The illustrious résumé of Tatsuya Nakadai doubles as a snapshot of Japanese cinema in its golden age. Starting in the 1950s, the wildly prolific actor made a career out of shape-shifting, amassing credits in a wide range of films that run the gamut from devastating humanist tragedies to breathtaking action and science fiction. Now eighty-four, Nakadai paid a visit to New York late last year, and while in town he stopped by the Criterion office to talk with East Asian cinema scholar Aaron Gerow about five of the master filmmakers who shepherded some of his finest performances to the screen: Masaki Kobayashi, Akira Kurosawa, Mikio Naruse, Kihachi Okamoto, and Hiroshi Teshigahara. Today, we’re premiering that conversation on the Criterion Channel along with a series of nine classics that showcase the actor at the height of his powers. In the below excerpt, Nakadai sheds light on one of his most iconic moments as a samurai hero, recounting his experience shooting his blood-gushing climactic face-off with Toshiro Mifune in Kurosawa’s Sanjuro.
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