Shogun Stars Anna Sawai & Cosmo Jarvis Talk On-Screen Relationship & Favorite Moments (Exclusive)

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Shogun, Cosmo Jarvis, Hiroyuki Tanada, Anna Sawai

Shogun stars Anna Sawai and Cosmo Jarvis discussed their favorite moments working on the new FX drama, while also talking about their character’s on-screen romance.

The show, set in Feudal Japan, follows Lord Toranaga as the local political climate is thrown into chaos thanks to the arrival of Jarvis’ Englishman, John Blackthorne.

Not long after Blackthorne arrives in Japan, he’s introduced to Sawai’s Mariko, a local Portuguese translator who is a close ally of Toranaga’s.

[ Shogun 2024 Cast, Characters & Actors (Photos) ]

Anna Sawai and Cosmo Jarvis Discuss Their Favorite Moments on Shogun

Cosmo Jarvis and Anna Sawai in Shogun

In an exclusive interview with The Direct’s Russ Milheim, Shogun stars Anna Sawai and Cosmo Jarvis, who play Mariko and John Blackthorne, respectively, spoke about their favorite parts of their experience on the series.

When asked what part of her character she enjoyed exploring the most, she confidently pointed to how Mariko is “not waiting for anyone to save her:”

“I think it's really difficult because there's so many amazing qualities about Mariko. But I loved that--Because previous Japanese portrayals of women always used to kind of be, you know, they were always kind of with a male figure and kind of following them. And Mariko, I think she's not waiting for anyone to save her. You know, she has her own destiny in her hands. And although it's not obvious in the beginning, we really see that towards the end of the show, and that's what I loved about her.”

As for Jarvis’ favorite element of playing John Blackyhorne, he simply “liked scrutinizing and just studying the text a lot:”

“I guess I just liked scrutinizing and just studying the text a lot, and they're kind of, I guess, exploring all the different possible intentions that might be applicable to the purpose of that motivation or scene. I thought that was good.”

Anna Sawai as Mariko in Shogun

In the series, both Sawai and Jarvis’s characters spend a lot of time with each other. On developing that dynamic between the two, Sawai explained how she felt she got to know Jarvis “the same way Mariko was starting to understand Blackthorne:”

“I mean, honestly, he's so dedicated when he's working. He's just the character. So the way I viewed you, I feel, was very much how Mariko viewed Blackthorne… I think for me, it was like because we were shooting this chronologically. I got to get to know you. The same way Mariko was starting to understand Blackthorne. So it just felt very organic. And we spend a little bit of time [offset], you know, like we watched a couple of films. Yeah. But I think mostly it was just onset.”

The topic then shifted to their most unique experiences on set. While Jarvis started by saying that “it was all pretty unique,” he did make particular mention of “a huge hydraulic ship that they built” for one of the sets:

“I mean, it was all pretty unique. From day to day, every day was very different. And no two days were the same. Nothing particularly stands out. But that's just because I have a terrible memory. But I guess... There was-- one of the sets is a huge hydraulic ship that they built, which was pretty astounding. And it was something to remember.”

For Sawai, she leaned back on it being “everything”—from “learning how to walk” to how they spoke and even “wearing different kimonos:”

“I think for me, it was just everything. Because we were wearing different kimonos, we were learning how to walk, how to speak. Like, you know, people in 1600, Japan, and so everything was unique. I can't really choose one.”

Cosmo Jarvis as John Blackthorne in Shogun

In how their time on Shogun helped them grow as performers, Jarvis admitted that “[he] had never really been involved in anything that was quite so sweeping in that way before:”

“The whole thing, I mean, just because of the, it was already a sort of in a very new scale, and also from a from a story perspective because of the archetypal nature of the story and the thematics, it was quite--I had never really been involved in anything that was quite so sweeping in that way before. And so it was a welcome at exercise to be able to have worked on it. And it was, I guess, just the experience alone... [is] just useful piece of experience.”

At one point, “[I was] so ready to just move on to something more modern and light,” admitted Sawai, though eventually, her feelings changed to now “only want[ing] to do projects that dig that deep and that are that heavy:”

“I think, you know, Mariko was such a heavy character to play. And when we were towards the end of the shoot, I was like, I'm so ready to just move on to something more modern and light. But after seeing the final product, I have to say, you know, there's something just so profound about a character like that. And I only want to do projects that dig that deep and that are that heavy, even though it is tough when you're in the midst of the shoot.”

The first two episodes of Shogun are now streaming on Hulu and Disney+, with new installments debuting weekly.

Read more Shogun news and features below:

Shogun: What Is a Fief? Meaning In the Show, Explained

Will Shogun Season 2 Happen? Producers Address Series' Potential Future (Exclusive)

Shogun Show Vs. Book Differences Explained by Producer (Exclusive)

- In This Article: Shogun
Release Date
February 27, 2024
Cable TV
Anna Sawai
Cosmo Jarvis
Hiroyuki Sanada
- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.