Shōgun Finally Gave Cosmo Jarvis the Role He Deserves

Cosmo Jarvis was virtually unknown to audiences prior to his casting in the miniseries Shōgun, in which Jarvis plays John Blackthorne, an English sailor who unexpectedly lands on the shores of feudal Japan in 1600. However, Jarvis’s newness has enabled Shōgun, which is based on James Clavell’s epic 1975 novel of the same name, to take a much broader view of its story than would have been possible if an established star had been cast in the role of Blackthorne.

In contrast, Richard Chamberlain, the first and last actor to portray Blackthorne, was an established and immediately recognizable television star prior to being cast as Blackthorne in the 1980 Shōgun miniseries, which is presented almost entirely through Blackthorne’s perspective. Jarvis’s casting as Blackthorne is emblematic of how the new Shōgun miniseries is more a reinvention of the source material than a strict adaptation. This is most evident in terms of how the new miniseries shifts the focus away from Blackthorne’s perspective in favor of fully defining the show’s Japanese characters.

Regardless, Shōgun has revealed Jarvis to be a force to reckon with through his compelling, magnetic performance, in which Jarvis deftly reveals the various aspects of a man who finds himself stranded between two very different worlds.

Cosmo Jarvis's John Blackthorne Isn't a White Savior


Shogun (2024)





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Release Date

February 27, 2024


Hiroyuki Sanada , Cosmo Jarvis , Tadanobu Asano , Anna Sawai



Read our review

One of the most crucial and interesting aspects of the new Shōgun miniseries is that while English sailor John Blackthorne initially appears to be the stark opposite of his Japanese captors, Blackthorne and his Japanese captors have much more in common than either side thought possible upon Blackthorne’s unplanned arrival.

Indeed, upon arriving in Japan, Blackthorne recognizes the same dynastic struggles that existed in Blackthorne’s native England. Moreover, as Blackthorne’s relationships with his primary captors, the all-powerful Lord Toranaga and female samurai Mariko, deepen throughout the miniseries. This unconventional dynamic raises the fascinating question of whether Blackthorne will become more like the Japanese or vice versa.

While the 1980 Shōgun miniseries presents Blackthorne as a heroic figure and focuses primarily on Blackthorne’s struggle to navigate a complex foreign environment, Blackthorne is more of a catalyst figure in the new Shōgun miniseries, which primarily revolves around the improbable alliance that develops between Blackthorne and Toranaga, who faces serious challenges from his fellow lords in Toranaga’s quest to become the next ruler of Japan.

Through his relationship with Toranaga, Blackthorne becomes acquainted with Mariko, a societal outcast who is initially assigned by Toranaga to be Blackthorne’s translator but eventually becomes Blackthorne’s lover. With these intricately interwoven character relationships and the reinvention of Blackthorne as a calculating, perceptive outsider instead of a standard hero, the new Shōgun miniseries both distinguishes itself from its source material and gains the appearance and feel of being a wholly original work.

Jarvis Has Been Compared To Tom Hardy



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While Cosmo Jarvis has received excellent reviews for his performance as John Blackthorne in Shōgun, Jarvis’s performance has also inspired comparisons between Jarvis and fellow British actor Tom Hardy, who is approximately 12 years older than Jarvis. In reviewing Jarvis’s performance in Shōgun, several critics have described Jarvis as having channeled his inner Tom Hardy within the miniseries.

Hardy and Jarvis, who are similar in terms of build and height and manner, both appear in the fifth season of the British period crime drama television series Peaky Blinders, in which Jarvis plays the role of Barney Thomason, who forged a friendship with Cillian Murphy’s Thomas Shelby from their shared horrific experience during the First World War.

Barney becomes interconnected with Hardy’s character, Alfie, amid the planning for the attempted assassination of corrupt politician Oswald Mosley. As Alfie listens to Mosley deliver a speech at a hall rally on the radio, Barney, who was a master wartime sniper, attempts to snipe Mosley. However, just before Barney unleashes the killing shot, Barney is killed by a silencer at close range.

While there is certainly a striking resemblance between Hardy’s bearded Alfie and Jarvis’s similarly brawny and foppish Blackthorne, Jarvis is most similar to Hardy in terms of Jarvis’s compelling screen presence and probing stare. What remains to be seen is whether Jarvis can consistently project the same level of emotional complexity and energy that has turned Hardy into one of the most captivating and exciting actors of his generation.

Shōgun Made Jarvis a James Bond Contender



Shortly after the debut of Shōgun, Cosmo Jarvis was listed as being a firm contender to replace Daniel Craig in the role of James Bond by British bookmakers, who gave Jarvis 10-to-one odds to be cast as the next James Bond. Jarvis was added to the list of Bond contenders by the bookmakers ostensibly because the 34-year-old Jarvis seems to be the perfect age to play Bond and has clearly demonstrated in Shōgun the ability to combine action and physicality with wit.

Following the debut of Shōgun, the odds for Jarvis to be cast as Bond fell to seven-to-one, which put Jarvis ahead of Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, and Callum Turner but still behind longtime favorite Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Regardless of whether the producers of the James Bond film series seriously considered casting Jarvis as Bond, Jarvis is poised to gain film stardom with his starring role opposite Robert De Niro in the upcoming Barry Levinson-directed period gangster film Alto Knights.

In Alto Knights, which covers the deadly rivalry between Italian-American crime bosses Frank Costello and Vito Genovese, Jarvis plays real-life mobster Vincent “The Chin” Gigante, who was the boss of the Genovese crime family from 1981 until 2005, when Gigante, who was once known as the most powerful crime boss in the United States, died in prison at the age of 77. Stream on Hulu.

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