Hiroyuki Sanada talks about ‘The Railway Man’ and ’47 Ronin’

Hiroyuki Sanada stars opposite Colin Firth in "The Railway Man."
Hiroyuki Sanada stars opposite Colin Firth in “The Railway Man.”

Japanese-born actor Hiroyuki Sanada comes off his summer success in “The Wolverine” with two very different films taking a look at Japanese history. The first, debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival, is “The Railway Man,” about a former British POW (Colin Firth) who confronts one of his former captors (Sanada). It’s a moment in Japanese history Sanada is not very proud of, but still an important one to examine, he insists. And this Christmas, he goes full samurai in Keanu Reeves’ long-awaited “47 Ronin.”

“The Railway Man” takes on a contentious piece of history.
It’s a true story based on the book from Eric Lomax. I didn’t know those kinds of things happened because, especially in Japan, there’s no education about that. Teachers never talk to students, even parents don’t, and I though that is a problem. I thought we must make this film now to tell the story for the next generation, to help make a more peaceful world and make sure something like this never happens again. And also for me it was important this role be played by a Japanese-born actor. It’s a kind of mission, I felt.

Why do you think it isn’t taught in Japan as much?
Because it’s a story from during the war and a lot of bad things happened in the POW camps. That kind of thing, the people don’t want to know. They don’t want the world to know the story. But with a movie like this, it’s a chance for reconciliation, to say sorry and ask for forgiveness. Look back into your history and if you’re wrong, say sorry and go the next steps together to create a better future. It’s a small world.

How was working with Colin Firth?
It was a great experience. It was almost like just the two of us in a small room, just talking and talking. It was like we were on stage in a play. We created good chemistry from the beginning, but I’m not sure how. Maybe because he chose this role and I chose this role, we really had the same goal. Of course, he’s a great actor. Also, maybe it’s because we’re the same age [Laughs].

You’re also in Keanu Reeves’ “47 Ronin,” which is finally coming out this year.
Yes, finally. It will be released at Christmas. It’s very exciting because he took a long time for post-production. I was involved with the movie almost three years ago, and finally I can see the movie and I can show it to audiences. I’m so curious about the world’s reaction to it because it’s based on a true story, the most famous revenge story in Japan, but with a lot of fantasy and CGI action, almost like a samurai version of “The Lord of the Rings.”

Why do you think samurai stories continue to be so popular?
I think people think it’s about the sword-fighting and that kind of thing, but the samurai spirit is more a mentality thing. Especially now, there’s still a lot of war and terrorism happening in the world, so we need this spirit of humbleness, respect and loyalty. I think people want to see something with that kind of mentality. The samurai is not just a fighter.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Arts

EXCLUSIVE: Backstage with Adam Jacobs at 'Aladdin' on…

Metro shadowed Adam Jacobs backstage at "Aladdin" on Broadway.

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

Movies

Review: Bickering family dramedy 'This is Where I…

A talented cast sits Shiva in the bickering family dramedy "This is Where I Leave You," although it's more sap than yuks.

NFL

J.J. Watt poses unique challenges to struggling Giants…

Watt, arguably the best defensive player in the league, is the leader of a surprising Texans (2-0) team that has already matched last season’s win total.

NFL

Eric Decker 'unlikely to play' against Bears: Source

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker's status for Monday night’s game against the Bears is in doubt after he missed practice again Wednesday.

NFL

Preston Parker, not Odell Beckham, will replace Jerrel…

Tom Coughlin noted the next man up will be unheralded veteran Preston Parker.

NFL

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…