Sanada, Hiroyuki
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Hiroyuki Sanada

[ Sanada, Hiroyuki ]
Profile and general info
Name in native language: 真田 広之 (さなだ ひろゆき)
Family name: Sanada
Also known as: Duke Sanada, Henry Sanada
Country: Japan
Birth date: Wednesday, October 12, [56 years old]
Birth place: Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan
Sanada Hiroyuki is a rare animal in the Japanese entertainment world -- an "engi-ha" or actor who can really act. Perhaps this is the greatest compliment that an actor can be paid in Japan, superfluous though it would seem elsewhere. And Sanada is one of the very few who have had the courage to prove this outside Japan. Like the late Mifune Toshiro or Takakura Ken who have proved themselves abroad, or contemporaries such as Yakusho Koji who has dominated the award shows since the mid-1990s, or "The Last Samurai" co-star Watanabe Ken, Sanada is much in demand for serious films.

Born Shimozawa Hiroyuki, he started his acting career very young, joining the Himawari Drama Company and becoming a magazine model at just five years of age. He appeared in his first movie that same year but shortly after stopped everything to go to school. He lost his father at the age of 11 and started to learn karate the same year. At 13, he joined the Japan Action Club theater group and started to learn jazz dance. At the JAC he became a protoge of such stars as Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba and Sho Kosugi (father of popular young actor Kane Kosugi). He learned horseriding and graduated from the Horikoshi Gakuen high school, a school that specializes in young "talento."

He made a second movie debut at the age of 18 under the name Sanada Hiroyuki in Yagyu Ichizoku no Inbo (Shogun Samurai). The early years of this -- his second acting career -- were spent mostly in similarly low-budget samurai and ninja movies. He became quite popular as a martial artist abroad and used the nicknames "Henry" or "Duke" Sanada. He graduated in Film Science from the arts college of Nihon University in 1982.

Sanada Hiroyuki In 1987, he won the Golden Arrow award for Best Newcomer for his performance on stage in Little Shop of Horrors. His movie accolades are even more impressive -- he's won the Best Actor prize at the Japan Academy Awards no less than five times. One was for his lead role in the critically acclaimed Tasogare Seibei (The Twilight Samurai, 2002. Photo, left) which also earned an Oscar nomination for an for Best Foreign Picture. At the time of the Japanese awards show, he was in New Zealand filming the Tom Cruise movie, The Last Samurai. On working with the Hollywood star: "When I first met him, he'd already learned Japanese fighting for eight months. But some parts looked western, so I gave him some pointers on grip or stance or how to use his eyes. We trained a lot together. I taught him some forms to make his movement more authentic Japanese. And he was a good learner and a hard worker. Quick learner. Every day he improved, more authentic. So we had a good relationship and we've enjoy rehearsal on the set."

These two movies put him in warrior mode, very much as he was cast in his younger days in martial arts movies. But Sanada is nothing if not versatile. He starred in the Ring/Rasen (Ring/Spiral, 1998) horror series that was so successful as to be remade in Hollywood in 2002. In 2000, he became the first Japanese actor to ever appear with the Royal Shakespeare Company, putting in a creditable English performance in London as King Lear's Fool. He had a role in the final Merchant Ivory production, the period drama The White Countess in 2006. He has starred in a host of other TV series, over 50 movie productions and has even released several albums.

He was married to actress Tezuka Satomi, with whom he had two sons, from 1990 until their divorce in 1997. Sanada has earned quite a reputation as a playboy, notably having an affair with actress Suzuki Riona, 15 years younger.

Source: Japan Zone
  • Graduate of Nihon University, Film Departmemt.
  • Ex-wife has custody of their two sons.
  • A protege of Sonny Chiba
  • Disciple of Sonny Chiba.
  • Is a close friend of action icon Etsuko 'Sue' Shiomi.
  • Senior member of Japan Action Club.
  • Had to learn Mandarin for his role in Mo Gik (The Promise).
As an actor:
  • 2011 Fallen Moon
  • 2012 47 Ronin
  • 2010 Lost
  • 2009 The City of Your Final Destination
  • 2008 Speed Racer as Mr. Musha
  • 2007 Rush Hour 3 as Kenji
  • 2007 Sunshine as Kaneda
  • 2005 Wu ji
  • 2005 The White Countess
  • 2005 Bôkoku no îjisu
  • 2005 What's New, Scooby-Doo?
  • 2003 The Last Samurai as Ujio
  • 2002 Tasogare Seibei as Seibei Iguchi
  • 2001 Sukedachi-ya Sukeroku
  • 2001 Onmyoji
  • 2001 Minna no ie
  • 2001 Hikon kazoku
  • 2000 Hatsukoi
  • 1999 Mayonaka made
  • 1999 Ringu 2 as Ryûji Takayama
  • 1998 Tadon to chikuwa
  • 1998 Tabuloido
  • 1998 D-Zaka no satsujin jiken
  • 1998 Ringu as Ryûji Takayama
  • 1998 Rasen as Ryûji Takayama
  • 1997 Shin Hanshichi torimono chô
  • 1997 Kon'na koi no hanashi
  • 1995 Kinkyu yobidashi - Emâjenshî kôru
  • 1995 East Meets West
  • 1995 Sharaku
  • 1995 Abe ichizoku
  • 1994 Chushingura gaiden yotsuya kaidan
  • 1994 Hero Interview
  • 1994 Kowagaru hitobito
  • 1993 Nemuranai machi - Shinjuku same
  • 1993 Bokura wa minna ikiteiru
  • 1993 Kôkô kyôshi
  • 1992 Yamai wa kikara: Byôin e ikô 2
  • 1992 Keisho sakazuki
  • 1991 Zoku Kamata kôshinkyoku: Ginchan ga iku
  • 1991 Taiheiki
  • 1990 Tugumi
  • 1990 Byôin e ikô
  • 1990 Rimeinzu: Utsukushiki yuusha-tachi
  • 1989 Docchini suruno
  • 1988 Kaitô Ruby
  • 1987 Hissatsu 4: Urami harashimasu
  • 1987 Dokugan-ryu Masamune
  • 1986 Wong ga jin si
  • 1986 Kyabarê
  • 1986 Inujini sesi mono
  • 1986 Kataku no hito
  • 1985 Kamui no ken
  • 1985 Kage no Gundan: Bakumatsu hen
  • 1984 Mâjan hourouki
  • 1984 Kotaro makari-toru!
  • 1984 Irodori-gawa
  • 1984 Chôdenshi Baioman
  • 1983 Satomi hakken-den as Inue Shinbei Masashi
  • 1982 Iga ninpôchô
  • 1982 Kamata koshin-kyoku
  • 1982 Long zhi ren zhe as Jin-wu
  • 1982 Dôtonborigawa
  • 1982 Hoero tekken
  • 1982 Kage no gundan III
  • 1981 Moeru yusha
  • 1981 Bôkensha kamikaze
  • 1981 Makai tenshô
  • 1981 Swords of the Space Ark
  • 1980 Ninja bugeicho momochi sandayu
  • 1980 Tonda kappuru
  • 1979 Sengoku jieitai as Takeda Katsuyori
  • 1979 Sanada Yukimura no bouryaku
  • 1979 Uchu kara no messeji: Ginga taisen
  • 1978 Yagyû ichizoku no inbô
  • 1978 Uchu kara no messeji
  • 1978 Yagyû ichizoku no inbô
  • 1974 Chokugeki! Jigoku-ken
  • 1969 Mito Kômon
  • 1990 Rimeinzu: Utsukushiki yuusha-tachi
  • 2010 Sorting It Out at Ocho Rios
  • 2008 Speed Racer: Wonderful World of Racing - The Amazing Racer Family as Mr. Musha
  • 2004 Shômei kumagai gakkô
  • 1982 The 5th Annual Japan Academy Awards
As a composer:
  • 1990 Rimeinzu: Utsukushiki yuusha-tachi
  • 2010 Sorting It Out at Ocho Rios
  • 2008 Speed Racer: Wonderful World of Racing - The Amazing Racer Family
  • 2004 Shômei kumagai gakkô
  • 1982 The 5th Annual Japan Academy Awards
  • 2010 Sorting It Out at Ocho Rios
  • 2008 Speed Racer: Wonderful World of Racing - The Amazing Racer Family
  • 2004 Shômei kumagai gakkô
  • 1982 The 5th Annual Japan Academy Awards


External links

Hiroyuki Sanada Enthusiast (HSE)
link to:
Sanada Hiroyuki Inspired Nuances (SHIN)
link to:
The Hiroyuki Sanada WebGallery
link to:

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