FX

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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