Chadwick Boseman is set to play Yasuke, the first African samurai to swing a sword in Japan

I know some of you only got to know about Chadwick Boseman in Marvel’s Black Panther, where he played an African king. The movie is significant for centering a black superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe alongside an overwhelmingly black cast. Now, Boseman is about to step into another role of significance: the first African samurai to swing a sword in Japan in a movie titled Yasuke.

Yasuke isn’t all fiction. Historically, he was a native of Portuguese Mozambique who was brought to Japan as a slave to Jesuit missionaries. The first black man to set foot on Japanese soil, Yasuke’s arrival aroused the interest of Nobunaga, a ruthless warlord seeking to unite the fractured country under his banner. A complex relationship developed between the two men as Yasuke earned Nobunaga’s friendship, respect — and ultimately, the honor, swords and title of samurai.

“The legend of Yasuke is one of history’s best kept secrets, the only person of non-Asian origin to become a Samurai,” Boseman said. “That’s not just an action movie, that’s a cultural event, an exchange, and I am excited to be part of it.”

The project has been in works for the past few years, originally being set up at Lionsgate with producer Erik Feig. Now, it’s with Feig’s Picturestart, where it will be produced with Mike De Luca’s De Luca Productions, Stephen L’Heureux’s Solipsist, Logan Coles’ X●ception Content and Boseman.

Beyond Black Panther, Boseman has most recently starred as Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get On Up, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. He will next star in STX’s 21 Bridges, which he and Coles also produced along The Russo Brothers and Madison Wells Media.

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