Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, who starred in Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, will get a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame on November 14. The honour was announced late last year, and comes 19 years after his death.
The actor is best known for his collaboration with Kurosawa, which brought him international fame. Mifune was selected at an audition at the Japanese production company Toho, after judges had originally rejected him. He went on to star in 16 films directed by Kurosawa, including Drunken Angel, Rashomon, and Yojimbo.
In his memoir Something Like An Autobiography, Kurosawa had memorably written, “The ordinary Japanese actor might need 10 feet of film to get across an impression. Toshiro Mifune needed only three feet.”
Mifune, who worked in 170 films in all, also worked outside of Japan, in Mexico and the US. In America, he gained recognition for his role as Toranaga in a TV adaptation of Shogun, alongside Richard Chamberlain. He made his last film with Kurosawa in 1965, and continued acting until 1995. He passed away in 1997 in Mitaka, near Tokyo.
Mifune was popular with audiences around the world. Star Wars creator George Lucas repeatedly tried to cast Mifune in his films. Mifune was reportedly offered the roles of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader. Lucas, heavily influenced by Japanese cinema and Kurosawa’s films in particular, had based many of the characters and fighting styles on the figure of the samurai. According to his daughter Mika, Mifune rejected the offer because he felt the film’s effects would be rudimentary and would cheapen the image of the samurai.
“At the time, sci-fi movies still looked quite cheap as the effects were not advanced and he had a lot of samurai pride. So then, there was talk about him taking the Darth Vader role as his face would be covered, but in the end he turned that down too,” recalled Mika Mifune.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame includes more than 2,500 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars installed along the sidewalks of 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California.