Where are the Portuguese actores in Shogun?


First Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as a Portuguese priests in Scorcese’s Silence, now more british actors as Portuguese in Shogun?! Where the hell are all the Portuguese speaking actors in Hollywood?


Welcome to another episode of “A Shitty Diary of a Wannabe Cinephile.” I need to get a proper intro, but until then, here we are. This week, I’ve been traveling a lot, so I haven’t had much time to watch anything. But now I’m back and almost finished with a series—I think it’s on Hulu, or maybe Star Plus. It’s called “Shogun,” which I believe is closer to the Japanese title. I’ll do a proper review once I finish it, but I have a quick question for this episode.

When will it become unacceptable for characters to speak English while supposedly speaking foreign languages? For example, this series is quite interesting, and I’ll review it properly later. But something that really annoys me is how, in the first episodes, they try to make it clear that everyone is speaking Portuguese and Japanese, as those were the languages spoken in Japan at the time. Yet, there are no Portuguese actors. After they establish that everyone speaks Portuguese, they just switch to English.

This is particularly frustrating because there are amazing actors who speak Portuguese. You could easily find a British actor who can speak both Portuguese and English if the main character needs a British accent. At least for the Catholic Portuguese priests, you can find Portuguese actors. Why use actors with foreign English accents instead?

This issue also bothered me in Martin Scorsese’s “Silence.” The Portuguese Catholic priests in Japan spoke American English—Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield do not look Portuguese at all. I understand that using subtitles for the Japanese parts might be hard for some audiences, but why not use great Portuguese or Brazilian actors who could do a better job with the accent?

It’s not like the roles for the priests require impossible acting skills. You can find Japanese actors who speak Portuguese as well. Brazil, which has a significant Portuguese-speaking population, would also have actors who could manage both languages.

Why not give new actors a chance to shine and bring some authenticity to the roles? Cinema and series are about imagination, but there’s no need to break the fourth wall if you make the mechanisms clear from the start. The series establishes that they’re supposedly speaking Portuguese, but then they switch to English for the audience. This requires an extra step in suspending disbelief, especially for those who understand Portuguese.

By the end of the series, this issue didn’t bother me as much, but it was quite annoying in the first two episodes. I would have loved to see proper historical accuracy in the language used, at least once. Why not do it for the sake of authenticity?

For the main character, you can find actors who speak both English and Portuguese, like Wagner Moura or Rodrigo Santoro. There are also many Portuguese stars who could do an amazing job. Even if you need a British actor, you can find someone who can manage a few lines in Portuguese.

This has been bothering me since Scorsese’s “Silence,” with British and American actors playing Portuguese priests. Great actors, but not right for those roles. Does this bother you too? My brother, for example, wasn’t bothered at all. Maybe it’s just me wanting more Portuguese-speaking representation in films.

With “Parasite” winning the Oscars, perhaps we’re making progress in educating American audiences to read subtitles. Welcome to the rest of the world, where we’ve been doing this for a long time. It allows for better historical representation and showcases the period more accurately.

Does this issue bother you? You can let me know on my website, mateuszikida.com, or leave a review on Spotify or iTunes. A good review would help, but any feedback is welcome.

I’m about to finish “Shogun” and will share my thoughts on it. Also, “The Sympathizer” is on my list—let’s see where that takes me. Until next time!

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