made his film debut in 1966 in the ninkyo yakuza film Game of Chance (浪曲子守唄) starring Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba, reprising his role as Chiba's character's son in 2 sequels released the following year.

Originally planning to be an action movie star, he studied Shorinji Kempo and later took up Kyokushin kaikan karate.[5] He began playing baseball at age 8 as a catcher,[6] and started training at the age of 11 with Chiba's Japan Action Club, where he developed good all-around martial arts ability and soon became Chiba's protégé. After entering high school, following Chiba's advice, he decided to devote himself to his studies and withdrew from performing arts activities. In 1978, he resumed his performing arts activities in earnest after passing the audition for the movie Shogun's Samurai (柳生一族の陰謀). It was at this point that he changed his surname from Shimozawa (下澤) to Sanada (真田).

Sanada's martial arts film career introduced him to Hong Kong action cinema, portraying the ninja Genbu in Ninja in the Dragon's Den (1982), then working with Michelle Yeoh, with whom he co-starred in Royal Warriors (1986), and then later starring in Danny Boyle's Sunshine. He has a long-standing friendship with Jackie Chan. Outside of Japan, Sanada was often credited in his younger days as Henry Sanada, Harry Sanada, or Duke Sanada.

Sanada received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Nihon University. From 1980 to 1991, Sanada released a series of albums and singles in Japan as a singer; several of these were tied to films, TV shows, or stage productions he was starring in. In 2010 and 2011, compilations were released covering his songs for movies and pop hits respectively.

Sanada has established himself as a character actor who is adept at playing a variety of roles. He was first noticed as a serious actor in the movie Mahjong Hourouki directed by Makoto Wada. Since then he has acted in Wada's movies—works filled with humour and nostalgia for classic films.

In 1999 and 2000, he performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in their production of King Lear, for which he was awarded as an Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2002, citing his "contribution to spreading British culture in Japan through his performance in a joint Shakespeare production."[7] Some media reports erroneously stated that Sanada received the honour for being the first Japanese actor to perform with the RSC, but Togo Igawa had joined the troupe much earlier, in 1986.[8]

Some of Sanada's more famous movies are Tasogare Seibei (The Twilight Samurai), Ring, Kaitō Ruby, and The Last Samurai. Sanada played Matsuda (the Japanese imperialist who befriends Ralph Fiennes' character Todd Jackson) in the 2005 film The White Countess directed by James Ivory. He starred in the Chinese film The Promise directed by Chen Kaige as General Guangming. Sanada has appeared in Rush Hour 3 in 2007 with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, and in The City of Your Final Destination in 2009 in which he plays the younger lover of Anthony Hopkins' character Adam Gund.

Sanada joined the cast of the ABC TV series Lost in 2010 during its sixth and final season. He portrayed Dogen, a high-ranking member of "The Others".[9] In 2013, he appears in 47 Ronin (the first English-language adaptation of the Chushingura legend, Japan's most famous tale of samurai loyalty and revenge) alongside Keanu Reeves,[10] and as Shingen Yashida in The Wolverine opposite Hugh Jackman.[11]

Sanada was a guest star as Takehaya, a former Japanese Navy officer and legendary pirate captain in post-plague Asia, in the apocalyptic drama series The Last Ship.[12] He also starred in the 2017 movie Life with Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds, and played the minor role of Akihiko in the 2019 film Avengers: Endgame. In August 2019, Sanada was cast in the Mortal Kombat reboot as Scorpion.[13]

In 2021, Sanada was announced as part of the cast as well as a producer of the FX limited series Shogun, adapted from the James Clavell novel, playing the part of Lord Toranaga.[14][6]



Year Title Role Director(s) Notes Ref.
1966 Game of Chance
Kenichi Endō Ryūichi Takamori
1967 Game of Chance 2
(続 浪曲子守唄)
Kenichi Endō Ryūichi Takamori
Game of Chance 3: Lullaby for My Son
Kenichi Endō Ryūichi Takamori
1969 Abashiri Prison: Drifter at the Edge of the World
(新網走番外地 さいはての流れ者)
Shōichi Teruo Ishii
1970 Legacy of Honor
Ichiro Kawamata Shigehiro Ozawa
(小沢 茂弘)
Brutal Tales of Chivalry 7
(昭和残侠伝 死んで貰います)
Yasuo Hanada Masahiro Makino
1974 The Executioner
(直撃! 地獄拳)
Young Ryūichi Kōga Teruo Ishii
1978 Shogun's Samurai
Hayate Kinji Fukasaku
Message from Space
Shirō Hongō Kinji Fukasaku
1979 Sanada Yukimura no Bōryaku
Isa Nyūdō Miyoshi Sadao Nakajima
G.I. Samurai
Takeda Katsuyori Kōsei Saitō
Tonda Couple
Hoshida Shinji Sōmai
Shogun's Ninja
(忍者武芸帖 百地三太夫)
Takamaru Momochi Norifumi Suzuki
1981 Samurai Reincarnation
Iga no Kirimaru Kinji Fukasaku
Roaring Fire
Jōji Hibiki/Tōru Hinohara Norifumi Suzuki
The Kamikaze Adventurer
Akira Hoshino Ryūichi Takamori
The Blazing Valiant
Joe Toru Dobashi
1982 Lovers Lost
Kunihiko Yasuoka Kinji Fukasaku
Ninja in the Dragon's Den
Genbu Corey Yuen
Hong Kong action film
Fall Guy
Himself Kinji Fukasaku
Ninja Wars
Jōtarō Kōsei Saitō
1983 Kabamaru the Ninja
Shizune Mejiro Norifumi Suzuki
Legend of the Eight Samurai
Shinbei Inue Kinji Fukasaku
1984 The Street of Desire
Jōji Tanaka Haruhiko Mimura
Kōtarō Makaritōru!
Tatsuya Yoshioka Norifumi Suzuki
Mahjong hōrōki
Tetsu Bōya Makoto Wada
1985 The Dagger of Kamui
Jiro Rintaro
1986 House on Fire
Chūya Nakahara Kinji Fukasaku
Inuji ni Seshi Mono
Shigesa Kazuyuki Izutsu
Tanokura Haruki Kadokawa
In the Line of Duty: Royal Warriors
Kenji "Peter" Yamamoto David Chung
Hong Kong film
1987 Sure Death 4: Revenge
(必殺IV 恨みはらします)
Ukyōnosuke Okuda Kinji Fukasaku
1988 Kaitō Ruby
Tōru Hayashi Makoto Wada
1989 Who Do I Choose?
Jun Yamamoto Shusuke Kaneko
1990 Yellow Fangs
Eiji Sonny Chiba
Let's Go to the Hospital
Kōhei Shintani Yōjirō Takita
Kyōichi Jun Ichikawa
1992 Succession
Masakazu Yoshinari Kazuki Ōmori
Let's Go to the Hospital 2
(病は気から 病院へ行こう2)
Ichirō Katakura Yōjirō Takita
1993 We Are Not Alone
Keiichi Takahashi Yōjirō Takita
Nemuranai Machi: Shinjuku Same
(眠らない街 新宿鮫)
Takashi Samejima Yōjirō Takita
1994 Uneasy Encounters
Man Makoto Wada
Episode 1
Hero Interview
Jinta Todoroki Michio Mitsuno
Crest of Betrayal
(忠臣蔵外伝 四谷怪談)
Takumi-no-kami Asano Kinji Fukasaku
Special appearance
Headquarters member Naoto Takenaka
1995 Sharaku
Tonbo Masahiro Shinoda
East Meets West Kenkichi Kamijō Kihachi Okamoto
Emergency Call
(緊急呼出し エマージェンシー・コール)
Hideyuki Harada Kazuki Ōmori
1998 Ring
Ryūji Takayama Hideo Nakata
Ryūji Takayama George Iida
Murder on D Street
Seiichirō Fukiya Akio Jissoji
Tadon to Chikuwa
Asami Jun Ichikawa
1999 Ring 2
Ryūji Takayama Hideo Nakata
Special appearance
2000 First Love
Shinichirō Fujiki Tetsuo Shinohara
2001 Minna no Ie
Bartender Kōki Mitani
Round About Midnight
Kōji Moriyama Makoto Wada
Dōson Yōjirō Takita
2002 Vengeance for Sale
Sukeroku Sukedachiya Kihachi Okamoto
The Twilight Samurai
Seibei Iguchi Yoji Yamada
2003 The Last Samurai Ujio Edward Zwick
2005 Aegis
Hisashi Sengoku Junji Sakamoto
The White Countess Matsuda James Ivory
The Promise
General Guangming Chen Kaige
Chinese film
2007 Sunshine Kaneda Danny Boyle
Rush Hour 3 Kenji Brett Ratner
2008 Speed Racer Mr. Musha The Wachowskis
2009 The City of Your Final Destination Pete James Ivory
2012 Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer
Narrator Yōjirō Takita
2013 The Wolverine Shingen Yashida James Mangold
The Railway Man Takashi Nagase Jonathan Teplitzky
47 Ronin Ōishi Yoshio Carl Rinsch
2015 Mr. Holmes Tamiki Umezaki Bill Condon
Minions Dumo the Sumo Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda Voice
2017 Life Sho Murakami Daniel Espinosa
2018 The Catcher Was a Spy Kawabata Ben Lewin
2019 Avengers: Endgame Akihiko Russo brothers
2020 Minamata Mitsuo Yamazaki Andrew Levitas
2021 Mortal Kombat Hanzo Hasashi / Scorpion Simon McQuoid
2021 Army of the Dead Bly Tanaka Zack Snyder
2022 Bullet Train The Elder David Leitch
2023 John Wick: Chapter 4 Shimazu Chad Stahelski Post-production


Year Title Role(s) Notes Ref.
1966 Freezing Point
2 episodes
JNR Inspector No. 36
2 episodes
1967 Special Tactical Police
1 episode
1968-1969 Ahirugaoka 77
Tahei Danno
1970 Mito Kōmon
Kanta 1 episode [17][18]
1970-1973 Key Hunter
3 episodes [19]
1975 The Gorilla Seven
1 episode
1977 J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai
Katsuya Nakayama 1 episode
Shinkansen Kōankan
Yasuo 1 episode
1978-1979 Message from Space: Galactic Wars
Hayato Gen/Maboroshi 27 episodes
The Yagyu Conspiracy
Hyōma Hattori
13 episodes
1978 Seven Detectives
1 episode
1979 The Unfettered Shogun
(吉宗評判記 暴れん坊将軍)
Otome Moroki 1 episode [20]
1980 Roar! Doberman Cop
Hiroshi Sawaki 1 episode
1980-1981 Yagyu Abaretabi
Matahei 10 episodes
1981-1982 Shadow Warriors II
Hayate Kozō 10 episodes
1982 Shadow Warriors III
Sasuke 13 episodes
1982-1983 Yagyu Jubei Abaretabi
Matahei 9 episodes
1984 Wonderful Circus Guy
Tsuyoshi Satomi TV film
Chōdenshi Bioman
Ken Hayase 1 episode
1985 Shadow Warriors IV
Katsu Rintarō 18 episodes
And Then the War is Over
Tetsutarō Suzuki TV film
Kamen no Ninja Akakage
Genji TV film
Shadow Warriors: The End of An Era
(影の軍団 幕末編)
Katsu Rintarō 3 episodes
1986 Interviewer Saeko: A Returnless Journey
(インタビュアー・冴子 〜もどらない旅へ〜)
TV film
1987 Classmate is 13-years-old
Kenkō Inawashiro
Dokuganryu Masamune
Matsudaira Tadateru 9 episodes
Sweet Memories
Kiyoshi Ishihara TV film [21]
Me and Sister
TV film
1988 Tokugawa Ieyasu
Ishida Mitsunari TV film
Love Story in New York
Masahiro Sakairi
I Love You So Much
Seiichi TV film [22]
1989 Oda Nobunaga
Tokugawa Ieyasu TV film
Sakamoto Ryoma
Sakamoto Ryōma TV film
1990 Shingo's Ten Duels
Aoi Shingo TV film
1991 Taiheiki
Ashikaga Takauji
Fall Guy: Gin-chan Goes
(続・蒲田行進曲 銀ちゃんが行く)
TV film
1992 Seiteki Mokushi Roku
Mitsuo Wada TV film
Seizoroi Shimizu Ikka: Jirocho Uridasu
(勢揃い清水一家 次郎長売り出す)
Shinya no Asakichi TV film
1993 Hideyoshi Toyotomi, Conqueror of a Nation
(天下を獲った男 豊臣秀吉)
Azai Nagamasa TV film
High School Teacher
Takao Hamura 11 episodes [23]
1994 The Reason I Owed to Her
Kunihiko Yamanobe 11 episodes [24]
1995 The Abe Clan
Matashichirō Emoto TV film
Miracles in the Holy Night: Santa Claus is Coming to Town
(聖夜の奇跡 聖者が街にやってくる -Santa Claus is Coming to town-」)
Yūji Nonomura TV film
1996 Hideyoshi
Ishida Mitsunari
1997 Shin Hanshichi Torimonocho
Hanshichi 18 episodes
A Story of Love
Shūichirō Harashima 12 episodes
1998 That Man's Fear
Keisuke Kishikawa TV film
Toshihito Manabe 10 episodes [25]
1999 Summer of Detectives
Kazuki Kurokawa TV film
Furuhata Ninzaburō
Kazuo Yura 1 episode [26]
Kujira o Mita hi
Tamio Ōba TV film
2001 Unmarried Family
Yōsuke Matoba 12 episodes
2004 Locked-in Syndrome
Shunsuke Kōsaka TV film [27]
2010 Lost Dogen 5 episodes
2011–2012 Revenge Satoshi Takeda 4 episodes
2014-2015 Helix Dr. Hiroshi Hatake 15 episodes
2014 Extant Hideki Yasumoto 13 episodes
2016 The Last Ship Takehaya 9 episodes
2018 Westworld Musashi 2 episodes
2020 Dolores "Sato" Abernathy 2 episodes
2021 Hawkeye Akihiko 1 episode (archive footage)
2022 Shōgun Yoshi Toranaga Upcoming miniseries [28]


Year Title Role Notes
1981 Yagyu Jubei Makai Tensho Iga no Kirimaru
Stuntman Story Hiroyuki
1982–1984 The Big Adventure of The Fantastic Pirates Icarus (Young Pirate)/Eagle Spirit
1984 Little Shop of Horrors
1985 The Drunken Duke Napoleon Bonaparte
Tenshu Story
1986 Adventure Youth Departure [citation needed]
Stuntman Love Story
Romeo and Juliet Romeo
1987 Biloxi Blues Eugene
1988 Big River Huckleberry
1989–1990 Broadway Bound Eugene
1993 Moonlit Club
1995–1998 Hamlet Hamlet
1999–2000 King Lear The Fool
2000 The Orchestra Pit Conductor


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External linksEdit