EXCLUSIVE: The Bird, the nickname of the Japanese officer who psychologically and physically tortured WWII officer Louis Zamperini, changed the American war hero’s life. Now David Sakurai has just been cast as Mutsuhiro ‘The Bird’ Wantabe in the Harold Cronk-directed Unbroken: Path to Redemption, the sequel to the three-time Academy Award nominated 2014 film.
The Danish-Japanese actor is the main nemesis of Zamperini played in the sequel by Samuel Hunt. The faith-based film — to be distributed by Pure Flix — is based on the second half of the book Unbroken from author Laura Hillenbrand. Written by Richard Friedenberg (A River Runs Through It) and Ken Hixon (City by the Sea), the film, which is already in production, picks up where the last film left off and follows the love story between Louis and Cynthia and how his PTSD (he would have nightmares about The Bird) crippled him before he found God.
Talk about great casting. Sakurai has a very similar steely stare and widow’s peak as the actor Miyavi who portrayed The Bird in the first film.
Sakurai first became known to international audiences for his performance in Károly Ujj Mészáros’ fantasy noir Liza, The Fox-Fairy. In the U.S. market, he had a flashy role in Scott Buck’s martial arts series Iron Fist from Marvel Studios and Netflix.
He next stars as the lead in the controversial drama Housewife from Turkish filmmaker Can Evrenol and also in Isaac Florentine’s Stoic where he plays opposite Antonio Banderas, Karl Urban and Paz Vega.
Sakurai is repped in the U.S. by Don Buchwald & Associates and Teamplayers in Denmark.