Hiroyuki Sanada





10/12/1960 , Tokyo, Japan

Birth Name

Hiroyuki Shimosawa




Hiroyuki Sanada was born Hiroyuki Shimosawa in Tokyo on October 12, 1960. At the age of 5, he began to model for magzine covers. He also appeared in his first movie with Shinichi (Sonny) Chiba, who later will become his mentor. In the meantime, Sanada san attends school, and then at the age of 13, he joins Chiba's Japan Action Club (JAC) to begin learning horseback riding, the martial arts, jazz and traditional Japanese Dance. After graduating from Horikoshi Gakuen High School for "talento", or gifted children, he makes his debut with Sonny Chiba in Yagyu Ichizoku no Inbo which catapults him into an illustrious career as an action star in samurai and ninja movies in the 70's and 80's. Sanada san also appeared in many stage plays with JAC, including Big River and various other musicals. He eventually wins an award for Little Shop of Horrors in 1987.

In 1982, Sanada san graduated from Nihon University of Art, majoring in Film. He then appeared in a famous action film titled Shogun's Ninja with Sonny Chiba. His career took off in the 80's, with more and more dramatic roles. He appears in a tragic love tale Dotonborigawa (Lover's Lost) and Mahjong Horoki (Mahjong Vagrant Life); and in several Hong Kong features, including the famous Royal Warriors with Michelle Yeoh. Sanada san also released several albums in the 80's and toured Japan in rock concerts.

Over the years, Sanada san is recognized as an "actor's actor", with various roles in movies, T.V. dramas, notably a favorite movie among his legion of fans, Shinjuku Zame (Detective Zame); and the drama Hero Interview, Tabloid, Konna Koi no Hanashi and many others. In 2000, the Royal Shakespeare Company cast him as "The Fool" in King Lear, alongside the great Sir Nigel Hawthorne. For his performance and his bringing his cultural heritage and diversity to the London stage he was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) from the Queen of England. He had also played Hamlet previously in Japan and London. Sanada san is the recipient of five Japan Academy Awards, most recently for his portrayal of a widowed father in Tasogare Seibei (The Twilight Samurai). The movie was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the American Academy Awards (2004), but alas, didn't win.

Sanada san stars as "Ujio" in The Last Samurai. It is this movie that has gained him accolades internationally, and new fans worldwide. Sanada san is currently in China filming Wu Ji, The Promise.

By Caroline

(Thanks for the help Caroline!!)