by Matt Fowler
US, February 8, 2010 - Those of you who saw Hiroyuki Sanada's new character on last week's season premiere of Lost might have recognized the actor from such English-language films as The Last Samurai, Sunshine and Rush Hour 3. But Sanada's career actually spans over 40 years, and Japanese projects such as The Twilight Samurai, The Ring and Detective Zame have made him a household name in Japan and garnered him international acclaim.
In 2000, Sanada was the first ever Japanese actor to perform with the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing the role of The Fool in King Lear opposite Nigel Hawthorne. For the role, Sanada was awarded an MBE from the Queen of England. In March, you can see Sanada opposite Anthony Hopkins in James Ivory's The City of Your Final Destination.
IGN TV had a chance to catch up with Hiro Sanada and talk to him about his new, mysterious role as Dogen, the Temple guardian.
IGN TV: Were you a fan of Lost before you joined the show?
Hiroyuki Sanada: Yeah, of course. I haven't watched all of the episodes, but most of them. But yeah, I was a big fan.
IGN: Being on Lost means being part of a big mythology, full of mysteries. Were you prepared to be a part of a show with so many secrets?
Sanada: Well, I learned that after I joined them. I knew the show because one of the cast -- Matthew Fox, who plays Jack -- I worked with him before on the movie Speed Racer. We didn't have any scenes together, but we spent a lot of time in Berlin. Dinner and drinks. So I watched Lost because of Matthew. And then after I decided to join them I had a long time until I got a script so I spent a whole month catching up on all 120 episodes. Five episodes a day. I learned everything.
IGN: How was your character, Dogen, explained to you when you took the role?
Sanada as Dogen on the final season of Lost.Sanada: When I met the creators, Damon (Lindelof) and Carlton (Cuse), they explained my character to me. He was kind of a doctor who had lived on The Island for a long time. I asked them why a Japanese man would be living on The Island and how he might have come to The Island. So now I know why and how, but I can't tell you. (laughs)
IGN: How would you describe Dogen yourself?
Sanada: He's living on The Island to save The Island. So maybe he's sacrificing his life to save The Island. Nobody knows if he's a good guy or a bad guy. It's still secret. He's mysterious. But he has his reasons. He's on his own mission.
IGN: What did you think of the outfit you had to wear? And the long hair?
Sanada: I thought it was good. Because he'd been living there a long time. He's kind of a Temple Master. Maybe he created the atmosphere and how everyone dresses. He might have promoted himself Island Master and said "you guys all have to work with me." So he created his costume and everything I think. But it was so hot there. Shooting in Hawaii and wearing the long vest. It was very hot.
IGN: You've had a very long career and done movies, TV and theater. Is there one thing that's your favorite?
Sanada: I grew up in Tokyo. I was a child actor. When I was 5 years old I starred in movies and TV. And then I went to the theater too. So I've done everything. But when I did the Shakespeare play [King Lear] in London with the Royal Shakespeare Company, that experience changed my life. Mixing cultures and making something new is difficult, but it's so interesting and important to me. So after that I chose projects where I could work with Western culture and mix it together with Eastern culture. That's why I chose The Last Samurai. And that was a big moment for me.
- FOX SearchlightSanada as Kaneda in Boyle's Sunshine.IGN: You and Michelle Yeoh were good friends long before the two of you appeared in Sunshine, right?
Sanada: Yes, a long time ago we worked together in a Hong Kong action film [Royal Warriors]. So then over 20 years later I worked with her in Sunshine. Sunshine was another big moment for me because our cast and crew was special. And so was our director Danny Boyle. And for two weeks we lodged together in a student house. Danny Boyle wanted to create the atmosphere that we all spent a long time together in a small space. That experience was so great. I felt that there were no more walls between our cultures or our countries. We can share everything from now on. That was a special experience for me too.
IGN: So then which do you prefer, the closed sets of Sunshine or the sweltering outdoor set of Lost?
Sanada: I liked them both. I was very comfortable on the set of Lost. I was so nervous when I went on to the set because I had just watched all the Lost episodes. I was like a fan. A big fan. I knew Matthew but I didn't know anyone else except for who they played on the show. So I was like "Oh my gosh, Sawyer's there. And there's Kate." I was like a kid going to Disneyland for the first time. (laughs) That was fun. http://uk.tv.ign.com/articles/106/1067506p1.html