How John Wayne, Steve McQueen, and Gene Kelly Inspired One ‘Bullet Train’ Star

by Joe Rutland
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Hiroyuki Sanada is an international film star who can be seen in Bullet Train but he’s also a big fan of John Wayne. In fact, the mixture of incredible actors like Wayne, Steve McQueen, and Gene Kelly would have an impact on him. Sanada started out as a child actor and would grow into his work. It might seem strange to some people that Sanada would be impacted by Wayne’s work. Still, fans of The Duke are not that surprised. His on-screen presence keeps drawing all types of people to his movies years after Wayne died in 1979. Let’s see what Sanada said about him.

“When I was 10 years old, I started watching a movie as an audience for the first time,” Sanada told Deadline. “Then, at that time, I saw a lot of great Hollywood movie(s) or European movie(s). A big star, like John Wayne, Steve McQueen…big star doing all their stunts. Or Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, singing, dancing, themselves. So I thought if I can continue acting in the future, I’d like to do everything by myself.

John Wayne Put In The Work Ahead Of His Bigger Roles

“That was my idea to start training for dancing, singing, sword fighting, horseback riding, everything,” Sanada said. “So, not only one, but those movies taught me that it’s a ‘played by’ or ‘stunt by’ the original actor is a great service to the audience. So…I decided to start training.” You can see Sanada, who was born in Tokyo, appearing next with Keanu Reeves in the movie John Wick 4.

“I was a child actor and I started studying when I was 5 years old,” Sanada said. “Before I saw the movie, I was on set. My first experience to see a movie was my own film screening room in the studio. I just continued filming and acting.” If you know something about John Wayne’s own work on the big screen, then he, too, simply put the work in before the bigger roles would come along. Once the bigger roles started happening, though, The Duke would find his rhythm.

It might be cool to wonder just how many other foreign actors were influenced by Wayne. American and European audiences know that just seeing him on the big screen can leave them breathless. The Searchers, In Harm’s Way, Operation Pacific, The Shootist, and many others dot the Wayne resume. For Gene Kelly, the venerable actor-singer had roles in Singin’ in the Rain, Anchors Aweigh, and An American in Paris, among others. Steve McQueen appeared on TV in Wanted: Dead or Alive and in movies like Bullitt, The Getaway, and The Great Escape. If Sanada saw one of these movies, then it probably helped his career.

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