Both of Ken Watanabe's parents were teachers: his mother taught general education and his dad taught calligraphy. He became interested in acting at the age of 24 when a director of England's National Theatre Company, where he was studying, told him that acting was his special gift. Ken is mostly known in Japan for playing samurais. He incorporates the samurai's values in his daily life by not amassing too many material possessions and by living his life with honor, pride and discipline. The Last Samurai (2003), the film that introduced him to Western audiences, was his fourth film released in 2003, and he has also starred in roles as a gangster, a businessmen and a general. Ken is currently separated from his wife and has two children, a daughter who is working as a model and one son.IMDb Mini Biography By: A. Nonymous
Ken Watanabe was born on October 21, 1959 in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. In 1978, he moved to Tokyo to pursue his career as an actor. He drew the attention of the critics when Yukio Ninagawa, a famous Japanese director, chose him for the lead role in one of his plays even though Ken was still an acting student. He made his first TV appearance in 1982 but his real career breakthrough came when he was chosen to play the lead in the Japanese national TV drama series called "Dokugan ryu Masamune"; he played a samurai leader hero, that made him a household name in Japan. In 1989, when he was shooting a movie in Canada, he collapsed because of Leukemia. He made a miraculous comeback and, in 2003, The Last Samurai (2003), where he co-starred with Tom Cruise, pushed him to a center stage of Hollywood. "The Last Samurai" is his 15th movie. He is a fanatic fan of Hanshin Tigers (Japanese professional baseball team) and Kobe Steel rugby team. He loves noodles.IMDb Mini Biography By: Junko Foley
|Kaho Minami||(3 December 2005 - present)|
|Yumiko Watanabe||(? - April 2005) (divorced) 2 children|
Already extremely tall by Japanese standards, he gained a good amount of weight (about 20 pounds) to be an even more imposing presence for his role as "Katsumoto" in The Last Samurai (2003).
One of eight actors of Asian descent nominated for an Academy Award in an acting category. The others are Miyoshi Umeki who won Best Supporting Actress for Sayonara (1957), Sessue Hayakawa nominated for The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Mako nominated for The Sand Pebbles (1966), Ben Kingsley who won Best Actor for Gandhi (1982), Haing S. Ngor who won Best Supporting Actor for The Killing Fields (1984), Pat Morita nominated for The Karate Kid (1984), and Rinko Kikuchi nominated for Babel (2006).
Was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 1989. Since then he had fallen ill only once in 1994, but is now a fully recovered actor.
I'm not a big star in Japan. I'm an actor. I have a very normal life. Four days a week, I cook at home. A star doesn't do that.
(April 2004) Filming Batman Begins (2005).
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