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Toshiro Mifune 
Written by: on July 18th, 2004

“Weep.”Casting director
“Why? I’m not sad.”Mifune
“Okay, be angry,”Casting director
Mifune would terrorize the actors waiting for auditions while he tore the place up.
“Get that madman out of here.”Casting director
Akira Kurosawa had just entered the room.
“Wait, Perhaps there’s something here that I can use.”Kurosawa

Toshiro Mifune was born on April 1st, 1920 in Tsingtao, China. Some of the greatest films made are forged because of great collaborations between Actor and Director, happening often in Asian cinema. For example, director John Woo filmed five features with Chow Yun-Fat. Kurosawa worked with Mifune who was “a kind of talent I had never encountered before” an impressive number of sixteen times. Mifune’s raw acting skill was so prominent; George Lucas considered giving him the role of Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars.

Toshiro Mifune from Manchuria lost everything he had from the war. Both his family and his home were gone. Discharged from Kyushu Air Base, Toshiro was unemployed in Japan, a place very alien to him. Hearing of an opening as a cameraman at Toho studios, Mifune thinks he’s found his big break. During the war, Mifune’s prior experience was taking aerial photographs during sorties. Seeing the hundreds of applicants, he feels that there’s little hope.

“The speed of his movements was such that he said in a single action what took ordinary actors three separate movements to express. He put forth everything directly and boldly, and his sense of timing was the keenest I had ever seen in a Japanese actor. And yet with all his quickness, he also had surprisingly fine sensibilities.” – Akira Kurosawa

When his turn comes, unknowingly, he was trying for Toho “new faces” contest at Toho Studios. Mifune was badgered relentlessly to show expressions and refused. During this audition, Akira Kurosawa enters to watch Mifune’s refusal to try out as an actor. This hostility was exactly what Kurosawa was looking for, within two movies, became an acclaimed international actor.

Rashomon and Yojimbo is perhaps his most noted works of his time. Mifune also worked on an American TV miniseries “Shogun” and other cameo roles Named Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival twice and placed in Empire’s “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time, Mifune had some reservations. American films would dub him, even though Mifune knew English. This devastated him. Toshiro Mifune died in Tokyo in 1997. “The Wolf” will and always will remain to be one of the brightest stars on the silver screen.

Trivia

Learned English to portray the character. Izo Yamura, in GRAND PRIX (1966).

In the Japanese animated series “Mach gogo” (known here in the U. S. as Speed Racer), the hero was named Go Mifune; the name was chosen in tribute to Toshiro Mifune.

Even though Mifune knew how to speak English, 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.

Reportedly watched films of lions in the wild for inspiration for his character in “Shichinin no samurai.”

Filmography:

Deep River (1995)
Picture Bride (1994)
Journey of Honor (1992)
Shadow of the Wolf (1992)
Strawberry Road (1991)
The Demon Comes in Spring (1989)
Death of a Tea Master (1989)
Commercial Film Girl (1988)
Princess from the Moon (1987)
Tora-san Goes North (1987)
Sicilian Connection (1987)
Genkai tsurezure-bushi (1986)
No More God, No More Love (1985)
Natsu no deai (1984) (TV)
Umitsubame Jyo no kiseki (1984)
Moetechiru hono no kenshi Okita Sohji (1984) (TV)
Theatre of Life (1983)
Suronin makyosashodani no himitsu (1983) (TV)
Makyo sessho-tani no himitsu (1983) (TV)
Suronin makaritoru dai gobu namida ni kieru mikka gokuraku (1983) (TV)
Battle Anthem (1983)
Suronin makaritoru dai yonbu sarumo jigoku nokorumo jigoku (1983) (TV)
Shiawase no kiiroi hankachi (1982) (TV)
Conquest (1982)
Suronin makaritoru dai sanbu chikemuri no yado (1982) (TV)
Shingo juban shobu dai sanbu ai ni iki-ken ni ikiru seishun (1982) (TV)
Sword of the Ninja (1982)
Suronin makaritoru dai nibu akatsuki no shito (1982) (TV)
Shingo juban shobu dai nibu (1982) (TV)
Musumeyo! Ai to namida no tsubasa de tobe (1981) (TV)
The Bushido Blade (1981)

Suronin makaritoru (1981) (TV)
Kyukei no koya (1981) (TV)
Shingo juban shobu dai ichibu (1981) (TV)
Inchon (1981)
“Shogun” (1980) (mini) TV Series
Shogun (1980) (TV)
The Battle of Port Arthur (1980)
1941 (1979)
Omitsu doshin o Edo sosamo (1979)
The Adventures of Kosuke Kindaichi (1979)
Winter Kills (1979)
The Godfather: Resolution (1978)
The Yagyu Conspiracy (1978)

Tono Eijirô no mito komon (1978)
Lord Incognito (1978)
Last of the Ako Clan (1978)

Lady Ogin (1978)
Dog Flute (1978)
Otoko no shiken (1977)
Japanese Godfather: Ambition (1977)
Proof of the Man (1977)
Midway (1976)
Paper Tiger (1975)
“Ronin of the Wilderness” (1972) TV Series
Red Sun (1972)
Turning Point of Showa History: The Militarists (1970)
One Soldier’s Gamble (1970)
The Ambush: Incident at Blood Pass (1970)
The Restoration of Meiji (1970)
Zatoichi Vs. Yojimbo (1970)
Band of Assassins (1969)
Red Hair (1969)
Battle of the Japan Sea (1969)
5,000 Kilometers to Glory (1969)
Wind-Fire-Forest-Mountain (1969)
Hell in the Pacific (1968)
The Day the Sun Rose (1968)
Admiral of the Grand Fleet: Isoroku Yamamoto (1968)
The Sands of Kurobe (1968)
The Emperor and the General (1967)
Samurai Rebellion (1967)

Grand Prix (1966)
10,000 Miles of Stormy Seas (1966)
Adventure in the Strange Castle (1966)
Sword of Doom (1966)
Rise Against the Sword (1966)
Fort Graveyard (1965)
Miraculous Military Operation in the Pacific Ocean, Kiska (1965)
Sanshiro Sugata (1965)
Red Beard (1965)
Samurai Assassin (1965)
Whirlwind (1964)
The Adventures of Sinbad (1963)
Legacy of the Five Hundred Thousand (1963)
High and Low (1963)
Wings Over the Pacific (1963)
47 Ronin (1962)
Zoku shachô yôkôki (1962)
Tatsu (1962)
The Important Man (1962)
Sanjuro (1962)

The Youth and His Amulet (1961)
Yojimbo (1961)
Salary Man Chushingura, Part 2 (1961)
Devil in the Castle (1961)
Salary Man Chushingura (1960)
The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
Man Against Man (1960)
Hawaii-Midway Battle of the Sea and Sky: Storm in the Pacific Ocean (1961)
The Gambling
Samurai (1960)
The Last Gunfight (1960)
Age of the Gods (1959)
Independent Gangsters (1959)
Saga of the Vagabonds (1959)
Life of an Expert Swordsman (1959)
Boss of the Underworld (1959)
The Hidden Fortress (1958)
Theater of Life (1958)
All About Marriage (1958)
Yaji and Kita’s Travel Journey (1958)
Wild Matsu, the Rickshaw Man (1958)
Tokyo Holiday (1958)
Yagyu Secret Scrolls: Ninjitsu – Part II (1958)
Downtown (1957)
The Lower Depths (1957)
A Dangerous Hero (1957)
Yagyu Secret Scrolls, Part I (1957)
Good Luck to These Two (1957)
Man in the Storm (1957)
Throne of Blood (1957)
Rebels on the High Sea (1956)
Scoundrel (1956)
A Wife’s Heart (1956)
Settlement of Love (1956)
The Underworld (1956)
Black Belt Sangokushi (1956)
Samurai III: Duel on Ganryu Island (1956)
What the Birds Knew (1955)
Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955)
There Was a Man (1955)
All Is Well, Part 2 (1955)
All Is Well (1955)
No. 1 Man (1955) )
Smuggling Ship (1954)
The Sound of Waves (1954)
Samurai 1: Musashi Miyamoto (1954)
The Seven Samurai (1954)
Eagle of the Pacific (1953)
Sunflower Girl (1953)
Last Embrace (1953)
The Man Who Came to Port (1952)
Swift Current (1952)
Tokyo Sweetheart (1952)
Sword for Hire (1952)
Kin no tamago: Golden girl (1952)
Saikaku: Life of a Woman (1952)
Foghorn (1952)
Duel at Keymakers’ Corner (1952)
Meeting of the Ghost of Apres-Guerre (1951)
Who Knows a Woman’s Heart? (1951)
The Life of a Horsetrader (1951)
Pirate Ship (1951)
The Idiot (1951)
Aika (1951)
Beyond Love and Hate (1951)
Escape From Prison (1950)
Rashômon (1950)
An Engagement Ring (1950)
Scandal (1950)

Conduct Report on Professor Ishinaka (1950)
Stray Dog (1949)
Jakoman and Tetsu (1949)
A Silent Duel (1949)
Drunken Angel (1948)
These Foolish Times II (1947)
These Foolish Times (1947)
Snow Trail (1947)

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