Shogun’s Anna Sawai Explains Why She Was Forced To Miss Auditioning To Play Katana In Suicide Squad

 Anna Sawai stands defiantly next to an armored guard in Shōgun.
Anna Sawai stands defiantly next to an armored guard in Shōgun.

The last 12 months have been big for actress Anna Sawai, whom some were already familiar with for playing Elle in F9 and Naomi in Pachinko. In addition to being one of the key ensemble players in the MonsterVerse series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (which, like Pachinko, can be streamed with an Apple TV+ subscription), she’s also been making waves over the last few months in the miniseries Shogun (which is streamable with a Hulu subscription). However, long before any of these projects came her way, she had the opportunity to audition to play Katana in Suicide Squad, but she was forced to miss it.

For context, Sawai became famous in Japan for being a member of the FAKY girl group from 2013 to 2018. She’d signed with with entertainment company Apex, which has churned out many J-Pop stars, in 2006, and while she was undergoing “training,” she got permission to play a role in 2009’s Ninja Assassin, her film debut. Upon joining FAKY, Sawai was told by Apex that being part of the group would help further her acting career, but when Suicide Squad came her way, the company instead told her that she wasn’t allowed to audition. As the actress recalled THR:

I was like, ‘This is my chance!’ And then I go to my manager and he’s like, ‘You can’t audition.’ They basically told me that if I’m gone for over a month, the girls [the other members of FAKY] are not going to have anything to do… It felt like they were really tying me down, and because of my contract, I couldn’t leave until the time that I actually left [in 2018].

While Anna Sawai argued that appearing in Suicide Squad would be beneficial for FAKY rather than detrimental, the people over at Apex wouldn’t change their mind. So as a result, Karen Fukuhara, who’s nowadays well known for playing Kimiko Miyashiro/The Female in The Boys, was cast as Katana instead, and Sawai wasn’t free to pursue acting again until she departed FAKY. Although disappointed she couldn’t work on Suicide Squad, Sawai was impressed with Fukuhara’s Katana performance, saying:

She did an amazing job, and I respect her so much, and I love her. But also, I would have loved to audition for it.

Suicide Squad was the third of the DC movies in order during the DCEU era, following five months after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Unlike most of the members of the officially-designated Task Force X, Katana, a.k.a. Tatsu Yamashiro, was not a criminal who was going on the dangerous mission exchange for a reduced sentence, but rather served as team leader Rick Flag’s body guard. She wielded the Soultaker Blade, which held her husband’s soul and trapped the souls of anyone she killed with it. Karen Fukuhara was the second actress to play Katana in live-action, following Rila Fukushima in Arrow.

As for Anna Sawai, she’s expected to return for Pachinko Season 2, although a premiere date hasn’t been announced yet, and it’s also a good bet she’ll be back for Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Season 2. We’ll keep you apprised of any other projects she’ll be part of once they’re revealed, but in the meantime, catch up to speed on cinematic goings-on with our 2024 movies schedule and upcoming DC movies guide.