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Hiroyuki Sanada Talks ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’, Working With Keanu Reeves Again & More – Interview

The highly anticipated John Wick: Chapter 4 is now in theaters! If you haven’t scene it yet, do yourself a huge favor and head to the theater RIGHT NOW! Leading up to its premiere, Geeks of Color had the opportunity to sit down with some of the new cast that joined the franchise. We first sat down with Shamier Anderson, followed by a discussion with the legend, Hiroyuki Sanada. 

For those unfamiliar, Sanada is a Japanese actor with a long and illustrious career spanning several decades. Sanada has acted in numerous films and television series in Japan and throughout the world, earning him a reputation as one of the most talented actors of his generation. Sanada is known for his dynamic performances and ability to bring depth and authenticity to his roles.

Sanada appeared in the critically acclaimed 1998 Japanese film Ring, which is credited with popularizing the J-horror genre. He also starred in the 2003 film The Last Samurai alongside Tom Cruise, earning praise for his portrayal of a samurai warrior during the Meiji Restoration. Sanada has also appeared in other popular films such as The Wolverine, Sunshine, and Rush Hour 3. More recently, Sanada portrayed the iconic Scorpion in the latest Mortal Kombat movie that was released theatrically and on HBO Max. 

Watch the interview with Hiroyuki Sanada for John Wick: Chapter 4 below:

In John Wick: Chapter 4, Sanada portrays Shimazu, the proprietor of the Osaka Continental Hotel. He is one of the few people Wick actually trusts–which is very important when it comes to this universe. 

This isn’t Sanada’s first time working with Keanu Reeves. The two first worked together on the film Sanada said, “I worked with Keanu before in 47 Ronin and when we finished the shooting, he told me that my next project is a big action movie with Chad (Stahelski). And then I said, ‘Good luck.’ [laughs] I watched the movie at the theater opening day. And then I saw one, two, and three, and finally, Chad called me and said, ‘I created a role for you– please, say yes.'” [laughs] 

About his character in the film, Sanada said, “My role is Koji Shimazu, an old friend of John Wick. And we’ve grown up together, trained together, working together, and sometimes killing somebody together–maybe. Like a brother.”

Hiroyuki Sanada - John Wick: Chapter 4
(Courtesy of Lionsgate)

In this film, Sanada’s character has a daughter named Akira who is played by famous Japanese-British singer Rina Sawayama. Sanada said, “But when I had a daughter, I decided to go to the peaceful life. Then I chose another position as a manager of Osaka Continental Hotel and am spending a peaceful life, until John Wick visited my hotel–and then something’s gonna happen.” 

Since Reeves and Sanada were reuniting, I asked him if there were any fun behind the scenes moments from the set of the film. Sanada shared, “We had fun all the time! Sometimes, you know, we had lunch together, a drink together, or sometimes reading session together and then spin some ideas.”

Sanada shared that one of his favourite scenes was one where Koji and Wick share a glass of whiskey together. Of the scene Sanada said, “I  love the scene between Keanu and I, drinking whiskey and just chat chat. No action, just talking. But I think we could use the chemistry from our own friendship or long time knowing each other. So easy to make a scene feel like we are drinking real whiskey, you know? [laughs] Just looking to each other, we can talk with something in our eyes. So, I really enjoyed that scene.” 

John Wick: Chapter 4 is now in theaters.

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