More Japanese Stars For Eastwood

Red Sun, Black Sand gets a cast

Clint Eastwood’s World War II double-bill, Flags of our Fathers and Red Sun, Black Sand is now well underway. Looking at the Pacific war and specifically the Battle of Iwo Jima from the American and Japanese perspectives respectively, shooting on the second film, Red Sun, is due to start later this month. And with that plan comes some new casting details for the film.

Ken Watanabe has been lined up for the leading role of Japanese general Tadamichi Kuribayashi, who led the Japanese forces during the gruelling battle for Iwo Jima for 40 days and nights.

Kazunari Ninomiya (a member of Japanese pop group Arashi), Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase and Shido Nakamura have all signed on for the film – we’re guessing as soldiers under Kuribayashi’s command. While not household names outside Japan (or even big stars within Japan), their casting shows Eastwood’s commitment to making this a Japanese production, even if large parts of it are due to shoot in LA. Eastwood has, however, been given special permission to shoot the exteriors in Iwo Jima itself.

In addition to its American director, the film is being produced by Americans: Eastwood and Steven Spielberg among them, with Paul Haggis executive-producing and assisting Japanese-American screenwriter Iris Yamashita in writing the story. Eastwood is currently in post-production on Flags of our Fathers, with both films due for a staggered release later this year.