Chadwick Boseman Tapped To Play Japan's First Black Samurai, Yasuke

“The legend of Yasuke is one of history’s best-kept secrets,” the "Black Panther" star said of the role.
Matt Winkelmeyer via Getty Images

Chadwick Boseman has found himself in another epic role.

The “Black Panther” actor has been tapped to star as Yasuke, the first African samurai in Japanese history, Deadline reported.

“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, according to Deadline. “That’s not just an action movie, that’s a cultural event, an exchange, and I am excited to be part of it.” Although Yasuke was the first, there have been other non-Asian samurai since.

There was talk of the movie’s development back in 2017, when Mike De Luca and Stephen L’Heureux said they were co-producing a film based on Yasuke’s story. Doug Miro, co-creator of “Narcos,” will be writing the script, Deadline reported.

According to the biography “African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan,” by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girard, Yasuke was originally taken from his village near the Nile by slavers and eventually sent to India to serve the Portuguese.

He ended up in Japan in 1579 as an indentured bodyguard and valet of powerful Portuguese Jesuit missionary Alessandro Valignano. The missionary, who sought to curry favor with the warlord Oda Nobunaga, gave the warlord Yasuke as “a weapon bearer and novelty.”

Nobunaga awarded Yasuke, a valiant and mighty fighter, the prestigious status of samurai. And Yasuke was revered by those around him.

“People in the streets did not only gape at him,” the biographers wrote. “They bowed, heads to the earth, as they addressed him.”

Clarification: Boseman stated Yasuke was the only non-Asian samurai. While Yasuke was the first, he has not been the only one.

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