Document 67980

(L to R, foreground) Kai (KEANU REEVES) signs an oath in front of Oishi (HIROYUKI SANADA) and the Ronin.
KEANU REEVES leads an all-star international
cast in the action-adventure 47 Ronin. After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind,
47 leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and
restore honor to their people. Driven from their homes
and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must
seek the help of Kai (Reeves)—a half-breed they
once rejected—as they fight their way across a savage
world of mythic beasts, shape-shifting witchcraft and
wondrous terrors.
As this exiled, enslaved outcast becomes their most
deadly weapon, he will transform into a hero who
inspires this band of outnumbered rebels to confront
the evil taking over their land and seize eternity.
Based upon the epic story that has become one of
Japan’s most enduring legends, this extraordinary tale
of unbelievable courage has its origins in the early 18th
century, when 47 noble samurai honored the untimely
death of their master by avenging him.
In this groundbreaking reimagining of the national
legend of Japan—a fascinating tale that has been
passed along and elaborated upon through different
interpretations in various media across the ages—the
legend of the Ronin’s ultimate sacrifice and undying
honor is now reborn for an entirely new generation.
Joining Reeves for this epic 3D action-adventure
are a select cast of Japanese superstars who are not only
beloved in their native country, but who have honed
their talents across the globe. They are HIROYUKI
SANADA (Sunshine, The Last Samurai) as Oishi,
the indisputable leader of the samurai; TADANOBU
ASANO (The Wolverine, Thor: The Dark World) as
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(L to R, center) Shogun Tsunayoshi (CARY-HIROYUKI TAGAWA) and Lord Kira (TADANOBU ASANO) approach Princess Mika (KO SHIBASAKI).
Lord Kira, the treacherous villain who will stop at
nothing to destroy his enemies; Academy Award®nominated actress RINKO KIKUCHI (Babel, Pacific
Rim) as the Witch, a shape-shifting siren who executes
Kira’s every request in his search for ultimate power;
and KO SHIBASAKI (The Lady Shogun and Her Men,
One Missed Call) as Mika, their master’s daughter and
the impossible, eternal love of Kai’s life.
With 47 Ronin, director CARL RINSCH (The Gift)
brings to life the stunning landscapes and enormous
battles that display the timeless story in a way that’s
never been seen before. Joining him for the film are
producers PAMELA ABDY (Identity Thief, Endless
Love) and ERIC MCLEOD (Mr. & Mrs. Smith,
Unstoppable), and the team works from a screenplay
by CHRIS MORGAN (Fast & Furious series, Wanted)
and HOSSEIN AMINI (Drive, Wings of the Dove)
and a screen story by Chris Morgan and WALTER
HAMADA (The Conjuring, The Final Destination).
Rinsch leads an accomplished behind-the-scenes
crew comprised of two-time Academy Award®nominated cinematographer JOHN MATHIESON
(Gladiator, Robin Hood), two-time Oscar®-nominated
production designer JAN ROELFS (Fast & Furious 6,
World Trade Center), editor STUART BAIRD (Skyfall,
Casino Royale), costume designer PENNY ROSE
(Evita, Pirates of the Caribbean series), special effects
supervisor PAUL CORBOULD (Captain America:
The First Avenger, Mamma Mia!), Oscar®-nominated
visual effects supervisor CHRISTIAN MANZ (Harry
Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Nanny McPhee
Returns) and composer ILAN ESHKERI (Stardust,
47 Ronin is executive produced by Bluegrass
Films’ SCOTT STUBER (Ted, Identity Thief),
CHRIS FENTON (Whisper, The Vatican Tapes) and
Walter Hamada.
Half-Bloods and
Mythical Creatures:
Who’s Who in 47 Ronin:
Kai is an outsider in an ethereal 1800s Japan, a world
of intense brutality and undeniable beauty, a time when
history and fantasy meet. When his forbidden love is
stolen from him, he is left broken and lost. Navigating
a breathtaking landscape populated with seductive
witches with nightmarish powers, mythic beasts and a
deadly secret society of demon monks, Kai must join
a brotherhood of outsiders on their shared mission of
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revenge. Below is a brief guide to those who play a part their master’s death. As he realizes what he must do,
in this fantastic reimagining of an ancient world:
Oishi sees that the last person he wants to join their
Kai (Keanu Reeves) is an orphan who grew up ranks is the very warrior who he needs most: Kai.
in the village of Ako, where he was rejected for
Lord Kira’s (Tadanobu Asano) ancestors
being a half-blood. Trained as a child by supernatural
sacrificed their lives to put the Shogun’s family
creatures called the Tengu, Kai fled when he realized on the throne. While Kira has a place by the Shogun’s
that he did not want to become like them. Rescued from side, he is feverishly jealous that his master has chosen
the forest by Lord Asano, he is an agile fighter who is
to honor Lord Asano’s province of Ako. With the help
secretly in love with Asano’s daughter, Mika. When his of the Witch, Kira plots to bring down Asano, marry
master is tricked into an early death, Kai joins Oishi
Asano’s daughter, Mika, and take control of Ako
and the Ronin (masterless samurai) to seek vengeance
province…watching his ill-begotten empire grow piece
upon the treacherous Lord Kira. Little do they know by piece.
that their new leader fights with the power of a demon
The Witch (Rinko Kikuchi) is an evil, shapeand holds secrets that will change their destinies.
shifting ancient creature who does Lord Kira’s
Lord Asano (MIN TANAKA) is a feudal lord
bidding and uses reality as her plaything. Kira commands
who rules the Ako province with a strong-yet- the seductive siren to use her powers to transform into
fair fist. He and his samurai came upon 13-year-old Kai other people and creatures to help him bring down the
in the forest and took Kai in when the half-blood was house of Lord Asano and achieve his goal to dominate
but a child. Asano has witnessed the growing attraction
the country. Her gleaming blue eye remains in any form
between his daughter and Kai, but tradition dictates
that she takes.
that this union shall never be allowed in this lifetime.
Chikara (JIN AKANISHI) is Oishi’s 16-yearMika (Ko Shibasaki) is Lord Asano’s daughter
old son, a young man who yearns to be an
and has been in love with Kai ever since they met honorable samurai like his father. Kai secretly trains
as children. She will do anything to protect the stranger
Chikara in the ways of the Tengu and teaches him
shunned by almost everyone in her village, even if it unconventional fighting techniques that will one day
means being forced to marry Lord Kira to save Kai’s life.
save him. Young Chikara accompanies his father to
Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada) is Lord Asano’s tophelp the Ronin avenge their master’s death.
ranking samurai
officiant. When Asano
is forced to commit
ritual suicide—after he
is falsely accused of
attacking fellow feudal
Lord Kira—Oishi and
his fellow samurai
are forced to live as
Ronin. Traveling the
countryside for several
years, Oishi gathers the
A giant Brute (NEIL FINGLETON) prepares to annihilate one of Lord Asano’s samurai.
Ronin to help avenge
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Kai is revealed to be the warrior.
Shogun Tsunayoshi (CARY-HIROYUKI
TAGAWA) is the lord of the provinces and master
of all Japan. Lord Asano welcomes the Shogun, along
with the other daimyos (feudal lords), to Ako and hosts
a gathering to display solidarity between the clans. In
honor of the Shogun’s visit, Asano holds a tournament
between the clans’ best fighters. Yet, disgrace will come
soon enough to Asano, and a price must be paid.
The armored giant Brute (NEIL FINGLETON)
who fights for Lord Kira is clad in battle gear
inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s most horrific delirium.
This virtually indestructible warrior stands almost
eight-feet tall in his armor, rides a monstrous warhorse
and wields his black sword with lightning speed. It’s
thought that no one of this Earth can possibly stop
him…not even Kai.
Commanded by the Tengu Lord (TOGO
IGAWA), the Tengu monks are supernatural
creatures that live in the Tengu Forest, also known as
the “sea of trees.” They raised Kai after his mother
abandoned him as a baby and taught him how to fight
at the speed of light. When the Ronin seek revenge
for their master’s death, the Tengu are the creatures
to whom they come for the only weapons that could
possibly take down Kira’s massive, unstoppable army.
The tortured Ogre (Neil
Fingleton) makes his home
on a man-made Dutch island, which
is comprised of European vessels
and hosts a trading post that is a
labyrinth of vice and iniquity. This
devil-like demon has a huge red
body and fights helpless prisoners in
an arena on the island. Next up on
his fight-card list? Kai.
is the master of the fantasy
freak show whose entire body is
illustrated with gothic body art.
A subversive outlaw who runs
a fight den that pits man against monster for sheer
entertainment, he gets more than he bargained for when
Kai enters the ring against the Ogre.
Seizing Eternity:
The Ronin Are Reborn
When director Carl Rinsch read the original
treatment of the script, he admits he was intrigued by
the timeless love, elaborate settings and fantastical
creatures that were set against an actual historical
backdrop. Recalls the filmmaker: “I knew a bit about
the story of the Ronin, the traditional history of it,
but of course this is a creative iteration of that.”
After meeting with Universal to discuss, Rinsch was
sold on the project that he wanted to make as his
feature debut.
For producer Pamela Abdy, the script offered a
unique tale of a savage world and a man who would
sacrifice everything to save it. She reflects: “The story’s
themes of honor, revenge and love are universal ideas,
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and we can see ourselves in these characters and their
emotions, yearnings and injustices. Through our hero’s
journey, we are transported into an imaginative fantasy
adventure. But at its heart, the film taps into a basic
human desire to right a wrong being done to you.”
Not only were the filmmakers seeking to craft a
production that would entertain audiences, they were
committed to honor the national story of a country.
The 47 Ronin legend is beloved in Japan; indeed,
banks and schools close each year to honor these
men who gave their lives for their country. The story
has been passed down through the generations, and
tradition not only allows, but encourages the story
of the Ronin to be elaborated upon through different
media, via creative accounts known as Chushingura.
Each telling and interpretation retains the historical
construct of the Ronin, and tradition invites artistic
embellishments to it.
Discussing this time-honored method, Rinsch
offers: “The tradition of Chushingura
is the retelling of
the historical events of the 47 Ronin. It was our goal
to maintain and respect the fundamental emotions and
themes of the true history, but to view it through a
lens that made it relevant to contemporary audiences.
The global audience for movies today speaks in a
vernacular of fantasy, sciencefiction and superheroes. For myself,
the intent was to take Japanese
Ch ushingura
and give it a broad
international reach by presenting it
in a fashion that utilizes this new
Hollywood palette.”
Producer Eric McLeod agrees
with Abdy and Rinsch about being
fascinated by the tale passed down
through generations and honoring
the collective story of a country. The
filmmaker notes: “What inspired me
about working on 47 Ronin was that
I not only enjoy the historical aspect
of the film, but I also enjoy the fantasy aspect, the scope
and the world creation of it.”
When researching the film, the director drew
inspiration from the art of such masters as Miyazaki,
Hokusai and Hiroshige. Comments Rinsch: “When I
studied these paintings, I saw that there was a whole
fantasy world right there. And I thought, ‘If I can
express this world, then we’re onto something.’”
From there, Rinsch and his team began to investigate
the fantasy aspects of 47 Ronin, including creatures
that have long been a part of Japanese folklore. They
were amazed by the voluminous libraries they found.
Notes Rinsch: “You have the Yokai;
the Oni, which is
a big Japanese ogre; the Tengu warriors, which are bird
warriors. There’s this menagerie of fantasy characters
that gave us such exciting directions to explore.”
As the filmmakers locked the shooting script
and began preproduction, they found that the key
was balancing scale with character. Shares Abdy:
“The story embraces the emotions of love, pain
and sorrow, and the story needs to be quiet in those
moments. Then when we need to, it has to be big
and bold as well. Tonally, we tried to balance action
and spectacle with characters coming together and
relating to each other.”
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Lord Kira plots his takeover of Asano’s village.
Kai is comforted by Mika.
Discovering Kai:
Keanu Reeves Comes Aboard
One of the earliest efforts involved in casting
47 Ronin was to find a performer with the presence,
physicality and stamina to play the demanding role
of the film’s hero, Kai, a figure of two worlds. Keanu
Reeves, beloved by worldwide audiences for his work in
blockbuster epics such as The Matrix trilogy, in which
he gave a human center to a complex and imaginative
fantasy world, was an ideal choice and became a true
partner in the production.
“We sought Keanu very early on,” states Abdy. “He
was on board almost two-and-a-half years before we
started shooting and has always been a partner through
the whole process. He’s not only the right actor but has
been such an enthusiastic contributor to many aspects
of the production.”
“I was attracted to the world it created,” shares
Reeves. “I related to it as a Westerner. It’s a film that has
big, universal themes such as honor, revenge and love.”
In fact, Reeves worked on developing the script with
writers Morgan and Amini, actually before meeting with
Rinsch for the first time. He shares: “Chris and Hossein
have this incredible ability to bring this amazing version
of the Ronin to life that straddles the
real and the fantastic.”
Upon sitting down with Rinsch,
Reeves was struck by his vision for the
project and his fluency in the visual
language needed to bring the story
to life. The performer commends:
“Carl’s always had a connection to
the film that is based in emotion,
and he’s been open to sharing and
collaborating. He’s a terrific stylist,
and he’s been great at taking this
fictional make-believe world and
making it a real one.”
Rinsch was equally as enthusiastic
about working with his leading man. He enthuses:
“Keanu is more than just an actor. He’s a collaborator
on every level. He’s somebody whom I can turn to and
ask a question, get a thoughtful response, and it doesn’t
necessarily have to do with his character.”
For this reimaging of the 47 Ronin tale, and in
keeping with Chushingura,
the character of Kai is a
new addition to the canon. An orphaned half-blood
who trusts no one, Kai symbolizes the eternal outsider,
struggling to fit into a culture rooted in its deep sense
of nationality. Reeves says that Kai’s tale is familiar to
many: “On this journey, Kai strives to be included and
accepted; that’s a story a lot of people can relate to. This
kind of immigrant story is relatable: that yearning for
acceptance while retaining your individuality.” For the
performer, it is an honor to introduce the tale to a global
audience. He reflects: “Like all great stories, this one
works in the sense of its universality.”
An International
Supporting Cast
For Rinsch, the producers and Reeves, rounding out
the cast meant painstakingly choosing the best and the
– 30 –
brightest of Asian cinema. From action veterans and
feted Oscar® nominees to rising stars on the pop music
scene, the filmmakers handpicked an exciting cross
section of performers for the epic feature.
A staple in Japanese films who was most recently
seen in the worldwide blockbuster The Wolverine,
Hiroyuki Sanada has received six nominations for
Japanese Academy Awards, and has won twice. For
the cast and crew, the selection of Sanada as Oishi,
the leader of the samurai, meant this Western twist
on the story of the 47 Ronin had earned the seal of
Japanese approval. Sanada bore the responsibility of
making sure this new take on the beloved tale stayed
true to its source, even as it introduced fresh and
fantastical elements.
Sanada grew up with the legend and appreciated the
opportunity to explore a retelling of it. He shares: “I first
saw it on television when I was about seven. My brother
and I used to pretend we were the characters. When I
became a child actor, I always wondered when I would
play Oishi. I waited a long time, and to be offered the
role in an American film was quite a welcome surprise!
“There was a lot of pressure for me because Oishi
has been played by a lot of actors I admire,” Sanada adds.
“But this version has a lot of differences to the traditional
one. The emotion and intention are the same, but Oishi
is much more human here, with weakness, doubt and
setbacks. There’s a balance between authenticity and
fantasy, and this is a wonderful opportunity to introduce
the story to a younger Japanese audience, as well as
Japanese culture to the world. There’s something in
there for people of every country. It’s not just a Japanese
story. It’s about respect, friendship and love.”
Having worked on several Western films and with
multiple American filmmakers, Sanada reflects on the
experience of shooting with Rinsch: “On the first day of
working with Carl, I realized that he not only watched
and listened, but he has a gift for feeling the emotion
of a scene.”
Rinsch provides insight into why Sanada was
chosen to play the warrior who fights alongside Kai:
“Oishi’s character is a lamp in daylight. You don’t know
how strong he is until it gets dark. I think Hiro Sanada
is such a stoic and powerful performer; he explodes into
action when things get rough. He can fight like nobody
you’ve ever seen before.”
For his part, Sanada is just as enthusiastic about
the experience of collaborating with the film’s leading
man. “From the rehearsal period on we spent a lot
of time together, some six months,” he reflects. “We
The Witch (RINKO KIKUCHI) descends upon her prey.
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Kai is led off as a prisoner.
prepared dialogue and practiced a lot of fight scenes,
so physically and mentally we shared a lot. Keanu is
always very calm and respectful. I respect him very
much, as an actor and as a person.”
Reeves returns the kind words with a concise: “I
didn’t have a brother before, but I have one now.”
Producer Abdy extrapolates that Sanada was a
mentor for those on set: “Hiroyuki embodies the role
of Oishi. He’s a wonderfully generous actor and has
been so incredibly helpful to us in embracing the world
and understanding the culture. He handles everything
with grace, style and elegance, and he brings that to his
To play Mika, Kai’s forbidden love interest, the
filmmakers wanted an actress who could embody a regal
princess who’s willing to defy tradition. They turned to
one of Japan’s musical phenoms, the multitalented Ko
Shibasaki. Rinsch reflects: “Ko was somebody I did
not know before we started the process. She has a huge
career as a singer and has a huge facility for acting. She
has done an amazing job, and I expect she will go on to
be even more legendary in every avenue she pursues.”
Reeves sums up the relationship between Kai and
Mika: “The outsider and the princess: an impossible
love. Because it’s jeopardized and unfulfilled, Kai’s
yearning for Mika is what drives
a lot of this story.” Working with
Shibasaki has been a highlight of
filming for Reeves. He shares: “Ko is
such a rock star. She can do anything.
She has such vulnerability, elegance
and beauty in her performance.”
In taking on the role, Shibasaki
saw an opportunity for Hollywood
to tell a Japanese story from a fresh
perspective. She states: “Japanese
people tend to be shy and don’t
always express their opinions
openly. Carl always encouraged me
to feel and express things more, and
to bring out my natural expressions. He’s a kind, broadminded person, which is why I think it was so easy to
dive right in and take risks.”
Mika is desired not only by Kai, but also by the
villainous Lord Kira, who seeks to claim all the land
that belongs to Lord Asano. To portray the antagonist,
the filmmakers brought aboard Tadanobu Asano,
who has crossed the globe with one of his breakout,
signature portrayals in Ichi the Killer and rocketed to
international fame as Thor’s fellow Asgardian, Hogun,
in both Thor and Thor: The Dark World.
Asano explains a bit about his character’s motivation: “Mika is a very important person in Ako. By
controlling the princess he would be able to obtain Ako,
which is something that he has always wanted. On a
more personal level, he sees in Mika a quality of love
that he doesn’t possess; he wants to somehow control
that power to love that she symbolizes.”
Asano has long had a connection to the 47 Ronin
story. In fact, he shares a name with the feudal lord at
the heart of the story. The performer offers: “When I
was growing up, the story would appear very often on
television or in a film and my grandmother would say,
‘You’re an Asano, too.’ It’s ironic that I ended up playing
the opposite role!”
– 32 –
Instead, as the villainous Lord Kira, Asano claims
he found a simple way to identify with his dark charge.
He explains: “He might appear to be power-mad and
arrogant, but if you change your perspective a little
he can be seen as a very charming man. There is, of
course, something fundamentally wrong with him, but
that makes him a very interesting character to play.”
Asano believes the film should have a life of its
own separate from the many Japanese interpretations.
He explains: “Because this is such a popular story
in Japanese culture, it has been portrayed in many
different mediums and in many different versions. All
of these have followed a set of unspoken rules about
the story. Carl is from a different culture, so he brings
a completely new perspective and he is able to distill
the story down to its universal themes. He has created
something original that is true to the themes of the story
and also breathes new life into it.”
While Asano and Reeves do not share any dialogue
on screen, Reeves enjoyed watching him work. He
laughs: “He’s such a good bad guy. He treats life like
everything belongs to him. I saw this close-up of him
watching some dancers perform, and it was like he was
saying, ‘Of course you’re dancing for me. Everything is
for me: The moon’s for me; the sun’s for me.’”
Oscar®-nominated Rinko Kikuchi, who came to
worldwide attention with her stunning performance
in Babel and was most recently seen in Pacific Rim,
discusses her exposure to the legendary tale: “I’ve
known this story since learning about it at school,
but this film will be quite different from versions
Japanese audiences have seen before. The creatures,
sets and characters are totally new.” Brought onto the
production to play the duplicitous Witch, the actress
knew there would be challenging days ahead. “My
character doesn’t exist in the original version, but she
adds a fantasy element to this story and I had a lot of
fun with it.”
Kikuchi was thrilled to play such a strong role.
The actress sums: “It’s fun to play such a wild
female. Carl told me my part would be provocative,
sexy and wild. The Witch is a shape-shifter who is
clairvoyant and play tricks on others, but she is not a
typical witch. She has the heart of a woman, but she
just follows her instincts.”
Rinsch’s goal has been to show audiences a side
to Japan none have ever seen, while simultaneously
paying homage to her country’s cultural traditions. “The
Japanese want to see something new, too,” Kikuchi
adds. “Rather than a traditional story performed
Oishi is the indisputable leader of the Ronin.
– 33 –
it to them in a world
they can relate to.”
For the younger
members of the cast,
there was much to learn
from their counterparts. “Sanada-san is
diligent,” commends
Akanishi. “He cares
about everybody and
every little thing. He
pays attention to how
we wear our costumes
and how we move
Mika refuses to be intimidated by the Witch.
because he knows
and created just by the Japanese, we would love to so much about Japanese culture. He’s been incredibly
see this traditional story from a new angle. This film
helpful and supportive.”
strikes a perfect balance between what is universal and
While Akanishi plays the youngest of the outcasts,
something totally creative and new.”
the remainder of the principal samurai warriors was
Jin Akanishi—who is also a phenomenon in his populated by Japanese performers MASAYOSHI
native Japan, where he’s been heretofore known as a pop HANEDA as Yasuno, HIROSHI SOGABE as Hazama,
music star—plays Chikara, Oishi’s son. Abdy discusses
the character: “Chikara was forced to become a man at as Hara and SHU NAKAJIMA as Horibe. MASAYUKI
a very early age. Oishi, like any parent, just wants to
DEAI came aboard as Isogai, while YORICK VAN
protect him.” Of his on-screen portrayer, she adds: “Jin WAGENINGEN portrays the Dutch Island’s Kapitan
has done a great job with the role. He’s learned a lot on and GEDDE WATANABE plays the Troupe Leader,
the film, and I’m thrilled we cast him.”
who enables Oishi’s men in their plan to attack Kira’s
Akanishi relished the chance to join the production.
soldiers. Riku, who is Oishi’s wife and Chikara’s mother,
He elaborates upon the story of his character, who is played by NATSUKI KUNIMOTO.
is schooled by Kai in the fighting style of the Tengu:
Finally, in addition to the much respected Min
“Chikara starts off as a boy who wants to be a samurai. Tanaka, who portrays Lord Asano, longtime performer
Throughout the story, he grows up. He’s the only one and martial artist Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa joined the
who really understands Kai and treats him as a friend.”
production as Shogun Tsunayoshi, whose word in this
Abdy recalls asking Akanishi whether he and his feudal land is unquestionable law.
friends were familiar with the tale of the 47 Ronin: “He
said, ‘No, it’s something our grandfathers and fathers
talked about.’ But as we walked him through the world
Sets, Location and Design
of the film he said, ‘This is cool; my friends will love
this.’ We have an opportunity to educate the younger
The shoot for 47 Ronin was split between studio
generation in Japan about this story because we’re giving
work in Budapest and filming on expansive back-lot sets
Budapest to London:
– 34 –
at Shepperton Studios near London. Indeed, the goal for
the production team was to create a romanticized vision
of Japan from scratch. Producer McLeod sums: “A lot
of people who haven’t been to Japan have a mind’s-eye
vision of what Japan might look like. This film takes
that to another level: It’s greener, brighter.”
Reflects Abdy on the challenges that were in store
from day one: “You couple Chris and Hossein’s script
with making the film in London and Budapest, and
trying to re-create feudal Japan. It was a multilayered
process that took many talented people to pull off.”
The filmmakers knew that in order to do the
production justice, they would need to work on a
grand scale. At the same time, they needed to capture
the idiosyncrasies of life in 18th-century Japan while
honoring their desire to bring a never-before-seen take
on the national tale of this country to the big screen.
Rinsch discusses what was required: “We did
incredibly diligent research, making sure we knew the
culture and then paying respect to it by making it our
own and twisting it in a way that would make sense to
any culture. However, the Japanese have codified logic
to seemingly everyday tasks; the Westerner always has
to be careful not to offend. Something as simple as
making sure all the kimonos are worn left over right
becomes hugely important.
Only after death do you
wear it right over left. If
you are not careful, you
will end up with a cast of
walking dead.”
“Our sets are big,” reveals Abdy. “They’re elaborate. They have visualeffects set extensions. Then
there’s the detail of the
set dressing, which is as
authentic as possible, even
down to the little details
like the tea, the rooms,
the tatami mats. There’s a scene where Mika is putting
makeup on to get ready for her wedding to Lord Kira.
The detail in everything, down to the brushes and
the way that the makeup is actually placed within the
bowls—how it’s carried, the colors, the way it’s put on,
the very structure of the lipstick—there are a million of
those elements to get right in every department.”
Two-time Oscar®-nominated production designer
Jan Roelfs, who most recently designed the globetrotting juggernaut Fast & Furious 6, and his crew set
about creating 47 Ronin’s iconic locations. In Budapest,
his team built huge sets for the Ako courtyard, Dejima
Island and the Tengu Forest. While at Shepperton, they
constructed the Ako exterior and Kira’s fortress for the
film’s grand finale.
McLeod takes a moment to commend the team’s
work: “The detail is extraordinary. On the Ako set, the
trees were in full bloom with cherry blossoms. That,
itself, is such an iconic Japanese vision. The stark
contrast between Ako’s fortress, with its beautiful cherry
blossoms, and the darkness of Kira’s fortress lends itself
well to the story’s journey from beginning to end.”
In sum, 15,000 artificial cherry blossoms were
hand-tied to each tree, and the trees themselves were
so big that they had to be dismantled at source and
– 35 –
Kai is a man broken, not destroyed.
costumes, lights, cameras, action.
You’re getting to see the fun of how
the few—the Ronin—get to take
on the many. There’s arrows and
fighting and swordplay, and it takes
place through all these different
In our version of the legend,
Kai grew up in the Tengu Forest,
a set constructed by Roelfs and
his team in Budapest. Abdy was
particularly taken with this set piece.
She enthuses: “The Tengu Forest is
spectacular. It’s probably the most
The Foreman (RICK GENEST) at Dutch Island watches his captives.
fantastical element in the film, setshipped to the U.K. in sections. The sets were also
wise, and it has so many elements to it. It’s a way for
enhanced with bamboo plants—300 in total, each about the audience to dive into this mysterious place where
50-feet high—which had been shipped from Italy, as
Kai is from.”
well as 3-foot-high bonsai trees, some of which were,
Akanishi concurs, offering that his character’s
staggeringly, more than 100 years old.
first battle scene was very intimidating: “The cave,
As an example of Roelf ’s team’s work, Reeves
especially, was very strange and scary-looking, and I
walks us through the final act of the film, a siege
was impressed by how much detail the crew had put
on Kira’s fortress that was shot on the back lot at
into it. It was incredibly intricate. It was the first set for
Shepperton Studios: “The 47 Ronin have gained the me, and seeing it for the first time, I was amazed.”
cooperation of the acting troupe who are supposed to
In Budapest, the production built the surroundings
perform that night for Lord Kira. We gain access to
of Dejima Island, a Dutch-owned trading post that was
the castle and begin to strategically place ourselves subsequently consumed by land reclamation in the bay
within it. And there’s this orchestrated moment when of Nagasaki. It is here that Kai and Oishi trade blows,
we are going to try and take the life of Lord Kira and
when the latter man tries to spring Kai from captivity.
free the princess.”
McLeod believes there’s no one better than Roelfs to
The set was absolutely ideal, says Asano. “It was visualize the world of 47 Ronin. He commends: “Jan’s
perfect: ugly, cold and bare. In other words, exactly thought process, not only for the design of the film, but
right for the character of Kira.”
how it works with the complexities of the stunts and the
Reeves admits to being overwhelmed by the level
visual effects, took everything into account.”
of detail that went into building the film’s sets, in
particular, the work done on Kira’s fortress. “We had
such fantastic sets,” he proudly says. “And so much
Stunts and Martial Arts
has been achieved in-camera. There are set extensions,
special effects and creatures, but we had these big sets.
Stunt coordinator GARY POWELL, who has served
It’s old-style moviemaking: huge sets, lots of extras,
in that capacity on films from Skyfall and Quantum of
Birds of Prey:
– 36 –
Solace to Unstoppable and The Bourne Ultimatum, was was wilder. During the course of the journey, Kai and
charged with manning the fight teams. Says Rinsch:
Oishi learn each other’s fighting style.”
“Gary did an incredible job. We wanted to get as much
Reeves says Sanada helped when it came to learning
on camera as we could of the fighting, and he led the the art of the samurai sword. “Sanada-san is high-hand,
stunt team to incredible results.”
high-bar,” he enthuses. “He’s had classical training with
Reeves is no stranger to Asian fighting styles, the sword. For him, everything must have meaning. He
having learned several hand-to-hand martial arts for doesn’t want to just have action for action’s sake. Each
his role in the Matrix trilogy and in his directorial debut strike flows into the next, and he’s very cognizant.”
of Man of Tai Chi. However, training for 47 Ronin
On the Dutch Island of Dejima, Kai encounters
meant learning Japanese fighting styles that involved another fantastical creature, the Oni (ogre), played by
weaponry. He shares: “I started basic katana sword
Neil Fingleton (X-Men: First Class), who also plays
training before production and did about six weeks of
Kira’s gigantic Brute soldier in the beginning of the
that, laying the groundwork.”
film—thus allowing Fingleton his second fight of the
Kai’s fighting style blends basic, traditional movie against Reeves. Standing at an impressive 7’7”,
elements with a mythical style of fighting unique to the
Fingleton is Britain’s tallest man.
Tengu masters. As well, it is informed by his time in
Reeves believes that this was one of the toughest
captivity on Dejima Island, where he’s turned into what fights of his acting career: “That’s the challenge. How
Reeves describes as a “fighting dog.” The performer do you fight someone that tall? In terms of attack, for
elaborates: “Kai brings all these kinds of elements of me it’s about working high and low. You go for the feet,
watching samurai, learning the Tengu sword techniques you try to get inside. Neil’s a professional athlete and
and then pit-fighting techniques.”
has command of his physical skills, even if he started
Reeves shares a pivotal scene at Dejima against without much experience in stunt fighting.”
Oishi, where the freak master of ceremonies watches
Fingleton shares his experience of being the biggest
it all unfold: “During that fight, we’re getting to know man on set: “I’ve always been very proud of my height.
each other through styles and through intention. Kai
Keanu’s a good guy, and it was fun getting to know him.
has lost his mind, because he’s
been in the killing room for a
year and has been turned into
a killing animal. But Oishi
brings him back.”
swordplay himself, Sanada
remembers rehearsing this
particular scene for weeks.
The performer explains: “Oishi
is a sword master, but at that
time, Japan was peaceful, so a
lot of samurai never used their
swords. Kai was brought up in
Kai and Oishi make their way through the deadly Tengu Forest.
Tengu, and his style of fighting
– 37 –
Oishi walks among the Tengu monks.
With the fights, it was about understanding how each of
us moves, and I guess it was tougher for him because
he had to fight looking up.” He pauses. “I’m looking
down, but I’m used to that!”
The outcast samurai weren’t the only men to get
in on the action. Akanishi admits he was thrilled to
learn the physical side of his role. “I practiced sword
fighting and horse riding, and I had never done that
before,” he enthuses. “It was fun, and they are good
things to know.”
Dreaming of
Ancient Japan:
Visual Effects of 47 Ronin
Academy Award ®-nominated visual effects
supervisor Christian Manz and award-winning effects
house FRAMESTORE were charged with creating the
fantastical creatures that appear in 47 Ronin, as well as
the background extensions for the film’s magnificent sets.
Manz advises that Rinsch’s approach was
fundamentally artistic. He states: “In initial discussions
with Carl, we talked about the craft and creativity more
than the technical side. I was drawn in by seeing all
these beautiful pictures he showed me. He was very
open to listening to other people’s ideas and wanted
everything to look amazing.”
A director who cut his teeth in the world of
commercials, Rinsch’s influences came from multiple
sources. Still, the two men kept referencing one
name. “We talked about the film looking like a liveaction version of a Miyazaki film,” recalls Manz. “The
challenge was to make it feel that everything is of that
world. We wanted the design to feel grounded, but with
the hint of the fantastical running through it. It’s a Japan
that everyone thinks existed, but likely only existed in
Hokusai prints.”
Manz worked closely with Roelfs and his team to
enhance the practical work that the production designer
achieved. From extending Ako’s multiple courtyards
and paddies to creating a dark and dramatic backdrop
for Kira’s fortress—one placed atop snowy mountains
and amid plunging ravines—the department worked
around the clock.
Certainly, the most obvious work of Manz’s
department was on the film’s fantastical creatures:
the Witch’s dragon, the Oni of Dutch Island and the
fearsome creature called Kirin. One of the film’s most
spectacular sequences—a high-energy hunt in a forest
to take down the Kirin—opens the film. Abdy laughs:
– 38 –
“It’s our big car chase. Obviously, we don’t have cars
in this movie, so how better to create that pace and
vibe than with a big, giant creature in the middle of the
forest? The Kirin has energy, power and movement.”
For Manz, that scene was the most complex action
piece throughout the production. He shares: “The whole
idea is that it’s a majestic beast that’s been poisoned and
gone rabid. It’s been one of the biggest challenges: to
design the creature and work with the stunt team and
the production design team to fit it into the scene.”
Making the sequence work meant getting the action
beats precisely right. Explains Manz: “It’s all about
designing a path where the Kirin will be, making sure
that the actors are looking at it and making sure that
there’s real-world interaction with the physical creature.
We needed to do this so that later on, when it could be
put into the scene and people are reacting to it, it comes
off as a believable element.”
Sanada says the scene is an essential moment in
the adventure. “It establishes that this is a samurai
film, but with grand elements of fantasy,” he explains.
“With the Kirin monster you explain the kind of taste
the film will have. You also come to learn about Kai’s
character, because he has spiritual power and fighting
skills. For all of the actors, it was very hard to play,
because we could never see the real Kirin there. Acting
and imagination became the only weapons, and we had
to make sure that the audience believes it.”
For Fingleton, playing the Oni in his pivotal fight
scene with Kai at Dejima meant accepting the realities
of acting for visual effects. “Basically I was in a carrot
suit for about a week, which was not a good time,” he
muses. “The Oni’s got a sickle and a ball and chain, and
he’s this big monster. It was a great fight, though Keanu
beheads me at the end, which was not cool for me.”
Manz explains the practical work that went into
achieving the pivotal scene between Kai and the Oni:
“Gary Powell created the fight between Keanu and
Neil. Essentially, Carl directed that fight with the real
guys there, and we overlayed Neil with our creature
later on.”
With the help of Manz’s effects team, in postproduction, the Oni became a giant, red-hued fighting
ogre. Rinsch walks us through the process: “Neil wore
a red tracking suit and spandex, and we used him as our
base. Then we built our CG character on top of him, so
that he was fighting with Keanu, who had the advantage
of fighting against a real person. We had the advantage
of understanding lighting and real body movement, so
that the CG character would look real.”
The armored giant Brute emerges from the flames.
– 39 –
The dragon incarnation of the Witch readies her attack on Kai.
Dressing the Fantasy:
Intricate Costume Design
Crafting the costumes for the epic action-adventure
meant not just adhering to the strict practices and styles
of 18th-century Japan, but also creating looks for as
many as 900 extras, in addition to the principal cast.
The extravagant outfits were mostly handmade, and the
costume department went to great lengths to craft items
from beautiful and colorful kimonos to complex and
coded armor for the film’s many soldiers.
The biggest challenge was coming to terms
with a period of history and mountainous geography
largely unfamiliar to Western audiences. For costume
designer Penny Rose, whose experience in historical
and fantastical dress includes projects as diverse as all
four of the Pirates of the Caribbean films—as well as
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, King Arthur and
Shadowlands—the first step was, naturally, to research.
She shares: “We knew very little about 18th-century
Japan, so two people from the costume department
went to Japan to visit all the museums in Tokyo and
start amassing research. We didn’t want to replicate the
real thing, because we were making a fantasy world.
However, we did want to start with a base of the shape,
and then we built onto it.”
Rinsch describes their partnership: “Penny is a
friend of mine, someone whom I’ve known since before
the film began. In the early days, we discussed taking
some of the original designs and breathing new life into
them—giving them a style and a flair that you’ve not
seen before. She created strong silhouettes for each of
the character designs, as well as focused on specific
color palettes and textures.”
Collaborating alongside Rinsch has been successful,
Rose says. “Carl’s very visual, imaginative and clever,
and he always sees the big picture. He can be persuaded
to try things he hadn’t thought of, but then he also has
endlessly brilliant ideas out of the blue. He’s wonderful
to work with because he’s excited about the visual side
of the film.”
One of Rinsch’s most memorable ideas was to recreate the look of a Japanese screen in costume form.
“For Mika’s handmaidens, we made a cape with a
blossom tree embroidered on the back,” Rose details.
“When they stand together, you can see the entire tree.
It worked beautifully.”
Sanada, the film’s champion of authenticity,
commends the hard work of Rose and her team: “It’s
– 40 –
been very hard for Penny because of the stark difference
she states: “Kai is a lost boy. He’s always dressed in
between Eastern and Western culture. But she’s done
patchy, ragged clothes and is a comfortable dresser.
incredibly well. She was absolutely the best person to
Oishi, meanwhile, has incredibly glamorous clothes.
do the film.”
Each of his costumes is very complex, with four or five
The hard work began with the creation of more than components, and he has about 10 or so looks throughout
1,000 simple white under-kimonos, the basis for each
the film. We worked closely with Hiroyuki, and he was
of the film’s costumes. “We stuck to tradition in the very interested in the detail.”
basic formation of the costume and then went a bit off
For Shibasaki’s Mika, Rose turned her attention
the beaten path with the fabrics,” says Rose.
to high fashion. She shares: “We looked at all of the
As was true of all departments, the costumers
houses that had done Oriental-flavored collections—
needed to collaborate closely with production designer like Dior in the ’90s, Givenchy in the ’60s and, of
Roelfs’ group. Rose shares: “It’s been an honor working course, Alexander McQueen. We took elements of
with Jan, because the sets are magnificent. We partnered those designs and blended them with the traditional.
together to create shapes and colors that work within his
Mika has her own color scheme, too, of peach,
designs and to make sure all the patterns didn’t clash.”
tangerine and very soft pastels. Everything is silk and
The design elements permeate the entire world of 47
has a high collar.”
Ronin. Whether it is through the armor of the horsemen
Rose describes Asano’s evil Lord Kira as the
or the deceptively simple outfits of the villagers, the
dandy of the group. “He wears crystals and jewels and
audience may quickly identify the powerful allegiances a lot of decoration, but always with the same broadof each character. “Ako, the happy place, is in red,” shouldered silhouette,” she explains. “He’s definitely a
explains Rose. “The world of the villain, Kira, is in
snappy dresser.”
purples, and then the Shogun’s world is gold with a bit
Kikuchi is effusive about the outfits Rose designed
of turquoise.”
for her character. She shares: “The costumes that Penny
In a workshop in Budapest, approximately 400 sets prepared for me made me realize what the Witch is all
of armor were painstakingly handmade from plastic,
about. They were very helpful in getting into the part. I
allowing for lightweight wear during
the film’s multiple battle sequences.
This protected the actors from heat
exhaustion. A single prototype was
constructed in leather—the traditional
material used when creating the
real armor—and a revolutionary
replication process ensured that the
plastic versions were impossible
to distinguish from the prototype.
Enthuses Rose: “The replication
finish is the best I’ve ever seen.”
Rose intentionally explored
contrast in the dress choices of Kai
and Oishi. Of her design inspiration, Director CARL RINSCH, HIROYUKI SANADA as Oishi and KEANU REEVES as Kai on the set of 47 Ronin.
– 41 –
could even say that the role only came to life when I put
on the costume. Penny helped me hugely.”
The look for her Witch is completed with a set
of different-colored contact lenses. “The lenses make
me look crazy and creepy,” Kikuchi laughs. “Just
wearing them makes the character look mysterious
enough to have magical powers.” Rose had to take into
consideration the work of the visual effects team when
she designed the Witch’s clothes. Adds Kikuchi: “The
Witch can change her shape and morph into anything
from a fox to fabric.”
Abdy was thrilled with the fruits of Rose’s team’s
labor. She enthuses: “I’m obsessed with what they’ve
done with the women’s costumes. Penny took the
assignment to another level; their costumes are like
couture. You could see these women walking down
a runway during Paris Fashion Week! She’s taken the
authenticity of the world and put her own flair on it, so
it has a very modern vibe. She’s a force.”
Manz says the Witch’s costume is almost another
creature in the film. “Her dress can change shape and she
can shape shift as well,” he reveals. “We’ve done that
in an interesting way, instead of doing old-fashioned
morphs and things that we’ve seen since the ’80s. Her
dress is something that you won’t have seen before.”
Universal Pictures presents—in association with
Relativity Media—Keanu Reeves in 47 Ronin, starring
Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi,
Ko Shibasaki. The music is by Ilan Eshkeri, and the
costume design is by Penny Rose. 47 Ronin is edited by
Stuart Baird, ACE, and its production designer is Jan
Roelfs. The director of photography is John Mathieson,
BSC, and the executive producers are Scott Stuber,
Chris Fenton, Walter Hamada. 47 Ronin is produced
by Pamela Abdy, p.g.a., and Eric McLeod. The film’s
screenplay is by Chris Morgan and Hossein Amini, and
the screen story is by Chris Morgan & Walter Hamada.
47 Ronin is directed by Carl Rinsch. © 2013 Universal
KEANU REEVES (Kai) is one of Hollywood’s
most sought after leading
men. Reeves recently made
his directorial debut with
Man of Tai Chi, which was
shot entirely in China. Reeves
not only directed the film,
but also starred in it. Man of
Tai Chi premiered in China
in June and will be released
worldwide this fall.
In 2012, the Reeves-produced documentary Side
by Side made its theatrical and VOD debut to critical
acclaim. The documentary, which explores the
history of filmmaking and the impact of new digital
technology, premiered at the Berlin International Film
Festival. In the film, directed by Chris Kenneally,
Reeves interviewed some of Hollywood’s key players,
including James Cameron, David Fincher, David
Lynch, George Lucas, Danny Boyle, Martin Scorsese,
Christopher Nolan, Steven Soderbergh, Lars von Trier
and the Wachowskis.
Recent film credits for Reeves include Mark Mann’s
Generation Um…; Henry’s Crime, which he both starred
in and produced; Rebecca Miller’s The Private Lives of
Pippa Lee, opposite Robin Wright; 20th Century Fox’s
epic The Day the Earth Stood Still, alongside Jennifer
Connelly; the cop thriller Street Kings, opposite Forest
Whitaker; the romantic drama The Lake House, opposite
Sandra Bullock; and A Scanner Darkly, a highly
stylized blend of live-action and animation. Reeves also
starred in the comic adaptation Constantine, opposite
Rachel Weisz; the independent film Thumbsucker; the
romantic comedy Something’s Gotta Give, opposite
Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton; and the incredibly
popular The Matrix series.
– 42 –
Reeves’ long list of credits includes Hardball; The
Gift, opposite Cate Blanchett; Sweet November; The
Replacements; A Walk in the Clouds; the hit thriller
Devil’s Advocate, opposite Al Pacino and Charlize
Theron; Little Buddha; and Much Ado About Nothing,
opposite Denzel Washington, Emma Thompson and
Michael Keaton. Reeves was also seen in Bram Stoker’s
Dracula, My Own Private Idaho, Point Break, the very
popular Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its sequel,
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.
Raised in Toronto, Reeves performed in various
local theater productions and on television before
relocating to Los Angeles. His first widely acclaimed
role was in Tim Hunter’s River’s Edge. He then starred
in Marisa Silver’s Permanent Record, and alongside
Amy Madigan and Fred Ward in The Prince of
Pennsylvania. Yet another turn came when Reeves was
cast as the innocent Danceny in Stephen Frears’ highly
praised Dangerous Liaisons, alongside Glenn Close,
John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer. He joined other
outstanding casts that year in Ron Howard’s comedy
Parenthood and Lawrence Kasdan’s I Love You to
Death. Audiences saw Reeves for the first time as the
romantic lead opposite Barbara Hershey in Jon Amiel’s
Tune in Tomorrow, which co-starred Peter Falk. His
additional credits include TriStar’s sci-fi thriller Johnny
Mnemonic, Andrew Davis’ action film Chain Reaction
and Steve Baigelman’s dark comedy Feeling Minnesota.
As one of Japan’s most talented and highest regarded actors of his generation, HIROYUKI SANADA
(Oishi) has gar nered the
attention of American and
foreign audiences with more
than 50 films and a Japanese
Oscar to his name.
Sanada will be seen in
The Railway Man, alongside
Colin Firth and Nicole
Kidman. The epic true story based on Eric Lomax’s
autobiography centers around two men haunted by
their experiences on the notorious Death Railway in
WWII who are brought together for a devastating final
confrontation. Sanada plays Nagase, the interpreter at
the Japanese prison camp during WWII where Eric
Lomax (Firth), is held prisoner. The film premiered at
this year’s Toronto Film Festival. The film was picked up
for domestic distribution by The Weinstein Company,
and will be released in the U.S. in 2014. Lionsgate
International has set up deals for international release
starting in December 2013, including Australia, Japan,
Spain and the U.K.
Sanada is currently in production on SyFy Channel’s
original series Helix, in which he is a part of an elite
team of CDC researchers investigating a mysterious
viral outbreak in the Arctic Circle—an outbreak which
has implications for all of mankind. The show premieres
in January 2014.
Sanada was last seen in James Mangold’s action
feature The Wolverine, opposite Hugh Jackman, for 20th
Century Fox. In the film, Sanada starred as Shingen,
a crime boss and major enemy of Wolverine. The film
was released on July 26, 2013.
Sanada started his career in film when he was five
years old, and later won the Japanese Academy Award
for his role in The Twilight Samurai, where he played
a mid-19th century low-ranking samurai employed
as a bureaucrat. The film was also nominated for an
Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film. On
the heels of this success, Sanada made his mark with
American audiences when he starred alongside Tom
Cruise in Ed Zwick’s The Last Samurai.
Since then, Sanada has been seen in a number of
notable features including James Ivory’s The City of
Your Final Destination, alongside Anthony Hopkins;
The White Countess, opposite Ralph Fiennes; Danny
Boyle’s sci-fi thriller Sunshine, with Chris Evans and
Rose Byrne; the action-thriller Speed Racer, alongside
Susan Sarandon and Emile Hirsch; Brett Ratner’s Rush
– 43 –
Hour 3; Chen Kaige’s The Promise, a Chinese epic
fantasy romance; and the terrifying Ringu series.
On television, Sanada had a guest-starring arc on
the first season of ABC’s Revenge, where he played
Kiyoshi Takeda, Emily’s (Emily Van Camp) mentor
and spiritual advisor who offers her the manual to life
and the cautions that come with it. He also starred in
multiple episodes of the Primetime Emmy Awardwinning series Lost, in which he played the role of
Dogen in the final season. Beyond television, Sanada
became one of the few foreign actors to tour with the
Royal Shakespeare Company in a production of King
Lear, with Nigel Hawthorne.
Sanada has a black belt in karate, and is trained in
Japanese traditional dance and Japanese Swordplay
Tate. He currently resides in Los Angeles.
TADANOBU ASANO (Lord Kira) was born in
Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa,
Japan on November 27, 1973.
Asano’s feature f ilm
credits include Takashi
Miike’s Ichi the Killer (2001),
Takeshi Kitano’s The Blind
Swordsman: Zatochi (2003),
Pen-Ek Ratanaruanng’s Last
Life in the Universe (2004)
and Sergei Bodrov’s Mongol:
The Rise of Genghis Khan (2007), which was nominated
for Best Foreign Language Film at the 80th Annual
Academy Awards®. Asano made his Hollywood debut
in Kenneth Branagh’s Thor (2011), followed shortly by
Peter Berg’s Battleship (2012) and Alan Taylor’s Thor:
The Dark World (2013).
Asano won the Upstream Prize for Best Actor at the
60th Venice Film Festival in 2003 for his role in Last
Life in the Universe.
Having a distinctive presence, Asano is one of
the leading Japanese actors on the big screen and is
acclaimed for his performances worldwide.
Japanese-born RINKO KIKUCHI (Witch) has
shown range and depth with
every role she plays. Kikuchi
was most recently seen in the
sci-fi thriller Pacific Rim.
Kikuchi landed her
first professional role in
the Japanese film Ikitai in
1999. Since then, she has
displayed her talent as an
actress, starring in critically
acclaimed Japanese films such as Hole in the Sky
(2001) and The Taste of Tea (2004), and continues to
gain popularity within Japan’s film industry.
Kikuchi was catapulted onto the international
feature film scene with her Academy Award ®nominated role for Best Performance by an Actress
in a Supporting Role in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s
Babel (2006). Playing the role of young deaf highschooler Chieko with fervent energy and commitment,
Kikuchi achieved an outstanding reputation around
the world for her dramatic performance. The film
garnered seven Academy Award ® nominations,
securing Kikuchi’s status as one of Hollywood’s
leading young actresses.
Kikuchi followed up her success with a number
of highly acclaimed international films such as Rian
Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom (2008), with Adrien
Brody and Rachel Weisz; Isabel Coixet’s Map of the
Sounds of Tokyo (2009), with Serge Lopez; Mikael
Håfström’s Shanghai (2010), with John Cusack and
Ken Watanabe; and Anh Hung Tran’s Norwegian
Wood (2010), a highly anticipated adaptation of
Haruki Murakami’s international bestselling novel of
the same name.
Kikuchi hails from Hadano, Japan, and is a skilled
sword fighter as well as an accomplished motorcyclist
and horseback rider. In 2007, she was named one of
Variety’s 10 Actors to Watch.
– 44 –
KO SHIBASAKI (Mika) was born in 1981 in
Tokyo. Shibasaki’s acting
career took off with Battle
Royale in 2000 and Go in
2001. She won acclaim for
her fine performance in
Go, earning several awards,
including Best Supporting
Actress at the Japanese
Academy Awards. She soon
became one of the most
bankable leading actresses with many box-office hits
such as Yomigaeri, Crying Out Love in the Center of
the World, Japan Sinks, Shaolin Girl, Suspect X, Rinco’s
Restaurant and The Lady Shogun and Her Man. 47
Ronin is Shibasaki’s Hollywood debut.
She has been a star in the Japanese music scene
for many years. Her singing career began with her first
single in 2002, “Trust My Feelings,” but her singing
skills received significant recognition upon release of
her second single, “Tsuki no shizuku,” a song used in
Yomigaeri, which was also one of the best J-Pop hits
of 2003. Shibasaki’s first Christmas Song, “Actuality,”
was released in December 2006, with “At Home”
released on February 21, 2007. Both did not reach the
top 10 on the Oricon charts. Her next single, “Hito Koi
Meguri,” released on March 28, 2007, reached No. 8 on
the charts. It became her first single to reach the top 10
since “Invitation.” On April 25, 2007, Shibasaki’s third
album, “KiKi,” was released and went straight to No.
1. On August 3 and 5, Shibasaki held her first concerts,
Ko Shibasaki Premium Live, in Osaka and Tokyo. The
2,400 members of the audience were selected from
more than 30,000 applicants for the tickets (which
accompanied the album).
In April 2008, Shibasaki released two greatest hits
albums, “The Single Best” and “The Back Best.” The
former album topped the Oricon charts (the first time
Shibasaki reached first place in the weekly chart), while
“The Back Best” remained in third place.
Shibasaki writes the lyrics for most of her songs.
Many of her singles have become theme songs for
various films and commercials.
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Known for his innovative, cinematic solutions
to creative and production
puzzles, CARL RINSCH
(Directed by) has earned a
reputation as an idea man
and master storyteller. Over
the last decade, Rinsch has
defined his own esthetic and
crafted award-winning work
on a number of projects.
Rinsch started directing
at a young age. At just 14 years old, he had his first
film shown at both the New York and Telluride Film
Festivals. While still an undergraduate at Brown
University, where he double-majored in English
and art, he worked as a photojournalist for Rolling
Stone magazine, shooting editorial print work with
musicians like Chrissie Hynde, Sheryl Crow, Devo,
Sarah McLachlan and the Violent Femmes.
Since earning the D&AD/Campaign Screen Award
for Best New Director, and being featured in Saatchi
and Saatchi’s New Director’s Showcase at Cannes Lions
International Festival of Creativity in 2001, Rinsch has
continued to be recognized for his work. In 2009, he
won a Silver Clio for Audi “Intelligently Combined,”
which dramatizes the creation of an A4 through a ballet
of cogs and parts falling into place within a transparent
Rubik’s-like cube.
The next year, Rinsch’s European espionage
robot epic The Gift, shot for Philips Parallel Lines,
won the Grand Prix for Direction at Cannes Lions
International Festival of Creativity and the Grand Prix
at the Ciclope Advertising Craft Festival. In 2012,
he directed a conspiracy theorist’s nightmare-cometrue with Mercedes’ “Escape the Map,” in which an
alluring woman and her mystery driver break free
from a world-gone Google Maps. The Kinsale Shark
Advertising Awards noted Rinsch’s balance of sharp
storytelling and stunning visual effects, awarding him
gold for Animation.
In addition to directing commercials and his
work on 47 Ronin, Rinsch is currently working on an
interactive virtual mobile platform.
47 Ronin marks the seventh consecutive feature
film collaboration for CHRIS MORGAN (Screenplay/
Screen Story by) and Universal Pictures. The
collaboration began with Justin Lin’s The Fast and the
Furious: Tokyo Drift, then Morgan went on to adapt
Wanted, which starred Angelina Jolie. Following that,
Morgan wrote the back-to-back-to-back reteaming of
Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in Fast & Furious, Fast
Five and Fast & Furious 6.
Morgan is currently busy producing Universal
Pictures’ upcoming The Legend of Conan, starring
Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as writing the seventh
installment in the Fast & Furious series.
Iranian-born screenwriter HOSSEIN AMINI
(Screenplay by) was nominated for a BAFTA and an
Oscar® in 1998 for his adaptation of Henry James’
classic novel Wings of a Dove, which starred Helena
Bonham Carter, Linus Roach and Alison Elliott.
Amini wrote the screenplay for the 1996 release
Jude, which starred Kate Winslet and Christopher
Ecclestone, which won the Edinburgh Film Festival
prize for Best British Film. Other credits include the
2002 release The Four Feathers, with Heath Ledger,
and Killshot (2008).
In 2011, Amini wrote the screenplay for Drive,
which starred Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan.
Drive was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the
Cannes Film Festival and for Best Film at the 2012
BAFTA Awards.
Most recently, Amini co-wrote Universal Pictures’
Snow White and the Huntsman and will make his
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directorial debut with the thriller The Two Faces of
January, starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and
Oscar Isaac, based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel of the
same name.
WALTER HAMADA (Screen Story by/Executive
Producer) is New Line Cinema’s senior vice president
of production. Among the feature films Hamada has
produced are Final Destination 5, A Nightmare on
Elm Street and Friday the 13th. His latest release was
the box-office success The Conjuring, which starred
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, based on the true
case files of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine
Warren. Up next is the tornado thriller Into the Storm,
slated for summer 2014.
Hamada spent four years as a partner at H2F
Entertainment, a management and production company
he co-founded, prior to joining New Line in 2007.
While there, he helped build the careers of such writers
as Chris Morgan (Wanted, Fast & Furious 6), Brad
Gann (Invincible), and Matt Allen and Caleb Wilson
(Four Christmases). He also produced the indie horror
film Whisper.
A graduate of UCLA, Hamada began his career
as an assistant at TriStar Pictures, where he quickly
rose through the ranks and ultimately served as vice
president of production for Columbia Pictures. While
at Columbia Pictures, he oversaw the development
and production of several films, including The Big Hit,
Vertical Limit, Godzilla and S.W.A.T.
As president of Bluegrass Films, PAMELA ABDY,
p.g.a. (Produced by) is a producer who also oversees
daily development and procurement of properties
for feature film production. Among the diverse slate
at Bluegrass Films, Abdy produced the hit comedy
Identity Thief, recently wrapped production on the
remake of Endless Love, directed by Shana Feste, and
executive produced Kill the Messenger, directed by
Michael Cuesta.
Prior to joining Bluegrass Films, Abdy was executive
vice president of Paramount Pictures, where she
oversaw the development and production of a number
of films, including Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island;
The Love Guru, which starred Mike Myers; Stop-Loss,
which was directed by Kimberly Peirce and starred
Ryan Phillippe; Drillbit Taylor, which was produced
by Judd Apatow and starred Owen Wilson; World Trade
Center, which was directed by Oliver Stone and starred
Nicolas Cage; Aeon Flux, which was directed by Karyn
Kusama and starred Charlize Theron; Freedom Writers,
which was directed by Richard LaGravenese and
starred Hilary Swank; and the Golden Globe-winning
film Babel, which starred Brad Pitt and was directed
by Alejandro González Iñárritu. In addition, Abdy
oversaw production on the Mark Waters-directed Mean
Girls, which starred Lindsay Lohan.
Abdy joined Paramount Pictures in January 2003.
She was previously president of Jersey Films, where
she produced the film Garden State, which won an
Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and a
Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album
for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.
ERIC MCLEOD (Produced by/Unit Production
Manager) is a seasoned producer, with more than 30
films under his belt. McLeod’s wide range of production
experience provides him the unique ability to handle
the massive logistics required for mounting any film.
McLeod got his start in 1988 as a production
coordinator on A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The
Dream Master and never looked back. He’s worked
with some of the industry’s top filmmakers, including
Michael Mann, Gore Verbinski, Tony Scott and Doug
McLeod’s feature film credits include Mann’s
Untitled Michael Mann Film, Verbinski’s The Lone
Ranger, Scott’s Unstoppable, Mike Newell’s Prince of
Persia: The Sands of Time, Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder,
Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
– 47 –
and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Jay
Chandrasekhar’s The Dukes of Hazzard, Doug Liman’s
Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Bo Welch’s Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in
the Hat, Jay Roach’s Austin Powers series, Tom Dey’s
Showtime, Tarsem Singh’s The Cell, Scott’s Enemy of
the State, Richard LaGravenese’s Living Out Loud,
Barry Levinson’s Wag the Dog, Lesli Linka Glatter’s
Now and Then, Jessie Nelson’s Corrina Corrina and
John G. Avildsen’s 8 Seconds.
SCOTT STUBER (Executive Producer) is the
founder and CEO of Bluegrass Films, which has been
based at Universal Pictures since 2006.
Recent Bluegrass Films releases include Identity
Thief, which starred Melissa McCarthy and Jason
Bateman, was directed by Seth Gordon and grossed
more than $100 million domestically; Ted, the highest
grossing original “R”-rated comedy of all time, which
was written and directed by Seth MacFarlane and
starred Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and MacFarlane;
and Safe House, which starred Denzel Washington and
Ryan Reynolds and was directed by Daniel Espinosa.
Stuber recently wrapped production on Michael
Cuesta’s true-life dramatic thriller Kill the Messenger,
starring Jeremy Renner, from a screenplay by Peter
Landesman. He is in postproduction on the romantic
drama Endless Love, directed by Shana Feste and
starring Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde, which is set
for a February 14, 2014, release; and Seth MacFarlane’s
Western comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West,
starring Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda
Seyfried and MacFarlane, which will be released on
May 30, 2014.
Stuber, under his Bluegrass Television label, has
also ventured onto the small screen with the NBC
comedy Whitney, which was created by and starred
comedian Whitney Cummings.
Stuber’s first production was summer 2006’s
romantic comedy The Break-Up, which starred Vince
Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. That summer also saw
the release of the hit You, Me and Dupree, which
starred Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson. These were
followed by Peter Berg’s critically acclaimed film The
Kingdom; the Martin Lawrence comedy Welcome
Home, Roscoe Jenkins; the David Wain hit Role
Models, which starred Paul Rudd and Seann William
Scott; and Couples Retreat, which starred Vaughn
and Jon Favreau.
During Stuber’s eight years at Universal—five
of which he spent running worldwide production
with Mary Parent—he was responsible for many of
the studio’s critically acclaimed and commercially
successful films, including King Kong, Jarhead, A
Beautiful Mind, Seabiscuit, Cinderella Man, Munich,
Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, The Bourne
Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, About a Boy, The
40-Year-Old Virgin, 8 Mile, Spy Game, The Family
Man, The Nutty Professor, Nutty Professor II: The
Klumps, The Mummy franchise, the American Pie
franchise, Fast & Furious franchise, Friday Night
Lights, Bring It On and many others. More than 20
of the films Stuber supervised have grossed more than
$100 million domestically.
CHRIS FENTON (Executive Producer) is
president of DMG Entertainment Motion Picture Group
and general manager of DMG North America. Fenton
worked as a motion picture agent at the William Morris
Agency from 1994 to 2002. Since then, he has been the
chief architect in creating new business opportunities
for DMG with North American-based partners,
concentrating his efforts in forming partnerships
with various Hollywood studios for the development,
financing, production, marketing and distribution of
various forms of international content in China.
Fenton has worked as the general manager of
DMG’s North American operations since 2002, and
was named president of DMG Entertainment’s Motion
Picture Group in 2011. Fenton’s relationship with DMG
and DMG CEO Dan Mintz dates back to Fenton’s
– 48 –
eight-year tenure as an agent at the William Morris
Agency. Early on as general manager, he focused on
creating new business for DMG’s advertising and
marketing operations, signing U.S.-based companies
such as Fruit of the Loom, Behr Paint, Spalding, Under
Armour and King 888 energy drink. However, Fenton’s
responsibilities have grown over the years to include
procuring and creating television and film content and
I.P.; forging alliances with key North American-based
marketing partners; negotiating music publishing
contracts; pursuing endorsement and sponsorship
opportunities; consulting on physical production, coproduction, creative distribution and co-financing issues
in China; producing film and television; representing
content creators and artists; forming media distribution
strategies and alliances; hiring executives and other
personnel for DMG’s various divisions; cultivating key
business, educational and government relationships; and
educating North American press, media, universities
and government entities on various DMG and Chinaoriented issues.
Fenton executive produced the action-thriller
Numbers Station, which hit theaters earlier this year.
Additionally, Fenton was a lead production executive
and chief negotiator on the DMG/Endgame financed
co-production Looper, which starred Bruce Willis
and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Sony released Looper on
September 28, 2012.
Throughout much of 2012 and 2013, Fenton
orchestrated the co-production/financing deal between
DMG, Marvel and Disney for Iron Man 3, which
grossed $1.2 billion worldwide and $125 million
in China alone. He has produced eight other films,
along with a television series, and has several other
projects in the pipeline, including Lionsgate’s The
Vatican Tapes.
Fenton’s specific achievements under his tenure
at DMG include closing the largest U.S. celebrity
endorsement deal ever for China—a seven-figure, oneyear deal for Olympian Michael Phelps with DMG’s
client Mazda; partnering Summit Entertainment with
DMG to distribute several films theatrically in China,
the first being Knowing, which starred Nicolas Cage,
whose success led to DMG’s distribution of the Twilight
series and Red in China; and providing DMG access
to valuable intellectual property to mine for Chinese
exploitation. DMG’s first foray into the cross-Pacific
content pipeline was in 2005, a partnership between
IMG/TWI and DMG, bringing The World’s Strongest
Man competition to Chengdu.
(Director of Photography) is one of a group of
filmmakers who emerged out of the music video
industry of the late ’80s and ’90s. He came up
through the traditional camera ranks and worked as a
camera assistant to Gabriel Beristáin for several years.
Mathieson was first recognized in 1998 for his work
on the music video “Peek-A-Boo” by Siouxsie and the
Banshees. His peers include cinematographers Tim
Maurice Jones (Kick-Ass 2) and Seamus McGarvey,
BSC (Atonement), and directors Michel Gondry
(Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and David
Fincher (The Social Network). Mathieson honed his
craft through the 1990s shooting numerous television
commercials and music videos for artists including
Madonna, Prince and Massive Attack.
Mathieson collaborated with John Maybury, director
of Sinead O’Connor’s music video “Nothing Compares
2 U,” going on to photograph Maybury’s award-winning
film Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis
Bacon in 1998.
In the mid ’90s Mathieson photographed two
feature films for director Karim Dridi, for which he was
later bestowed the honor of Chevalier by the French
government. He came to the attention of Tony Scott
while shooting television commercials for the Londonbased company RSA Films. After working as visual
effects cinematographer on Enemy of the State for
Tony Scott in 1998, Mathieson photographed the film
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Plunkett & Macleane (1999) for Jake Scott. Having
seen Mathieson’s work on Plunkett, Ridley Scott invited
him to work on his next project, beginning a regular
collaboration between the two.
Mathieson has photographed four films for Ridley
Scott: Gladiator, Hannibal, Kingdom of Heaven
and Robin Hood. In 2001, he was nominated for an
Academy Award® for Gladiator and won the BAFTA
Award for Best Cinematography in the same year.
His second Oscar® nomination came in 2004 for The
Phantom of the Opera, directed by Joel Schumacher.
Mathieson’s other feature film credits include Marc
Evans’ Trauma, Stephen Woolley’s Stoned, K-Pax,
Brighton Rock, Bourke and Hare, X-Men: First Class
and Mike Newell’s Great Expectations.
Mathieson lives in the United Kingdom.
JAN ROELFS (Production Designer) is a twotime Academy Award® nominee recognized for his
sumptuous work on Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca and
Sally Potter’s Orlando. Roelfs most recently designed
Universal Pictures’ mega-hit Fast & Furious 6.
Born and raised in the Netherlands, Roelfs
commanded Hollywood’s attention early on in his career
with his richly conceived and meticulously detailed
sets for filmmaker Peter Greenaway. The duo teamed
up on five films, including Prospero’s Books and The
Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, for which
Roelfs garnered a nomination for Best Production
Designer at the 1990 European Film Awards. He has
also collaborated with director Oliver Stone on the
period epic Alexander and on World Trade Center, for
which Roelfs received critical acclaim for re-creating
ground zero in Los Angeles.
Other notable credits include S1m0ne, his second
film with Niccol; the Judd Apatow-produced comedy
Get Him to the Greek; Joel Schumacher’s Bad Company;
My Own Love Song, which starred Renée Zellweger and
Forest Whitaker; Little Women; and Lions For Lambs,
directed by Robert Redford. In between feature films,
Roelfs lends his creative expertise to the commercial
world, nabbing a 2009 Art Directors Guild Award
nomination for Excellence in Production Design for his
work on a Capital One spot.
STUART BAIRD, ACE (Edited by) has twice
been nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Film
Editing for his work on Richard Donner’s Superman
and Michael Apted’s Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of
Dian Fossey.
Baird previously served as editor on the James Bond
action-adventure features Skyfall and Casino Royale,
for which he earned BAFTA Award nominations and
American Cinema Editor Award Nominations on both
films. His other credits include The Omen, Lethal
Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2, Altered States, Outland,
Die Hard II, Demolition Man, Maverick, Legends of
Zorro and Salt.
Baird is also known for his work as a director. He
directed Executive Decision, U.S. Marshals and Star
Trek: Nemesis.
PENNY ROSE (Costume Designer) has worked
in the film industry since the 1970s. Rose has been
nominated for the BAFTA three times: Evita, Pirates
of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. In 2010,
Rose received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination
for her work on the HBO television miniseries The
Pacific. Rose and her team faced great hurdles in their
quest for original World War II military uniforms. To
create 3,000 manufactured uniforms, the designers
used the equivalent of 100 tennis courts of herringbone
twill, specially woven in India on old-fashioned looms,
to replicate the 1940s weave.
Rose’s other feature credits include Gore Verbinski’s
The Lone Ranger, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger
Tides, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and The
Weatherman, Mike Newell’s Prince of Persia: The Sands
of Time, Richard Attenborough’s Shadowlands, Tony
– 50 –
Scott’s Unstoppable, Paul Weiland’s Made of Honor,
Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson’s St. Trinian’s,
Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur, Brian de Palma’s Mission:
Impossible, Jon Amiel’s Entrapment, Alan Parker’s The
Commitments and Bill Borsyth’s Local Hero.
has a passion for performed music, and enjoys living
and working in London, where his compositions are
played by some of the world’s best musicians.
British composer ILAN ESHKERI (Music by) is
best known for his film scores to Stardust, The Young
Victoria and Kick-Ass, as well as his collaborations
with Coldplay, Annie Lennox and Take That.
Eskheri’s career is notable for its diversity; recently
he scored Ralph Fiennes’ Shakespearean directorial
debut Coriolanus, Rowan Atkinson’s comedy caper
Johnny English Reborn, collaborated with electronic
music legend Amon Tobin on a live performance of
his work and was commissioned to write for world
renowned pianist Lang Lang.
Early in his career, Eshkeri composed the score
to the cult British gangster film Layer Cake, which
earned him a nomination for Discovery of the Year at
the World Soundtrack Awards. His score to Stardust
won the International Film Music Critics Association
award for Best Original Score for a Comedy Film.
Eshkeri’s soundtrack to The Young Victoria topped the
classical music charts for several weeks and received
a nomination at the Ivor Novello Awards. Eshkeri
has also been nominated for three world soundtrack
awards. His collaborations with bands and solo artists
include arrangements of Lennox’s best known songs
for her concert with the BBC Symphony Orchestra,
arranging for David Gilmour on his latest album,
On An Island, and co-writing with The Cinematic
Orchestra and Tim Wheeler from Ash. He also wrote
the song “Only You” for Sinead O’Connor and worked
with Take That on Stardust.
Born in London into a musical family, Eshkeri grew
up playing the violin and guitar. He studied music and
English literature at Leeds University, later learning the
art of film composition by working closely with Michael
Kamen, Edward Shearmur and Steve McLaughlin. He
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