The 1 ‘John Wick’ Role That Got Away From Legendary Actor Hiroyuki Sanada Despite Later Getting Cast in Fourth Film

John Wick director Chad Stahelski reveals the original role meant for Hiroyuki Sanada in the hit action franchise

The 1 ‘John Wick’ Role That Got Away From Legendary Actor Hiroyuki Sanada Despite Later Getting Cast in Fourth Film

SUMMARY

  • Chad Stahelski spoke about the casting process for John Wick: Chapter 4 in a new podcast.
  • Stahelski revealed he originally wanted Hiroyuki Sanada to play the villain in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.
  • Stahelski also shared the ardent process to find the actress to play Sanada's daughter in the fourth installment.
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Hiroyuki Sanada is a legendary actor renowned for his marital arts skills in his native Japan and internationally. Sanada gained recognition in the West for roles in films such as Rush Hour 3 and The Last Samurai. However, his popularity has soared thanks to his performance in the 2023 blockbuster John Wick: Chapter 4.

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Hiroyuki Sanada
Hiroyuki Sanada

In the fourth installment of the hit franchise, Sanada essays the role of Shimazu Koji. However, director Chad Stahelski recently revealed that the legendary martial artist was in line to portray an entirely different character in the world of John Wick. Here is what Stahelski said about the role he originally wanted to cast Hiroyuki Sanada for in the franchise.

Also Read: John Wick Director Chad Stahelski Wants to Enter MCU With Mahershala Ali’s Blade

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Chad Stahelski Reveals John Wick Role Originally Meant For Hiroyuki Sanada

Chad Stahelski‘s work on the John Wick franchise has made the director a bankable name in Hollywood. The franchise’s most recent outing, John Wick: Chapter 4 became a mega success grossing $440.1 million worldwide. In the film, Stahelski cast Hiroyuki Sanada as Shimazu Koji, an Osaka-based ally of the titular character played by Keanu Reeves.

Hiroyuki Sanada in John Wick Chapter 4
Hiroyuki Sanada in John Wick Chapter 4

Stahelski recently appeared on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, where he did a deep dive into the fourth installment with host Josh Horowitz. During the conversation, Stahelski revealed that he originally intended for Sanada to play an entirely different character in the franchise.

Initially, Stahelski wanted to cast Sanada in the third installment, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. The director had intended for Sanada to play the role of Zero, a Japanese assassin who goes after John Wick’s allies. While Sanada was rumored to be up for the part in 2018, things did not pan out because the actor suffered an Achilles injury. Instead, actor and martial artist Mark Dacascos ended up playing Zero.

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Also read: “See If Disney could survive me”: John Wick Director Chad Stahelski Doesn’t Expect His Potential Star Wars Journey to Be Easy

Chad Stahelski Talks Casting Father-Daughter Duo For John Wick: Chapter 4

Rina Sawayama in John Wick: Chapter 4
Rina Sawayama in John Wick: Chapter 4

During the podcast, Stahelski also discussed casting for the roles of Shimazu Koji and Shimazu Akira, the father-daughter duo who run the Osaka Continental Hotel in the fourth film. Stahelski stated he had the characters in mind for many years and felt Sanada would be ideal for the part of the father. However, he had a hard time finding an actress to play the role of Akira.

“I was looking for the part of Akira. I couldn’t quite find somebody that fit what I was thinking in my mind through casting. So one night (I) was in Berlin I looked at some random music videos looking for dancers or something like that and I saw a bunch of Rina (Sawayama)’s videos.”

Also read: “I’m very proud of that”: John Wick 4 Relied on a Real King to Nail Keanu Reeves’ Epic Sequence

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Stahelski added that the videos convinced him Sawayama was ideal for the role of the Japanese anime-inspired daughter character he had in his head. Stahelski also stated that Sanada and Sawayama bonded over performing an authentic Osaka accent while filming the movie.

John Wick: Chapter 4 is now streaming on Starz and available to rent on VOD platforms.

Pratik Handore

Written by Pratik Handore

Articles Published: 535

Pratik is a writer at FandomWire, with a content writing experience of five years. Although he has a Bachelors in Hospitality, his fascination with all things pop culture led him to writing articles on a variety of topics ranging from latest streaming releases to unheard movie trivia. When not writing, you can find him reading manga, or watching classic TV shows.