EXCLUSIVE: Fresh from playing the African warrior king Black Panther in Avengers: Endgame, Chadwick Boseman has officially aligned himself to play Yasuke, the first African samurai to swing a sword in Japan.
Erik Feig’s Picturestart has teamed with Mike De Luca and his De Luca Productions banner, Stephen L’Heureux and his Solipsist banner, and Boseman and Logan Coles’ X●ception Content to produce the film adaptation of the story of Yasuke, who served under Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga in 16th century Japan.
Yasuke 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.
Doug Miro is writing the script. he co-created the hit Netflix series Narcos, which he continues to write and exec produce alongside co-creator Carlo Bernard and showrunner Eric Newman.
“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 Yasuke project has been percolating for awhile and Feig and the producers started it at Lionsgate when Feig headed production there. It shook loose when he left. MGM recently set a rival Yasuke project that has a script by Stuart C. Paul, and Whalerock Industries’ Lloyd Braun and Andrew Mittman producing.
Beyond Black Panther/T’Challa, 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. Boseman is represented by Greene & Associates Talent Agency and Management 360.
Coles is represented by Management 360, and this deal was brokered by UTA and completed prior the expiration of WGA/ATA’s franchise agreement on April 12.