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Toshirô Mifune Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (25) | Personal Quotes (10)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 1 April 1920Tsingtao, China [now Qingdao, Shandong, China]
Date of Death 24 December 1997Mitaka city, Tokyo, Japan  (organ failure)
Birth NameSanchuan Minlang
Nicknames The Wolf
The Shogun
Height 5' 11¼" (1.81 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Toshiro Mifune achieved more worldwide fame than any other Japanese actor of his century. He was born in Tsingtao, China, to Japanese parents and grew up in Dalian. He did not set foot in Japan until he was 21. His father was an importer and a commercial photographer, and young Toshiro worked in his father's studio for a time after graduating from Dalian Middle School. He was automatically drafted into the Japanese army when he turned 20, and enlisted in the Air Force where he was attached to the Aerial Photography Unit for the duration of the World War II. In 1947 he took a test for Kajirô Yamamoto, who recommended him to director Senkichi Taniguchi, thus leading to Mifune's first film role in These Foolish Times II (1947). Mifune then met and bonded with director Akira Kurosawa, and the two joined to become the most prominent actor-director pairing in all Japanese cinema. Beginning with Drunken Angel (1948), Mifune appeared in 16 of Kurosawa's films, most of which have become world-renowned classics. In Kurosawa's pictures, especially Rashomon (1950), Mifune would become the most famous Japanese actor in the world. A dynamic and ferocious actor, he excelled in action roles, but also had the depth to plumb intricate and subtle dramatic parts. A personal rift during the filming of Red Beard (1965) ended the Mifune-Kurosawa collaboration, but Mifune continued to perform leading roles in major films both in Japan and in foreign countries. He was twice named Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival (for Yojimbo (1961) and Red Beard (1965)). In 1963 he formed his own production company, directing one film and producing several others. In his later years he gained new fame in the title role of the American TV miniseries Shogun (1980), and appeared infrequently in cameo roles after that. His last years were plagued with Alzheimer's Syndrome and he died of organ failure in 1997, a few months before the death of the director with whose name he will forever be linked, Akira Kurosawa.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Spouse (1)

Sachiko Yoshimine (1950 - 1995) (her death) (3 children)

Trade Mark (4)

Gruff characters who claim to despise shows of human weakness but who end up frequently displaying it themselves
Internationally associated almost solely with parts as samurai, both heroic and less so (despite many modern day parts in his time)
Intense, macho acting style that was often both bombastic and emotionally honest.
Often works with Akira Kurosawa

Trivia (25)

Ranked #90 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
In the Japanese animated series Speed Racer (1967) (known in the U. S. as Speed Racer), the hero was named Go Mifune as a tribute to him and the M on the hood of the Mach 5 and Speed Racers helmet was in tribute to him.
Was considered early on by George Lucas for the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (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 and Mika Mifune.
His unique acting style is referenced by several characters in the Danish film Mifune (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 Seven Samurai (1954).
Due to his intense, intimidating screen presence and real-life status as a physically 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. It was not uncommon for people to believe that he was at least 6'4" or taller. In reality he stood 5' 9". However, even at this size he was indeed two or three inches taller than most of his male co-stars.
Close friend of Scott Glenn.
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 Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto in three separate films, has played both the real-life version of the indomitable warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu in Journey of Honor (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 Yojimbo (1961) is ranked #78 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
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 the role of "Mr. Miyagi" in The Karate Kid (1984) 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 his honor.
Favorite actor of Akira Kurosawa.
Was present at the 1980 Golden Globe Awards, when Shogun (1980) was competing. He drew out the winner for Best Dramatic Series from the envelope and said, "And the winner is . . . ", which was all the English he knew.
Became friendly with numerous American actors on their visits to Japan including Charlton Heston and William Holden.
Was scheduled to star with Peter O'Toole in "Will Adams" to be directed by John Huston with screenplay by Dalton Trumbo, and produced by Eugene Frenke and Jules Buck. "A daring adventurer challenges the traditions of a mighty empire".
Buried at a graveyard up the hill from Ikuta station (Odakyu line) in Kawasaki City next to Tokyo.

Personal Quotes (10)

[about Akira Kurosawa] I am proud of nothing I have done other than with him.
[about speaking English] I can't speak English, Instead memorize English lines by the sounds of the words.
I'm not always great in pictures, but I'm always true to the Japanese spirit.
[on the xenophobia displayed by his fellow troops in the Japanese army during World War II] There I was, a naive man of 20. The other bewildered young recruits were stirred up to a blood lust. What a nightmare!
That the Japanese film is known at all in the West is due mainly to the pictures of Akira Kurosawa. That I am known both here and abroad is also mainly due to him. He taught me practically everything I know, and it was he who first introduced me to myself as an actor. Kurosawa has this quality, this ability to bring things out of you that you never knew were there. It is enormously difficult work, but each picture with him is a revelation. When you see his films, you find them full realizations of ideas, of emotions, of a philosophy which surprises with its strength, even shocks with its power. You had not expected to be so moved, to find within your own self this depth of understanding.
I still ride horses and do a lot of laughing. But I was born this way. I can't help it. When I was young, I played old men's roles. But now I'm a little boy!- on the secret of his well-being
He was a rather complex person and a perfectionist. A scene with a famous actress wasn't going so well, so Mizoguchi dismissed everyone for the day so they could quietly talk. He was a stickler for props. If an object was to be used in the movie for tea time, he might look at it and say, 'This is a reproduction!' He would close down the set and order the prop man, 'Get the original in Kyoto.' - on 'Kenji Mizoguchi'
No matter how much I drank the night before. I never once was late on his films. But with Kurosawa, sometimes people are waiting, and he never shows up. The people go to his house, and he says, 'I'm sorry. I don't feel well today.'
Rashomon (1950) was a failure in Japan. We had no idea that it had been submitted to Venice. Kurosawa didn't go to the festival, neither did I. And hardly anyone knew it won the grand prize. There was a small article in a Japanese newspaper, that was all.
After the War, I looked up my friend and asked if I could be a cameraman too. That's how I got to Toho. But Toho was on strike for most of three years, and lots of the acting stars went elsewhere. My friends submitted my resume and my photograph, unbeknownst to me.- on how he went from aspiring photographer to actor

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