The Railway Man
Sunday 26th January 2014
1942. Tens of thousands of brave young soldiers become prisoners of war when Japanese forces overrun Singapore. Churchill calls it "the greatest disaster ever to have befallen the British Empire". Eric Lomax, a 21 year old Signals Engineer and railway enthusiast, is one of the surrendered men.
Sent to work on the construction of the notorious Death Railway in Thailand, Eric witnesses unimaginable suffering; men forced to hack through rock and jungle with their bare hands, beaten, starved and prey to tropical diseases. He builds a secret radio to bring hope. As he whispers news of Hitler's defeats or American advances in the Pacific, a thousand backs straighten and exhausted, desperate men resolve to survive another day.
When the radio is discovered, Eric faces beatings, interrogation and worse. Barely surviving the war he returns home, like so many others, to a country unable to imagine what he and his colleagues have been through. Haunted by the face of one young Japanese officer, he shuts himself off from the world.
And then one day, decades later, he meets a beautiful woman - on a train, of course. She makes him laugh for the first time. They court like teenagers and marry quickly. But on their wedding night Eric's nightmares return; the young Japanese officer dragging him back to the horrors of the past, insisting the war is not over. Patti finds him screaming on the bedroom floor. Humiliated and confused, Eric disappears inside himself again, turning his silent fury on his wife, making her life unbearable.
Patti struggles to find out what torments the man she loves. Battling the code of silence that unites the former prisoners of war she persuades the enigmatic Finlay to tell her a shocking secret. The Japanese officer who holds the key to what really happened to her husband is still alive and Finlay knows where he is. Patti must decide: should Eric, a man desperate for revenge, be given this information? Will she stand by him, whatever he does?
Her decision sets up a return to Thailand for a stunning, unexpected and ultimately triumphant finale to an extraordinary true story of heroism, humanity and the redeeming power of love.
The Railway Man is based on Eric Lomax's best-selling memoir and a series of meetings, over many years, with Lomax and his wife, Patti. Eric died in 2012, having lived long enough to visit the set of the film.
The film was shot in Scotland, Queensland and Thailand. Major sequences were filmed on the actual Death Railway, reclaimed from the jungle seventy years after the events that claimed tens of thousands of lives.
For Frank Cottrell Boyce and Andy Paterson, finding the right way to tell the story was the first and most difficult task. Characters who can't or won't communicate aren't easy to put on screen. Lomax had written that 'the ordinary former Far East Pow has probably never talked to anyone about his experiences. The victim of torture most certainly does not talk.'
Their first meetings with Lomax were only two years after the book was published. "We realised later that we'd come into a story that was still unfolding. Suddenly a man who had blocked out the world for decades was a public figure, expected to share his most intimate secrets".
"Initially we had expected to tell the whole story, exactly as it happened in the book. But when, for example, Eric talked about the aftermath of the meeting with Nagase, how somehow 'all the pain just went away', we realised even he didn't yet fully understand how that had happened".
Producer Bill Curbishley believes "the book has quite rightly been called a classic of autobiography. But Patti is barely mentioned. We suspected that was hurtful to her, but she would never say it. She's a wonderful, loyal, no-nonsense lady, not given to self-pity. For a long time she refused to accept that her story mattered at all. How could her suffering compare to what those men went through on the railway? Yet, as Colin Firth put it much later, there is no story without Patti. She was the miracle in Eric's life".
There was no doubt that Lomax spent decades "nursing himself to sleep" with thoughts of revenge. Jonathan Teplitzky recalls sitting, later, with Eric and Colin Firth. "Colin asked him if he would have killed Nagase and Eric immediately said 'Yes'. He had clearly thought it through many times". The filmmakers needed to understand how Lomax could have made the journey from wanting "to cage, to beat, to drown" his former tormentor to a place of relative peace.
Crucial insights would come from Helen Bamber, who had been a key figure in Eric's rehabilitation. Bamber had entered the Belsen concentration camp at the age of nineteen and stayed there for 2 1/2 years. After working with Amnesty, she founded the Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture. Eric says his first meeting with her was "like walking through a door into an unexplored world, of caring and special understanding. She learned as a girl in Belsen the importance of allowing people to tell what had been done to them; the power of listening to their testimony and of giving people the recognition that their experience deserves".
Colin Firth had known a man who'd been on the Death Railway. "He was actually our local Labour parliamentary candidate and it was often told how this is something he carried with him and that he'd actually had some sort of experience of reconciliation. It all connected".
"In an awful lot of screenwriting you get a generic hero of one sort of another. There was nothing generic here - the character jumped off the page. Eric felt completely unique to the story; his passion for railway timetables and trains, his extraordinarily intense, soldierly qualities - loyalty and a commitment to a sense of honour, all combined to make a very dynamic personality. There's also this very dark side which was to do with the degree to which he'd suffered and that was also very powerful to read. So you have a man who's delightful, but there's a mystery to him".
Jeremy Irvine had actually read the book a few years before being sent the screenplay and arrived at his first casting meeting with fifty pages of notes. "This was a story with real integrity, real emotion and also something that needed to be told because it's truly extraordinary - and I don't use that word lightly".
Did Irvine find it intimidating to find himself playing the young Colin Firth? "Suddenly I was working with one of the greatest actors of a generation. Colin was so open about his process and so helpful and kind and understanding and really did want us to work together so it was just wonderful. I could phone him up and say 'do you think this will work?' and he'd say 'well I don't know let's play with it' and we'd workshop together and that's something that most 21 year old actors only get to dream of, doing this sort of masterclass with an actor like Colin".
For Teplitzky the time the two spent together was the best kind of rehearsal. "Because it's a split experience, where Colin has to deal with the emotional consequences of what Jeremy physically and emotionally goes through, there needed to be a trading of what those experiences mean for each of them".
Nicole Kidman read the script and responded immediately. "I'd never had the chance to play a woman who gets to stand by her partner, her lover, her husband through very difficult times and it's something I feel very strongly about and have done in my own personal life. I do believe there's a way in which love can heal, by just gently, slowly, encouraging someone to confront things and I wanted to do that on screen. That's the thread Patti and I share, obviously in very different situations, but I connected to her".
"I've always believed that people fuse through pain. People don't fall in love, or really find deep love when everything is good. When you really find it is when you have to go through pain together. And if you choose to stay together you really find something much deeper".
Firth and Kidman had both worked with Stellan Skarsgaard before. Teplitzky remembers that "as soon as Stellan's name came up we all just fell in love with the idea. It needed an actor who brought great weight, truthfulness and believability to an enigmatic role. He anchors the film, he's sometimes the narrator and he brings great warmth, helping Patti to understand why her husband is shutting her out".
Hiroyuki Sanada was stunned when he read the script. "I had heard about the Death Railway before but I didn't know any details. The Japanese education system doesn't talk about this. When I started research I was shocked and surprised and felt a kind of mission as a Japanese born actor, to tell this story to the world and to the young generation, to re-examine history. I believe learning language means learning culture and Mr Nagase was a translator so he had a chance to find out what the rest of the world thought about Japanese militarism. That's why he started trying to pray for the Prisoners of War and the Asian workers and I felt the same mission. If we don't know what happened in the past, how can we learn from it? That's why I wanted to join this film as an actor and as a Japanese.
Tanroh Ishida, who plays the young Nagase, feels that "my generation will be very surprised because they don't know about this story. You're not taught it - you only find out about it if you choose to look". But Ishida was keen to understand the pressures his character would have been under. "It's something very hard for us to get hold of because it's new for us in our generation. The belief was that the Emperor was the god and you had to give your life to him. There was no 'you' - you're just part of the group or the nation. Especially for Western society it's very hard to imagine but that's how it was back then".
Edinburgh - Eric Lomax's home town - provided the perfect base for the Scottish shoot. The Bo'Ness and Kinneil private railway, run by enthusiasts and volunteers, had working trains and stations; Perth station had beautiful period platforms, some of which are no longer used by the network, making them easier for filming and North Berwick provided a wonderful house on a beach. Even more crucial for the filmmakers - and Patti Lomax - it meant they were in reach of Berwick-upon-Tweed, where the story is really set. For Nicole Kidman a special moment had arrived.
She had chosen not to meet the real Patti thus far. "I didn't want to meet her until I'd started. I'd read a lot and seen interviews where she told a lot of her story and was very open, but I just felt nervous to meet her. So it was actually the perfect way because we were shooting in her town and we drove to their house and sat in the living room; Patti, Eric, Colin and I and we talked and there were tears and laughter and a connection and it felt very pure and then I got to walk through her garden with her and we both love flowers and we talked about roses and flowers and bonded over that and it was just for me a very gentle way to meet this person I was trying to portray".
Thailand was where the cast began to understand a little more of what Eric and tens of thousands of others had experienced. The actual Death Railway line still operates, largely for tourists, from Bangkok as far as Kanchanaburi and forty miles beyond. Jeremy Irvine discovered what happened after that.
"When we reached Thailand our military advisor, Rod Beattie, took Sam Reid (Young Finlay) and I up into the mountains, to a section of the railway which had been reclaimed by the jungle. We helped him clear a section of it and you're working there in 40 degree heat and 98% humidity with just hand tools as the POWs would have done and we did maybe an hour and a half and I was wrecked. You're dripping sweat from the moment you get out of the van and we weren't even lugging all our kit with us. To imagine doing that for 16 hours a day on such meagre food rations and very little water, that was a very big moment, really brought it home".
"And visiting the real Hellfire Pass you get a sense that these places are haunted by the thousands and thousands of young boys, three years younger than me, who were doing this work. It was an intense experience".
Firth agrees. "Something immense happened there and it can't fail to leave a mark, whether it's the power of your imagination or not. It was something beyond the comprehension of most people. You stand in a huge cutting in the rock, it's towering above you and you're told this was carved by men with hand tools in the space of six week and this is how many men died just here, it's shattering actually. I saw several documentaries, one with an Aussie who said "I don't believe in the supernatural but those boys walk here".
Kidman had been warned by Patti Lomax: "She said - be careful when you get to Hellfire Pass. It has a power. There's just something there, you can feel the darkness and it stays with you. Patti said the moment she absorbed it, when she first visited, she wept, not just for Eric but for all the boys there and Eric comforted her.
That scene was shot on Eric Lomax's 93rd birthday. A very special greeting from Firth, Kidman and the entire crew was sent from Hellfire Pass to Berwick-upon-Tweed. It's one of Jonathan Teplitzky's happiest memories of the shoot: "getting everyone to sing Happy Birthday to Eric in Hintok Pass was pretty profound, that we could record it on an iPhone and email it to him so he could watch it a few hours later when he woke up...".. The technological advances weren't lost on Eric, a former Signals Engineer.
After the freezing weather in Scotland and the intense tropical heat of the Thai jungle, the filmmakers moved on to the Gold Coast in Queensland, where the prisoner of war camp and the studio sets were being built. For production designer Steven Jones-Evans, the greatest challenge had been the sheer physical separation of the locations. "We prepped in Queensland, then had to go off and prep and shoot Scotland and Thailand. By the time we got back to Australia we'd been away for three months". Producer Chris Brown said "Over the five years that Andy Paterson and I worked on the project, authenticity and the book were our touchstones, so the look of the picture was crucial. "Steven did a fantastic job. The prisoner of war camp was the most extraordinary construction, based on original plans, perfectly authentic down to the last stick".
Teplitzky was confident. "You feel as if you can go into any battle if you have the team you trust and we were lucky enough to have the whole team from our previous film, Burning Man. You share an aesthetic, you know they all understand what we're trying to achieve and they have great taste in people".
The weather added the final touches to the design; tropical storms moved in over the camp. Again, Teplitzky loved it: "The rain helped the film. Filming waist deep in mud was tough but it felt right. The rainy season in 1943 was the worst time of all for the POWs. It raised our adventure to new heights and demanded a lot of everyone but no one was going to complain. We were all humbled by the tiny inkling it gave us of what the real people must have gone through".
Churchill called the Fall of Singapore, on February 15th 1942, "the greatest disaster ever to have befallen the British Empire". Outnumbered, outgunned, with little air support and with virtually no knowledge of fighting in jungle terrain, the Allied forces stood little chance against an organised enemy, who confounded expectations by advancing down through the Malayan jungle instead of attacking from the sea.
25,800 British and 18,000 Australian servicemen were amongst the 200,000 men who found themselves prisoners of the Japanese.
The defeat of the Japanese navy at the Battle of Midway in June 1942 effectively shut off the sea route to the Indian Ocean and triggered a decision to complete a rail link from China to India, to supply the Japanese campaign in Burma. The missing piece of that line was the 415 km section from Thailand into Burma, a route that would soon become notorious as the "Death Railway".
The British had considered building this line forty years earlier but abandoned it due to the difficult terrain - carving through mountains and jungle - the climate, health conditions and the sheer difficulty of the logistics.
The Japanese Government was not a signatory to the Geneva Convention and deemed that anyone taken prisoner forfeited their rights and was considered to have changed sides. They therefore made the decision to put the Allied prisoners of war to work on the railway.
Conditions were horrific. 6,648 British and 2,710 Australian POWs are known to have died, with many more left traumatised by their experiences. Many Allied survivors are keen to stress that the local Asian workers suffered the harshest treatment, with more than 80,000 deaths, representing around half the workforce.
Those veterans are equally likely to point out their dismay that the little most people know about the Death Railway comes from the David Lean film, The Bridge On The River Kwai - a great film in its own way, but an acknowledged work of fiction. Eric Lomax's comment was that he had "never seen such well-fed prisoners of war".
There was in fact no bridge over the River Kwai, because there was no river called the Kwai. The film itself was shot in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. Much later, to satisfy a growing tourist demand to visit such a bridge, the Thai authorities changed the name of a river crossed by the only remaining prisoner of war built bridge, at Kanchanaburi, where some of The Railway Man was filmed.
Colin Firth. A classically trained British theatre actor, Academy Award winner Colin Firth is a veteran of film, television and theatre, with an impressive body of work spanning over three decades. He has appeared in three films that have won the Academy Award for Best Picture: The King's Speech, Shakespeare in Love and The English Patient.
Firth earned an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, British Independent Film Award, Critics' Choice Award and his second consecutive BAFTA Award in 2011 for his performance as King George VI in The King's Speech. The film also won the Screen Actors Guild Award for 'Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.' Firth also won the BAFTA Award in 2010 and the Volpi Cup for 'Best Actor' at the 2009 Venice Film Festival for his performance in Tom Ford's A Single Man.
Upcoming Firth will also be seen in Devil's Knot which is directed by Atom Egoyan and also stars Reese Witherspoon. The film chronicles the infamous "West Memphis Three" case involving the savage murders of three young children which sparked a controversial trial of three teenagers. He is currently in production on an untitled comedy opposite Emma Stone which is written and directed by Woody Allen. He will next begin shooting The Secret Service directed by Matthew Vaughn as well as the literary drama Genius directed by Michael Grandage. The film is based on the book which surrounds the relationship between Thomas Wolfe and his editor Max Perkins.
He previously worked with Railway Man producer Andy Paterson on the Oscar-nominated film Girl with a Pearl Earring opposite Scarlett Johansson.
His film credits include Tomas Alfredson's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy opposite Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy, Mamma Mia! (the highest grossing film of all time in the UK), Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Love Actually written and directed by Richard Curtis, Helen Hunt's Then She Found Me, Anand Tucker's When Did You Last See Your Father?, Stephan Elliott's Easy Virtue, Michael Winterbottom's Genova, A Christmas Carol, The Importance of Being Earnest, Atom Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies, Marc Evans' thriller Trauma, Nanny McPhee, What a Girl Wants, A Thousand Acres, with Michelle Pfeiffer and Jessica Lange, Apartment Zero, My Life So Far, Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch, Circle of Friends, Playmaker and the title role in Milos Forman's Valmont opposite Annette Bening.
On the small screen, Firth is infamous for his breakout role in as "Mr. Darcy" in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, for which he received a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor and the National Television Award for Most Popular Actor.
Firth is an active supporter of Oxfam International, an organization dedicated to fighting poverty and related injustice around the world. He was honored with the 'Humanitarian Award' by BAFTA/LA at their 2009 Britannia Awards. In 2008 he was named Philanthropist of the Year by The Hollywood Reporter. In 2006, Firth was voted European Campaigner of the Year by the EU.
Nicole Kidman first came to the attention of American audiences with her critically acclaimed performance in Phillip Noyce's riveting 1989 psychological thriller Dead Calm. She has since become an internationally-recognized, award-winning actress known for her range and versatility.
Kidman was awarded her first Golden Globe for a pitch-perfect, wickedly funny portrayal of a woman obsessed with becoming a TV personality at all costs in Gus Van Sant's To Die For. In 2002, she received dual Golden Globe nominations for her performance in writer/director Alejandro Amenabar's psychological thriller The Others as well as her work as Satine in Moulin Rouge! Her performance in Moulin Rouge! earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical as well as her first Oscar nomination. In the following years, Kidman was nominated three additional times for her performances in Jonathan Glazer's Birth, Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain and Robert Benton's Billy Bathgate.
In 2010, Kidman starred opposite Aaron Eckhart in Rabbit Hole, for which she received Academy Award, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Actress. The film was developed by Kidman's production company, Blossom Films. Kidman's additional film credits include Margot at the Wedding, The Golden Compass, Academy Award winning animated musical Happy Feet; Just Go with It, Nine with Daniel Day Lewis, Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard, Australia, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, The Interpreter, Bewitched, The Human Stain, Dogville, Eyes Wide Shut, Birthday Girl, The Peacemaker, The Portrait of a Lady, Batman Forever, Malice and Far and Away. She also narrated the documentary release (Sundance Grand Jury Award and Audience Award-winner), God Grew Tired of Us and also narrated the film biography of Simon Wiesenthal, I Have Never Forgotten You.
In October 2012, Kidman was seen starring in Lee Daniel's The Paperboy with Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron and John Cusack. Her performance earned her an AACTA, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe nomination.
Kidman was most recently seen in Chan-wook Park's Stoker with Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode and Dermot Mulroney. She will next be seen in Grace of Monaco, portraying the role of Grace Kelly. Kidman most recently finished filming Before I Go To Sleep alongside her Railway Man co-star, Colin Firth.
In the fall of 1998, Kidman made her London stage debut, starring with Iain Glenn in The Blue Room. For her performance Kidman was awarded London's Evening Standard Award and received a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress.
In 2012, Kidman was seen in HBO's Hemingway and Gellhorn alongside Clive Owen. Her portrayal as Martha Gellhorn earned her Emmy, SAG and Golden Globe nominations.
In January of 2006, Kidman was awarded Australia's highest honor, the Companion in the Order of Australia. She was also named and continues to serve, as Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Development Fund for Women, UN Women, whose goals are to foster women's empowerment and gender equality, to raise awareness of the infringement on women's human rights around the world and to end violence against women. Kidman has also lent her voice in support of the Women's Cancer Program at Stanford with Dr. Jonathan Berek. Along with her husband, Keith Urban, she has helped raise millions over the years for the Women's Cancer Program which is a world-renowned center for research into the causes, treatment, prevention and eventual cure of women's cancer.
Jeremy Irvine made his feature film debut in Steven Spielberg's War Horse, in which he starred as Albert, a young man who travels to France to find his horse, Joey, who has been sent to fight in World War II. The film received a Best Picture nomination for the 2012 Academy Awards and Best Picture - Drama Golden Globe nomination. The film was released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures on December 25, 2011.
He was most recently seen in BBC Films' Great Expectations, in which he starred as Pip. The film, adapted from Charles Dickens' classic novel, is directed by Mike Newell. The cast included Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter. The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on September 11, 2012 and was selected to be the closing film at the 56th BFI London Film Festival. Irvine was also seen in Now is Good opposite Dakota Fanning, who plays a teenage girl with a terminal illness who resolves to live her life on fast forward. The film, based on Jenny Downham's novel Before I Die, is directed by Ol Parker and was released in the UK by Sony Pictures on September 21, 2012.
Irvine recently wrapped production on also recently wrapped production on The World Made Straight, which is directed by David Burris. Also starring Adelaide Clemens and Minka Kelly, the film chronicles a rebellious young man in a rural Appalachian community haunted by the legacy of a Civil War massacre. Next he will begin shooting The Woman in Black: Angels of Death, directed by Tom Harper.
Irvine spent a year at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and has appeared in stage productions including the Royal Shakespeare Company's Dunsinane, an update to Macbeth. He also appeared in the Disney Channel UK's sketch series Life Bites.
Stellan Skarsgaard. One of the busiest and most versatile actors working today, Skarsgaard moves effortlessly between independent cinema and Hollywood blockbusters. His work with Lars von Trier includes Breaking The Waves, Dogville (with his Railway Man co-star, Nicole Kidman), Melancholia and the forthcoming Nymphomania. He played Dr Erik Selvig in Marvel's Thor and The Avengers, Bootstrap Bill Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and starred in David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
His last collaboration with Colin Firth was in a very different key, as two of three potential fathers in the wildly succesful Mamma Mia!
A teenage star on Swedish television, he spent 16 years with the Swedish Royal Dramatic Theatre and has appeared in more than 80 films.
Hiroyuki Sanada. As one of Japan's most talented and highest regarded actors of his generation, Hiroyuki Sanada has garnered the attention of American and foreign audiences with over fifty films and a Japanese Oscar® to his name.
Sanada was recently seen in 20th Century Fox's action feature, X-Men: The Wolverine, directed by James Mangold and starring opposite Hugh Jackman. In the film, Sanada stars as Shingen, a crime boss and major enemy of Wolverine (Jackman).
Currently, Sanada is in post-production on Universal Pictures' 47 Ronin, where he stars opposite Keanu Reeves as Oishi, the chief samurai of the Asano clan. Based on one of Japanese history's most celebrated true stories, the film follows forty-seven disbanded samurai or "ronin" as they take on a mythical army in order to avenge their master's wrongful death in 18th century Japan.
Sanada started his career in film when he was 5 years old and later won the Japanese Academy Award for his role in The Twilight Samurai where he played a mid-19th century low-ranking samurai employed as a bureaucrat. The film was also nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film. On the heels of this success, Sanada made his mark with American audiences when he starred alongside Tom Cruise in Ed Zwick's The Last Samurai.
Since then, Sanada has been seen in a number of notable features including James Ivory's The City of Your Final Destination alongside Anthony Hopkins; The White Countess opposite Ralph Fiennes; Danny Boyle's sci-fi thriller Sunshine also starring Chris Evans and Rose Byrne; the action thriller Speed Racer alongside Susan Sarandon and Emile Hirsch; Brett Ratner's Rush Hour 3; Chen Kaige's The Promise, a Chinese epic fantasy romance; and the terrifying Ringu films.
On television, Sanada did an arc on the first season of the ABC series, Revenge, where he played Kiyoshi Takeda, Emily's (Emily Van Camp) mentor and spiritual advisor who offers her the manual to life and the cautions that come with it. He also starred in multiple episodes of the hit series and award winning show, Lost, where he played the role of Dogen in the final season. Beyond television, Sanada became one of the few foreign actors to tour with the Royal Shakespeare Company, in a production of King Lear with Nigel Hawthorne.
Sanada has a Black belt in karate, is trained in Japanese traditional dance and Japanese Swordplay "Tate" and he currently resides in Los Angeles.
Sam Reid. Born and raised in Australia, Sam trained in New York before joining the 3 year course at London's prestigious drama school LAMDA. He left early to film Roland Emmerich's Anonymous and went on to appear in Kevin Costner and Kevin Reynold's award-winning drama Hatfield & Mccoys.
Sam has 5 films coming out in 2014 - The Railway Man, Susanne Bier's Serena, Yann Demanges' 71, Belle in which he plays the lead role opposite Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson and Lone Scherfig's Posh.
Tanroh Ishida is a London based Japanese actor. He started training in Japanese Traditional Noh/Kyogen Theatre at the age of three. His father and his father's master were his own masters in Japan, during this period. With his theatre company he performed at a number of theatres nationally and internationally; including the Carnegie Hall and Shakespeare's Globe.
At the age of 15 Tanroh became interested in learning about the western style of theatre.?He moved to England to study and audition for drama schools. He was accepted at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama. After graduating from Guildhall, Tanroh formed his own theatre company to explore his rare experiences as an actor, having had the unique privilege of classical training in both the East and West.
This "Tea Leaf Theatre" company is based on his life time ambition of marrying Japanese and Western theatre and has received critical acclaim, including 5 star reviews at the Edinburgh festival.
His recent film credits include the role of Akihira Kontaro and the Coen brothers film Gambit with Cameron Diaz and Colin Firth. He'll also soon be appearing in the film 47 Ronin alongside Keanu Reeves and his Railway Man partner, Hiroyuki Sanada. That film is set for release in December 2013.
Tanroh's other recent work includes; regular appearances with London's most exciting new improvisation company, the Improsarios: www.theimprosarios.com and he is also the voice of the hit computer game Shogun 2.