‘Shōgun’ stars Hiroyuki Sanada, Anna Sawai on FX’s TV epic — and that epic Rotten Tomatoes score


On Tuesday, February 27, at 10 p.m. ET, FX reveals the first two episodes in its epic adaptation of James Clavell‘s bestselling novel Shōgun.

Hiroyuki Sanada, a former child star turned legendary Japanese actor, stars in and produces the 10-episode series. 

He plays Lord Yoshii Toranaga, who is struggling to keep his legacy — and himself — alive at the dawn of a century-defining civil war.

And while a star with a producer title can be something of an honorific in Hollywood, Sanada was extremely hands-on, lending not only his cultural sensitivity to the 1600s-set historical drama, but also his industry contacts.

“Luckily, we hired a Japanese crew from Japan,” Sanada tells ABC Audio. “They have experience for the samurai drama making [for a] long time. Some of them I worked with, worked together 40 years ago, 30 years ago, you know, from each department, picked up the best person for this project.”

Anna Sawai plays Toda Mariko, a mysterious translator for a shipwrecked English captain, and the last of a disgraced line. 

Sawai can also be seen in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters alongside another former child star who turned into a big-screen legend: Kurt Russell. She says with a laugh, “When you word it like that, I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, like how am I experiencing this?!'”

She continues, “They’re so passionate about their work and they don’t give off that celebrity vibe. They’re just … thespians and they love it. And they’ve become examples of what you want to be like.”

Shōgun currently has a rare 100% rating on the aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, a feat that Sanada calls “amazing, crazy [and] more than I expected.” 

“It doesn’t feel real,” Sawai added.  

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