Minoru Chiaki, the last survivor among the actors who portrayed the seven samurai in Akira Kurosawa’s renowned 1954 film, died Monday in Tokyo at the age of 82.
Chiaki made his major film debut in 1949 in “Stray Dog,” Kurosawa’s movie about Japan’s post-war reconstruction. It starred “Seven Samurai” lead Toshiro Mifune.
With a slightly cherubic face, Chiaki often found himself sharing the screen with the gruff and heroic Mifune, playing supporting roles in movies such as “Rashomon,” “The Idiot” and “Throne of Blood.”
Chiaki made 11 films with Kurosawa over the years and received his highest billing in the 1958 movie “The Hidden Fortress,” which George Lucas has said was the inspiration for “Star Wars.”
In the past few years, Chiaki made his way to the small screen and played roles in popular television dramas from national public broadcaster NHK.