Born in China to Japanese parents, Toshiro Mifune hoped to become an assistant cameraman after serving in World War II, but was deflected from this goal when he won a talent contest sponsored by Toho Studios. With no prior acting experience, he launched his movie career in 1946 and, two years later, worked for the first time with director Akira Kurosawa in Drunken Angel. In later interviews, Kurosawa said that, although worried about the untrained Mifune’s lack of artistic discipline, he “still…did not want to smother that vitality.” The director eventually came to realize that Mifune’s willingness to do and try anything before the camera was — for him, at least — preferable to the introspection and motivation-searching practiced by other Japanese actors.
Mifune’s raw, unbridled masculinity was ideal for such Kurosawa films as Rashomon (1950) and The Seven Samurai (1954). But as he matured artistically, the actor proved he was no one-trick pony, as demonstrated by his low-key… read more
Like De Niro, he always seems to play volatile men, on the edge of madness and violence; but he is really only compelling to me when he occasionally displays the doubt and torment of an ordinary man, as in "Seven Samurai". But he a vital muse to Kurosawa, an alter-ego almost, and without each other after 1965 each man badly lost his way.