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Hot on the heels of his role as African superhero and king Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman has been officially confirmed to play the role of Yasuke, a historical African-born man who became a samurai.
The new film, titled simply Yasuke, is being produced under Erik Feig’s Picturestart, as well as De Luca Productions, Solipsist, and X●ception Content. Doug Miro (Netflix series Narcos) is writing the script.
Yasuke was originally brought to Japan in 1579 as a slave to Jesuit missionaries, the first black man to set foot on Japanese soil. He later entered warlord Oda Nobunaga’s service in 1581. Yasuke earned the friendship and respect of Nobunaga, and eventually the honor, sword, and title of samurai.
“The legend of Yasuke is one of history’s best kept secrets, the only person of non-Asian origin to become a Samurai,” Boseman said. “That’s not just an action movie, that’s a cultural event, an exchange, and I am excited to be part of it.”
It’s worth pointing out that Yasuke wasn’t the only non-Asian person to become a samurai – English explorer William Adams had also entered Japan during the roughly same time period, only to enter the service of Nobunaga’s successor, Tokugawa Ieyasu, as a nobleman and a samurai.
The Yasuke project has been circulating for awhile now, with Feig and the producers having started it back at Lionsgate when he headed production at the studio. MGM has a rivaling Yasuke project, with a script by Stuart C. Paul, with Whalerock Industries’ Lloyd Braun and Andrew Mittman producing.
A schedule for production on the Yasuke film hasn’t been confirmed.