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Ken Watanabe Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (5) | Personal Quotes (7)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 21 October 1959Uonuma, Japan
Birth NameKensaku Watanabe
Height 6' 0½" (1.84 m)

Mini Bio (2)

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

Spouse (2)

Kaho Minami (3 December 2005 - present)
Yumiko Watanabe (? - 2005) (divorced) (2 children)

Trivia (5)

Children: son, actor Dai Watanabe (born August 1st 1984) and daughter, Anne Watanabe (born 1986).
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.
Filming Batman Begins (2005). [April 2004]

Personal Quotes (7)

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.
I have no sense of myself as a sex symbol at all. But the meaning of sex symbol might be a little different in Japan to elsewhere. The Japanese version seems to come with a stronger emphasis on a sort of grownup or mature male charm. And if that's the case, then I guess I'm happy to hear it.
Each director is different. Clint Eastwood and Chris Nolan are completely different, and I need to adjust to the story and character and the director and just my duty as an actor.
As a Japanese actor, I really want to work with a lot of actors and actresses in the world and many directors who have many different kinds of talents. I feel like nationally doesn't matter at all.
About half the scripts sent to me feature characters I just can't identify with, particularly one-dimensional businessmen or, if it's a comedy, some absurd 10-year-old Japanese stereotype, some role related to IT or business... There's no point in getting mad about it; it's just the way things are.
If the script is good, the cast and director good, I'll go anywhere.
With 'Letters from Iwo Jima,' then 'Memories of Tomorrow,' I reached a sort of turning point in my acting. I had poured so much of myself into those movies that I really had no idea where to go from there.

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