HIROYUKI_whiteThe filmmakers were looking for an Asian actor to play the most experienced astronaut of the crew, Icarus II’s Captain Kaneda. Boyle had seen Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada in Yoji Yamada’s highly acclaimed THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI and was bowled over by his presence. “He gives this extraordinary and majestic performance,” Boyle recalls.  “When I met him I felt he had that kind of natural authority that makes people respect him automatically, which was crucial for the character.”

For Sanada, playing Kaneda was a huge challenge, with SUNSHINE only his second English-language feature. “I love Danny’s films, they have good tension and rhythm in the world he creates,” says Sanada. “The script has great human drama. A group of people spending a lot of time together confined in a spaceship, it is not only serious entertainment but also has very profound meaning and a deep soul.”