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With The Wolverine, Fox’s long-delayed follow-up to 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, finally set to begin filming next month, Superhero Hype reports director James Mangold has cast four Japanese actors in key roles.
Based in part on the 1982 Wolverine miniseries by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, the film has Logan (played again by Hugh Jackman) battling ninjas, Silver Samurai and the politics of the Tokyo criminal underworld for the heart of his ex-lover, the daughter of a Japanese crime lord.
According to the website, Hiroyuki Sanada (Lost, The Last Samurai) will play Shingen Yashida, the Yakuza crime boss and father of Wolverine’s fiancee Mariko Yashida and the mutant Keniuchio Harada, who became Silver Samurai. Veteran actor Hal Yamanouchi (The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Push) is pegged for the role of Yashida, although it’s unclear how that differs from Shingen.
For the parts of Mariko and Wolverine’s ally Yukio, a thief and ninja, the studio turned to two actors relatively unknown outside of Japan and the world of fashion: models Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukushima.
The Wolverine was delivered twin setbacks in March 2011 with the devastating earthquake in Japan, where much of the story takes place, and the surprise departure of original director Darren Aronofsky, who was unwilling to be out of the United States, away from his family, for the duration of the production. Filming was further delayed by Jackman’s commitment to Les Misérables.
Fox Studios Australia, where much of X-Men Origins: Wolverine was filmed, will be used for stage work, with the production moving to Japan for location shoots. The Wolverine opens July 26, 2013.