Hiroyuki's Profile

Real name:

Shimozawa Hiroyuki




170cm (5.6 ft )

Previously known as:

Duke, Harry, Henry, Hiroyuki Shimosawa

Blood type:



English, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese

Zodiac Sign:



Nihon University, Film Department.


Father (deceased), mother (deceased), ex-wife (Satomi Tezuka), two sons

Other Skills:

Singing, dancing, playing musical instruments, horse-riding, sword fighting, cooking, lyrics writing.


Hiroyuki Sanada was born Hiroyuki Shimozawa in Japan on 12th October 1960. His father came from an agricultural background, farming deep in the mountains, while his mother's family were fishermen from a small island in Japan.

He started his acting career very young, joining the Himawari Drama Company and becoming a magazine model at just five years of age.

He also started his acting career when he was only 5 years old in the Shinichi 'Sonny' Chiba film Game of Chance, but shortly after stopped everything to go to school.

Sadly, at the age of 11, he lost his father. That same year he started to learn karate. At 13, he joined the Japan Action Club theater group and started to learn jazz dance. This awesome super-kicker also learned horse riding and graduated from the Horikoshi Gakuen high school, a school that specializes in young "talento."
Hiroyuki Sanada made his second movie debut, and his first big impression at the age of 18 under the name Hiroyuki Sanada in Yagyu Ichizoku no Inbo (Shogun Samurai), another Shinichi 'Sonny' Chiba film.

Even though he started his career as an action star, he was later recognized for his acting talents as his fame increased. Apparently, Hiroyuki Sanada is a rare animal in the Japanese entertainment world - an "engi-ha" or actor who can really act. This is probably the greatest compliment that an actor can be paid in Japan, superfluous though it would seem elsewhere. And Sanada san is one of the very few who have had the courage to prove this outside Japan. Like the late Toshiro Mifune or Ken Takakura who have proved themselves abroad, Sanada-san is much in demand for serious films.
The early years of his acting career were spent mostly in similarly low-budget samurai and ninja movies. He became quite popular as a martial artist abroad and used the nicknames "Henry" or "Duke" Sanada. After graduating in Film Science from the Nihon University College of Art in 1982, he appeared in the historic action film Shogun's Ninja, performing his own stunts, a feat that earned him acclaim. In 1984, his groundbreaking work in Mahjong Vagrant Life (Mahjong Horoki) boosted him to stardom.

While working with Shinichi 'Sonny' Chiba, Hiroyuki Sanada began a small career in Hong Kong, with the 1982 flick Ninja in the Dragon's Den. Working with Corey Yuen as director and Conan Lee as co-star, he was able to show off some of the skills he learned with Chiba-san. In 1986, Royal Warriors was the last Hong Kong movie that he worked on to date. He even trained Michelle Yeoh in a leg scissor takedown move in the opening sequence.

Hiroyuki Sanada is nothing if not extremely versatile. He starred in the Ringu/Ringu 2/Rasen (Ring/Spiral, 1998) horror series that was so successful as to be remade in Hollywood in 2002.

In 2000, he became the first Japanese actor to ever appear with the Royal Shakespeare Company, putting in a creditable English performance in London as King Lear's Fool.

He was honoured for his outstanding work in this with the Member of the British Empire (MBE), awarded by Queen Elizabeth II.

In 1987, he won the Golden Arrow award for Best Newcomer for his performance on stage in Little Shop of Horrors. His movie accolades are even more impressive - he's won the Best Actor prize at the Japan Academy Awards no less than five times. Most recent was for his lead role in the critically acclaimed Tasogare Seibei aka The Twilight Samurai, 2002, which was directed by Yoji Yamada, and was also nominated for an Oscar this year in the Best Foreign Film Category. At the time of the Japanese awards show, he was in New Zealand filming the Tom Cruise movie, The Last Samurai.

On working with the Hollywood star he said: "When I first met him, he'd already learned Japanese fighting for eight months. But some parts looked western, so I gave him some pointers on grip or stance or how to use his eyes. We trained a lot together. I taught him some forms to make his movement more authentic Japanese. And he was a good learner and a hard worker. Quick learner. Every day he improved, more authentic. So we had a good relationship and we've enjoy rehearsal on the set."

Commenting on the scene in the The Last Samurai where Ujio nearly beheads Captain Algren, Hiroyuki Sanada said - “I play Ujio, I’m a master swordsman. I’ve learned martial arts including Kendo sword fighting for over 30 years in Japan. One time when I attack Tom; when I start swinging, Tom’s neck was here…” he laughs, as he shows how close it was. “Argh! and everybody was screaming on set, you know, and I managed to stop just an inch from his neck. He has a poker face and just says ‘I believed you’.”

He has also starred in a host of other TV series, over 50 movie productions and has even released several albums.

In 1990, he married actress Tezuka Satomi. The couple had two sons but they divorced in 1997.
Throughout his career he has won many awards and international critical acclaim for his work, and today, he continues to work in films and television in Japan, as well as in his The Last Samurai, where he made quite an impact.

Quick Facts:Edit


Hiroyuki Sanada

* Hiro married actress Satomi Tezuka in 1990, they later divorced in 1997.
* Hiro began to model for magazine covers at the age of 5.
* Hiro had to learn Mandarin for his role in Mo Gik (Wuji - The Promise).
* Hiro is a senior member of Japan Action Club.
* Hiro is a protege and disciple of Sonny Chiba.
* At the age of 29, Hiro lost his mother.
* At the age of 31, his fist son was born.
* At the age of 36, his second child was born.
* Hiro's ex-wife has custody of their two sons.
* Hiro appeared in the endorsement for Masatomo in 1999.
* Hiro appeared in the TV commercial for Suntory in 1998.
* Hiro currently lives in LA, USA (2011)
* Hiro was in an english language production of "King Lear" with the Royal Shakespeare Co From 1999 to 2000. He received an honorary MBE (Memberof the British Empire)

All info are taken from: Sanada Corner