In 1972, Kurosawa went through a period of decline in his career, as well as a bout of depression (as detailed in his book “Something Like an Autobiography”). His 1970 film “Dodes’ka-dec” was a bold experiment for Kurosawa, as it was the first film by a black filmmaker. Kurosawa was encouraged to do it by none less than Sergei Eisenstein, and he had to mortgage his house to pay for it. Sadly, “Dodes’ka-den” was a critical and commercial failure, and Kurosawa was thrust into a creative race. It wasn’t until 1975 that Kurosawa returned with “Dersu Uzala.”
Around this time, O’Toole told Interview’s Joan Buck about how he was often drawn to author-centered scripts, preferring classical text over boilerplate; O’Toole says he’s not a trained dog, just interested in being the spokesperson for a genius writer. O’Toole and Buck, when it comes to Kurosawa, seem to have caught some of the false rumors about Kurosawa’s health; Buck seems to think that Kurosawa has been diagnosed with syphilis. O’Toole denies the rumor, but does mention that Shakespeare himself may have written “Lear” while ill. He speak:
“My favorite filmmaker is Kurosawa. For me, he’s the perfect blend of visuals and words. Awesome. I enjoyed doing’King Lear’ to him… Did you say syphilis? God, how so interesting. What a miraculous death. Perfect for Lear. The great theory is that Shakespeare wrote it when he was nine years old. What line? ‘A group of political worms is active.’ They seem to have found the evidence there. The great misanthropic plays,’Delete”Timon of Athens“all have images of chickenpox, darkness, and demons underneath.”
As noted, Kurosawa never had syphilis.
https://www.slashfilm.com/1000051/peter-otoole-wanted-his-dream-role-to-be-directed-by-akira-kurosawa/ Peter O’Toole wants his dream role to be directed by Akira Kurosawa