Toshiro Mifune – The Muse of Akira Kurosawa

Toshiro Mifune

Hello again everyone, hope we all had a great week. This week’s celebrity is all the way from Japan. One of the oldest and well known Japanese actors, Toshiro has served in the Japanese Imperial Army in the Arial Photography Unit during World War II. A star of many Japanese films and becoming popular in the Western film industry, Toshiro left a mark in Japan and Hollywood, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Here are some facts about Toshiro.

Toshiro Mifune was born on 1 April 1920 in Qingdao, Shandong, China, to Japanese parents. His parents were Methodist missionaries working there.

Mifune first encountered director Akira Kurosawa when Toho Studios, the largest film production company in Japan, conducted a talent search. It was an event which hundreds of aspiring actors auditioned before a team of judges.

Japanese director, Akira Kurosawa, was going to skip the auditions, but ultimately decided to show up when he was told that there was one actor who seemed promising. When an exhausted Mifune finished his audition, he sat down and gave the judges an ominous stare. He lost the competition, however, Kurosawa, had found his muse.

He became the most famous Japanese actor of his time. Easily the best known to Western audiences due to his imposing bearing, acting range, facility with foreign languages and lengthy partnership with acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa.

A lot of the time, Mifune portrayed samurai or rōnin who were usually coarse and gruff, inverting the popular stereotype of the genteel, clean-cut samurai

Mifune was also known for the effort he put into his performances. In order to prepare for Seven Samurai and Rashomon, Mifune reportedly studied footage of lions in the wild. While for Ánimas Trujano, he studied tapes of Mexican actors speaking, so he could recite all his lines in Spanish.

According to his daughter, Mifune turned down an offer from George Lucas to play Darth Vader or Obi Wan Kenobi.

In 1997, he died in Mitaka, Tokyo, aged 77. Mifune was survived by his two sons, his daughter, a grandson and two granddaughters.

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