‘Shōgun’ Star Hiroyuki Sanada Inks Deal To Return For Season 2 As FX Limited Series Mulls Emmy Switch To Drama Amid Renewal Buzz

EXCLUSIVE: Hiroyuki Sanada, star and producer of FX’s limited series Shōgun, has closed a deal to return as Lord Yoshii Toranaga, sources tell Deadline. Securing Sanada, whose character’s journey to become shōgun and lead Japan to an era of peace was chronicled in the 10-episode adaptation of James Clavell’s novel, has been considered crucial to any plan to extend Shogun beyond its original installment.

Other elements are still being worked out and deals are being finalized as part of an effort by FX to take Shogun to a second season in light of the big commercial and critical success of the limited series. The outcome of the effort would determine whether Shōgun would be considered a limited or drama series going forward, which could have major ramifications on the 2024 Emmy race, with the timing of the decision tied to the deadline for Emmy submissions.

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In part because of the strikes, which delayed new seasons of ongoing series and drove networks and platforms to lean heavily on limited series, the drama series field is lighter than usual this year while the limited/anthology race, in which Shōgun is a lead contender, is one of the most competitive ever assembled in any Emmy genre.

While there are precedents, including True Detective‘s first season competing as a drama series instead of limited/anthology — something that was rectified for its subsequent installments — the vast majority of limited series are submitted as such. If they subsequently get additional seasons, the shows move to drama series starting in Season 2, which was the case with Downton Abbey, Big Little Lies and The White Lotus.

Shōgun is looking to move into the drama series category from the start if a determination about a potential second installment is made in time to adjust Emmy submissions. Not all the pieces are in place for that, sources said, but the significant deal with Sanada is a great start.

As the titular character, Sanada was at the heart of the story in the original installment, which Toranaga, a brilliant strategist and a master of the long game, spent largely in opposition, plotting how to overthrow the oppressive fellow Regents in feudal Japan and unite the country.

Six years in the making across multiple continents, Shōgun, written by Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo, is FX’s most expensive series to date. Ahead of the series premiere, FX Chairman John Landgraf said that he was hoping it would do well so he and his team could take more shots with big-scope, big-budget series like that.

Following great reviews and strong performance as Shōgun amassed 9M views globally across Hulu, Disney+ and Star+ in its first six days, becoming the company’s No. 1 general entertainment series internationally and the No. 1 FX premiere on the Disney streaming platforms, the network is looking to extend that success with another season — and capitalize on its investment recreating 17th century Japan in Canada where Shōgun was filmed.

Veteran actor-producer Sanada, whose prolific career spans decades, was recently seen in John Wick: Chapter 4, Bullet Train and Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead and next reprises his Mortal Kombat role in the upcoming sequel. He is repped by Gersh, Axon Entertainment, Lighthouse Entertainment, MPR and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.

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