March 13, 2024
Press Releases

The Cast and Creative Team Behind FX's Shōgun Talk Recreating the Samurai Saga with Japanese Authenticity In Emmy Magazine

Official Publication of the Television Academy Unveils a Fresh Redesign in the March 16 Issue 

Shōgun, FX's adaptation of the 1975 James Clavell novel, tells the compelling samurai story from an authentic Japanese point of view. The cast and creative team behind the epic saga talk with emmy about retelling the story for a modern audience and the depths they went to maintain the authenticity of 17th-century Japan. The official publication of the Television Academy is on sale Mar. 16, unveiling a fresh new design for the award-winning magazine. 

The narrative is set in motion when John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis), an English mariner whose ship goes off course, lands in feudal Japan. The 1980 NBC miniseries of the same name was a ratings hit that won three Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series. In "Shō Time," the creative team behind the FX limited series talks with emmy about bringing the story to life 44 years later with a new focus on the two lead Japanese characters: Lord Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada), a powerful warlord with sights on becoming the new Shōgun — the supreme military commander — and Lady Mariko (Anna Sawai), a disgraced Christian who is Toranaga's translator and Blackthorne's love interest. 

FX CEO John Landgraf's respect for the original source material sealed the deal for Michaela Clavell, the author's daughter and an executive producer on the series. "This is a modern Shōgun for a modern audience," she says. Showrunner Justin Marks (Counterpart) and his novelist wife, Rachel Kondo, signed on to the project in 2018 after it had sat in development for years. When Covid hit and production halted, the creators used the additional time to ensure historical accuracy. "Inclusivity isn't in Shōgun to make us feel better about ourselves," Marks says. "It's there because it improves art and makes the story real. It makes our understanding of the culture more specific and surprising." 

The large-scale production was meticulous about recreating authentic ancient Japanese culture and went to great lengths to bring it to life. Attention was paid to every detail, from native Japanese actors speaking in period-correct dialect to perfectly tied kimono belts (there are 100 different ways to tie a kimono, all with different meanings.) Sawai, who plays Lady Mariko, immersed herself in training for the role. "I had to relearn everything: how to walk, how to sit, how to hold chopsticks, how deep to bow—every gesture is so precise," she says. "It took 45 minutes just to get into a kimono." Costume designer Carlos Rosario spent 16 months studying Japanese textiles to ensure the accuracy of the placement and meaning of each fabric pattern.

In addition to playing Toranaga, Sanada is a producer on Shōgun. The veteran martial arts star gathered the best Japanese historians, translators and crew members before cameras rolled and stayed on long after filming was complete to ensure that every aspect of the story was correct. "Authenticity is important," he says. "Playing Toranaga was easy. Checking all the little things was the really hard part." 

Additional highlights from the new issue include:

  • In "American Dream Machine," the six business titans behind the four-time Emmy-winning series Shark Tank talk with emmy about spotlighting entrepreneurs and their fledgling products for 15 seasons.
  • The team behind Queens, the National Geographic docuseries that spotlights female leadership in the animal kingdom, discusses the groundbreaking female-led production in "Queen Bees." The seven-part series, narrated by Angela Bassett, premiered March 4 on National Geographic and is currently streaming on Disney+ and Hulu.
  • In "Winning Time," Warren Littlefield reflects on his long career in television, from his years as an exec at NBC, where he was a key figure behind such hits as The Golden Girls, E.R., Seinfeld and Friends, to his more recent work as an independent producer, with credits including Fargo, The Handmaid's Tale and Dopesick.
  • Emmy magazine unveils a redesign, including a new opening section called "Cold Open" covering a wide range of TV stories. This issue introduces new formats, such as "The TV That Made Me," in which interviewees discuss the TV series that helped define them, and "Location Scout," in which TV talent takes the reader on a tour of the city for their new project.

     About emmy
    Emmy, the official publication of the Television Academy, goes behind the scenes of the industry for a unique insider's view. With wide-ranging, inclusive subjects representative of the Television Academy membership and the medium as a whole, emmy showcases the scope of television and profiles the people who make it happen, from the stars of top shows and artisans behind the cameras, to programming trends and technological advances. Honored with dozens of awards for editorial excellence, emmy is published 12 times per year and is available on selected newsstands and at for single print and digital copies as well as subscriptions.

    Download the press release here

    For issue/coverage contacts:
    Stephanie Goodell

    breakwhitelight for the Television Academy

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