Trading a kingship for a katana, Chadwick Boseman has signed on to play the historical figure of Yasuke in an upcoming, untitled biopic.
The swordsman in question is heralded as the “only person of non-Asian origin to become a Samurai,” as well as “the first black man to set foot on Japanese soil,” according to Deadline. Some light investigation reveals Yasuke is thought to have been from Mozambique, brought to Japan as a slave by Portuguese travelers. Arriving during Japan’s tumultuous Sengoku, or Warring States period, Yasuke caught the eye of powerful warlord Oda Nobunaga, and eventually earned a position as a retainer of Nobunaga’s.
On his casting, Boseman shed some light, saying the story is more than “just an action movie, [it’s] a cultural event, an exchange, and I am excited to be part of it.” Doug Miro, who co-created Narcos at Netflix, is writing the script. Interestingly, MGM has a Yasuke film from a script by Stuart C Paul in the works, so the race is on to see who’s quicker on the draw.