Mifune, Toshirô
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1951-09-27
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1961-09-27
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1975-09-27
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1964-09-27
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Kim Hyeong-Seok

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1966-09-27
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傅彪
1963-09-27

Toshirô Mifune

[ Mifune, Toshirô ]
Profile and general info
Name in native language: 三船 敏郎 (みふね としろう)
Family name: Mifune
Country: Japan
Birth date: Thursday, April 1,
Birth place: Qingdao, China
Death date: Wednesday, December 24, [18 years ago at the age of 77]
Bio
Nicknamed "The Wolf", Mifune was one of Japan's most charismatic actors, who helped create the golden age of Japanese cinema in the 1950s and 60s. He appeared in over 180 films, and is best known for his roles in Kurosawa Akira's masterpieces. A dynamic and ferocious actor, he excelled in action roles, but also had the depth to convince in subtle drama. He often portrayed a samurai or ronin (masterless samurai), sometimes rough and gruff, and usually a reluctant hero. The Hollywood equivalent would probably be Clint Eastwood in his spaghetti western days. Indeed that whole genre was heavily influenced by films like Yojimbo (poster below), which inspired the movie "For a Few Dollars More." The fact that George Lucas considered Mifune for the role of Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars is testimony to his international stature.

Mifune was born in the Chinese city of Tsingtao (now Qingdao) to Japanese parents and grew up in Dalian speaking both Japanese and Mandarin. His father was a photographer and the young Mifune worked in his studio for a time after graduating from middle school. He came of age while thw world was at war in 1940, and was immediately drafted. His experience with photography meant that he was attached to the Aerial Photography Unit of the Air Force for the duration of the war. He set foot in Japan for the first time at the age of 21.

After the war, he decided to try for a career behind the camera as a cinematographer. But after taking a test for director Kajiro Yamamoto, he was recommended to Senkichi Taniguchi, which lead to his first film role in Shin Baka Jidai (These Foolish Times, 1947). The following year saw the beginning of a relationship that would make him Japan's most famous actor. The first of his 16 films with legendary director Kurosawa Akira was Yoidore Tenshi (Drunken Angel, 1948). But the big breakthrough for both director and actor came with Rashomon in 1950, in which he played a medieval outlaw. The film, based on a short story, was revolutionary in its telling of a murder story from four different perspectives, dealing with the very nature of truth and reality. That same year he married Yoshimine Sachiko (who died in 1995). They went on to have three children.

Other highlights of the Mifune-Kurosawa collaboration include Hakuchi (The Idiot, 1951), Shichinin no Samurai (The Seven Samurai, 1954), and Yojimbo (Bodyguard, 1961). He reportedly watched films of lions in the wild for inspiration for his character in Shichinin no Samurai, a film that would inspire the classic western The Magnificent Seven and always ranks among the best films ever made. He also played legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi on several occasions, but had the dramtic range to play "salarymen" and even romantic leads. While his image was that of the warrior and all-round tough guy, and his presence was very dominating, he was only 5'9" tall (175cm) - still a couple of inches taller than most of his male co-stars.

He made one attempt at directing, 1963's Goju Man-nin no Isan, but it was a flop. During the making of Akahige in 1965 (a role that won him the Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival for a second time), Mifune and Kurosawa had a falling out that led to the end of their working relationship. After that, Mifune made several appearances in Hollywood movies. Although he took the trouble to learn English for his role in Grand Prix (1966), his parts were always dubbed, a fact that bothered him to the end of his career. Other roles in foreign films included Hell in the Pacific (1968), Paper Tiger (1975), Midway (1976), and Steven Spielberg's 1941 (1979). He revitalized his career in 1980 in the hugely popular U.S. mini-series Shogun, as Lord Toranaga. One of his final films was 1994's Picture Bride alongside Kudo Yuki.

Source: Japan Zone
Trivia
  • Ranked #90 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
  • In the Japanese animated series "Mahha GoGoGo" (1967) (known in the U. S. as Speed Racer), the hero was named Go Mifune; the name was chosen in tribute to Toshiro Mifune.
  • Was considered early on by George Lucas for the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars (1977).
  • Even though Mifune worked hard to learn his English-speaking roles phonetically, his voice was always dubbed in the American films in which he appeared. This was one of the things that disappointed him up until the day he died.
  • Father of Shirô Mifune
  • His unique acting style is referenced by several characters in the Danish film Mifunes sidste sang (1999).
  • Mexican director/producer Ismael Rodríguez cast him as the drunken Mexican-Indian title role of his film Ánimas Trujano (El hombre importante) (1962). Mifune studied a tape of a Mexican actor speaking his dialog to memorize his lines. Then, on the shooting he was able to speak his entire part in Spanish. Despite this fact, in the finished film, his voice is dubbed by Mexican actor Narciso Busquets.
  • Reportedly watched films of lions in the wild for inspiration for his character in Shichinin no samurai (1954).
  • Due to his intense, intimidating screen presence and real-life status as a physical powerful tough guy and war veteran, most people (whether having known him only from film or having personally meet him) got the impression that Mifune was a much larger man than he actually was, in reality he stood 5' 9". However, even at this size he was indeed 2 or 3 inches taller than most of his male co-stars.
  • Father of Mika Mifune
  • Spoke fluent Mandarin.
  • Personally trained the Asian extras who were hired to play the Japanese submarine crew in 1941 (1979). He was reportedly very annoyed that they were not real sailors and had no real training, so he used his own military background to teach them how to act like sailors in the film.
  • Grandfather of Rikiya Mifune
  • Chinese name is Sanchuan Minlang.
  • Although born in China, he was from a fully Japanese family.
  • His prolific career included repeat roles as three of the most noted figures in Japanese history. He portrayed Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in three separate films, has played both the real life version of the indomitable warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu in Kabuto (1991) and his fictionalized counterpart Toranaga in "Shogun" (1980), and has performed the role of the legendary master swordsman Miyamoto Musashi four times.
  • His performance as Sanjuro Kuwabatake in Yôjinbô (1961) is ranked #78 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
  • In the Japanese animated series Speed Racer, the M on the hood of the Mach 5 and Speed Racers helmet was in tribute to him.
  • He actually wanted to be a photographer, not an actor. He got his start in the movies when he blundered into an audition by mistake and flew into a rage.
  • He was considered for Mr Miyagi in The Karate Kid, but after the reading the producers felt that he acted the part too scary.
  • In the graphic novel series Usagi Yojimbo, Usagi's overlord is named Lord Mifune, in honor of Toshiro Mifune.
  • Favorite actor of Akira Kurosawa.
Filmography
As an actor:
  • 1995 Fukai kawa
  • 1994 Picture Bride
  • 1992 Shadow of the Wolf
  • 1991 Kabuto as Lord Ieyasu
  • 1991 Sutoroberi rodo
  • 1989 Haru kuru oni
  • 1989 Sen no Rikyu as Rikyu Sen-no
  • 1989 CF gâru
  • 1987 Taketori monogatari
  • 1987 Otoko wa tsurai yo: Shiretoko bojô
  • 1987 Sicilian Connection
  • 1986 Genkai tsurezure-bushi
  • 1985 Seijo densetsu
  • 1984 Natsu no deai
  • 1984 Umitsubame Jyo no kiseki
  • 1984 Moetechiru hono no kenshi Okita Sohji
  • 1984 Sanga moyu
  • 1983 Makyo sessho-tani no himitsu
  • 1983 Suronin makaritoru dai gobu namida ni kieru mikka gokuraku
  • 1983 Nihonkai daikaisen: Umi yukaba as Admiral Heihachiro Togo
  • 1983 Suronin makaritoru dai yonbu sarumo jigoku nokorumo jigoku
  • 1983 Jinsei gekijo
  • 1983 Suronin makyosashodani no himitsu
  • 1983 Yusha ha katarazu
  • 1982 Seiha
  • 1982 Suronin makaritoru dai sanbu chikemuri no yado
  • 1982 Shingo juban shobu dai sanbu ai ni iki-ken ni ikiru seishun
  • 1982 The Challenge
  • 1982 Suronin makaritoru dai nibu akatsuki no shito
  • 1982 Shingo juban shobu dai nibu
  • 1982 Shiawase no kiiroi hankachi
  • 1981 The Bushido Blade
  • 1981 Suronin makaritoru
  • 1981 Kyukei no koya
  • 1981 Shingo juban shobu dai ichibu
  • 1981 Inchon
  • 1981 Sekigahara
  • 1981 Musumeyo! Ai to namida no tsubasa de tobe
  • 1981 Bungo torimonocho
  • 1981 Shogun as Lord Yoshi Toranaga
  • 1980 Shogun
  • 1980 203 kochi as Emperor Meiji
  • 1979 1941 as Cmdr. Akiro Mitamura
  • 1979 Onmitsu dôshin: Ôedo sôsamô
  • 1979 Kindaichi Kosuke no boken as Kindaichi from Future
  • 1979 Winter Kills
  • 1979 Kakekomibiru nanagoshitsu
  • 1978 Tono Eijirô no Mito Kômon
  • 1978 Nihon no don: kanketsuhen
  • 1978 Ako-Jo danzetsu
  • 1978 Ogin-sama
  • 1978 Inubue
  • 1978 Yagyû ichizoku no inbô
  • 1978 Edo no taka
  • 1977 Nippon no don: Yabohen
  • 1977 Ningen no shômei
  • 1977 Muhogai no suronin
  • 1977 Otoko no shiken
  • 1977 Kakushimetsuke sanjo
  • 1976 Midway as Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
  • 1976 Ken to kaze to komoriuta
  • 1975 Paper Tiger
  • 1973 Koya no yojimbo
  • 1972 Kôya no surônin
  • 1971 Soleil rouge
  • 1971 Dai Chûshingura
  • 1970 Gekido no showashi 'Gunbatsu' as Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto
  • 1970 Aru heishi no kake
  • 1970 Machibuse as The yojimbo
  • 1970 Bakumatsu
  • 1970 Zatôichi to Yôjinbô as Sassa the yojimbo
  • 1969 Shinsengumi as Isami Kondo
  • 1969 Akage
  • 1969 Nihonkai daikaisen as Admiral Heihachiro Togo
  • 1969 Eiko e no 5,000 kiro
  • 1969 Fûrin kazan as Kansuke Yamamoto
  • 1968 Hell in the Pacific as Captain Tsuruhiko Kuroda
  • 1968 Gion matsuri
  • 1968 Rengo kantai shirei chôkan: Yamamoto Isoroku as Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto
  • 1968 Chikadô no taiyô made
  • 1968 Gonin no nobushi
  • 1967 Nihon no ichiban nagai hi
  • 1967 Jôi-uchi: Hairyô tsuma shimatsu as Isaburo Sasahara
  • 1966 Grand Prix as Izo Yamura
  • 1966 Doto ichiman kairi
  • 1966 Kiganjô no bôken
  • 1966 Dai-bosatsu tôge as Toranosuke Shimada
  • 1966 Abare Goemon
  • 1965 Chi to suna
  • 1965 Taiheiyo kiseki no sakusen: Kisuka
  • 1965 Sugata Sanshiro as Shogoro Yano
  • 1965 Akahige
  • 1965 Samurai
  • 1964 Shikonmado - Dai tatsumaki
  • 1963 Dai tozoku
  • 1963 Gojuman-nin no isan
  • 1963 Tengoku to jigoku as Kingo Gondo
  • 1963 Taiheiyo no tsubasa
  • 1962 Chûshingura
  • 1962 Zoku shachô yôkôki
  • 1962 Doburoku no Tatsu
  • 1962 Ánimas Trujano (El hombre importante)
  • 1962 Tsubaki Sanjûrô as The Samurai
  • 1961 Gen to fudômyô-ô
  • 1961 Yôjinbô as Sanjuro Kuwabatake
  • 1961 Zoku sararîman Chûshingura
  • 1961 Ôsaka-jô monogatari
  • 1960 Sararîman Chûshingura
  • 1960 Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru
  • 1960 Otoko tai otoko
  • 1960 Hawai Middouei daikaikusen: Taiheiyo no arashi
  • 1960 Kunisada Chûji
  • 1960 Ankokugai no taiketsu
  • 1959 Nippon tanjo as Prince Yamato Takeru
  • 1959 Dokuritsu gurentai
  • 1959 Sengoku gunto-den
  • 1959 Aru kengo no shogai
  • 1959 Ankokugai no kaoyaku
  • 1958 Kakushi-toride no san-akunin as General Rokurota Makabe
  • 1958 Jinsei gekijô - Seishun hen
  • 1958 Kekkon no subete
  • 1958 Yajikita dochu sugoroku
  • 1958 Muhomatsu no issho
  • 1958 Tôkyô no kyûjitsu
  • 1958 Yagyu bugeicho - Ninjitsu
  • 1957 Shitamachi
  • 1957 Donzoko as Sutekichi the Thief
  • 1957 Kiken na eiyu
  • 1957 Yagyû bugeichô
  • 1957 Kono futari ni sachi are
  • 1957 Arashi no naka no otoko
  • 1957 Kumonosu-jô
  • 1956 Shujinsen
  • 1956 Narazu-mono
  • 1956 Tsuma no kokoro
  • 1956 Aijô no kessan
  • 1956 Ankokugai
  • 1956 Kuro-obi sangokushi
  • 1956 Miyamoto Musashi kanketsuhen: kettô Ganryûjima as Musashi Miyamoto (Takezo)
  • 1955 Ikimono no kiroku
  • 1955 Zoku Miyamoto Musashi: Ichijôji no kettô as Musashi Miyamoto (Takezo)
  • 1955 Otoko arite
  • 1955 Zoku tenka taihei
  • 1955 Tenka taihei
  • 1955 Dansei No. 1
  • 1954 Mitsuyu-sen
  • 1954 Shiosai
  • 1954 Miyamoto Musashi as Musashi Miyamoto (Takezo)
  • 1954 Shichinin no samurai as Kikuchiyo
  • 1953 Taiheiyô no washi
  • 1953 Himawari musume
  • 1953 Hoyo
  • 1953 Fukeyo haru kaze
  • 1952 Minato e kita otoko
  • 1952 Gekiryu
  • 1952 Tokyo no koibito
  • 1952 Sengoku burai
  • 1952 Kin no tamago: Golden girl
  • 1952 Saikaku ichidai onna
  • 1952 Muteki
  • 1952 Araki Mataemon: Kettô kagiya no tsuji as Mataemon Araki
  • 1951 Onnagokoro dare ka shiru
  • 1951 Bakurô ichidai
  • 1951 Kanketsu Sasaki Kojirô: Ganryû-jima kettô as Musashi Miyamoto
  • 1951 Sengoha obake taikai
  • 1951 Kaizoku-sen
  • 1951 Hakuchi
  • 1951 Aika
  • 1951 Ai to nikushimi no kanata e
  • 1950 Sasaki Kojiro
  • 1950 Rashômon as Tajômaru
  • 1950 Konyaku yubiwa
  • 1950 Shûbun
  • 1950 Ishinaka sensei gyojoki
  • 1950 Datsugoku
  • 1949 Nora inu as Det. Murakami
  • 1949 Jakoman to Tetsu as Tetsu
  • 1949 Shizukanaru kettô as Dr. Kyoji Fujisaki
  • 1948 Yoidore tenshi as Matsunaga
  • 1947 Shin baka jidai [Go]
  • 1947 Shin baka jidai [Zen]
  • 1947 Ginrei no hate
  • 1984 Umitsubame Jyo no kiseki
  • 1979 Onmitsu dôshin: Ôedo sôsamô
  • 1978 Inubue
  • 1972 Kôya no surônin
  • 1971 Futari dake no asa
  • 1970 Machibuse
  • 1969 Shinsengumi
  • 1969 Akage
  • 1969 Fûrin kazan
  • 1968 Chikadô no taiyô made
  • 1967 Jôi-uchi: Hairyô tsuma shimatsu
  • 1966 Doto ichiman kairi
  • 1966 Kiganjô no bôken
  • 1965 Chi to suna
  • 1963 Gojuman-nin no isan
  • 1966 Kiganjô no bôken
  • 1963 Gojuman-nin no isan
  • 1998 The 70th Annual Academy Awards
  • 1989 Cinéma cinémas
  • 1981 The 33rd Annual Emmy Awards
  • 1981 Tetsuko no heya
  • 1978 Auf los geht's los
  • 1975 V.I.P.-Schaukel
  • 1969 8 ji dayo! zen'in shûgô
  • 1966 Grand Prix: Challenge of the Champions
  • 2007 The Making of 'Drunken Angel'
  • 2005 Cineastas contra magnates
  • 2002 Kurosawa Akira: Tsukuru to iu koto wa subarashii
  • 2001 The Making of 'Midway'
  • 1996 The Making of '1941'
  • 1984 Cine de aliento de los 60, 2da parte
As a director:
  • 1963 Gojuman-nin no isan
  • 1998 The 70th Annual Academy Awards
  • 1989 Cinéma cinémas
  • 1981 The 33rd Annual Emmy Awards
  • 1981 Tetsuko no heya
  • 1978 Auf los geht's los
  • 1975 V.I.P.-Schaukel
  • 1969 8 ji dayo! zen'in shûgô
  • 1966 Grand Prix: Challenge of the Champions
  • 2007 The Making of 'Drunken Angel'
  • 2005 Cineastas contra magnates
  • 2002 Kurosawa Akira: Tsukuru to iu koto wa subarashii
  • 2001 The Making of 'Midway'
  • 1996 The Making of '1941'
  • 1984 Cine de aliento de los 60, 2da parte
As a producer:
  • 1984 Umitsubame Jyo no kiseki
  • 1979 Onmitsu dôshin: Ôedo sôsamô
  • 1978 Inubue
  • 1972 Kôya no surônin
  • 1971 Futari dake no asa
  • 1970 Machibuse
  • 1969 Shinsengumi
  • 1969 Akage
  • 1969 Fûrin kazan
  • 1968 Chikadô no taiyô made
  • 1967 Jôi-uchi: Hairyô tsuma shimatsu
  • 1966 Doto ichiman kairi
  • 1966 Kiganjô no bôken
  • 1965 Chi to suna
  • 1963 Gojuman-nin no isan
  • 1966 Kiganjô no bôken
  • 1963 Gojuman-nin no isan
  • 1998 The 70th Annual Academy Awards
  • 1989 Cinéma cinémas
  • 1981 The 33rd Annual Emmy Awards
  • 1981 Tetsuko no heya
  • 1978 Auf los geht's los
  • 1975 V.I.P.-Schaukel
  • 1969 8 ji dayo! zen'in shûgô
  • 1966 Grand Prix: Challenge of the Champions
  • 2007 The Making of 'Drunken Angel'
  • 2005 Cineastas contra magnates
  • 2002 Kurosawa Akira: Tsukuru to iu koto wa subarashii
  • 2001 The Making of 'Midway'
  • 1996 The Making of '1941'
  • 1984 Cine de aliento de los 60, 2da parte
Self:
  • 1998 The 70th Annual Academy Awards
  • 1989 Cinéma cinémas
  • 1981 The 33rd Annual Emmy Awards
  • 1981 Tetsuko no heya
  • 1978 Auf los geht's los
  • 1975 V.I.P.-Schaukel
  • 1969 8 ji dayo! zen'in shûgô
  • 1966 Grand Prix: Challenge of the Champions
  • 2007 The Making of 'Drunken Angel'
  • 2005 Cineastas contra magnates
  • 2002 Kurosawa Akira: Tsukuru to iu koto wa subarashii
  • 2001 The Making of 'Midway'
  • 1996 The Making of '1941'
  • 1984 Cine de aliento de los 60, 2da parte

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Movies

Filmography

(partial)
Death of a Tea MasterDeath of a Tea Master

Sen No Rikyu

as Rikyu Sen-no

Year: 1989

Red LionRed Lion

Akage

as Gonzo

Year: 1969

Samurai RebellionSamurai Rebellion

Joi-Uchi: Hairyo Tsuma Shimatsu

as Isaburo Sasahara

Year: 1967

Sword of DoomSword of Doom

Dai-Bosatsu Toge

as Toranosuke Shimada

Year: 1966

Bodyguard, TheBodyguard, The

Yojimbo

as Sanjuro Kuwabatake/The Samurai

Year: 1961

Hidden Fortress, TheHidden Fortress, The

Kakushi-Toride No San-Akunin

as General Rokurota Makabe

Year: 1958

Samurai 3: Duel on Ganryu IslandSamurai 3: Duel on Ganryu Island

Miyamoto Musashi Kanketsuhen: Ketto Ganryujima

as Musashi Miyamoto (Takezo)

Year: 1956

Samurai 2: Duel at Ichijoji TempleSamurai 2: Duel at Ichijoji Temple

Zoku Miyamoto Musashi: Ichijoji No Ketto

as Musashi Miyamoto (Takezo)

Year: 1955

Samurai 1: Musashi MiyamotoSamurai 1: Musashi Miyamoto

Miyamoto Musashi

as Musashi Miyamoto (Takezo)

Year: 1954

Seven SamuraiSeven Samurai

Shichinin No Samurai

as Kikuchiyo

Year: 1954

In the WoodsIn the Woods

Rashomon

as Tajômaru

Year: 1950




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