Ken Watanabe Poster


Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trivia (9)  | Personal Quotes (7)

Overview (3)

Born in Uonuma, Japan
Birth NameKensaku Watanabe
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Ken Watanabe was born on October 21, 1959 in Uonuma, Japan. Both of his 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 Theater Company, where he was studying, told him that acting was his special gift. In 1978, he moved to Tokyo to pursue acting. 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. His big 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, making him a household name in Japan. In 1989, he collapsed while filming a movie in Canada due to leukemia. He made a miraculous comeback & co-starred with Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai (2003), which pushed him to the center stage of Hollywood.

Ken has a daughter, model, actress, & singer Anne Watanabe, & a son. He's an avid fan of Hanshin Tigers (Japanese professional baseball team) & Kobe Steel rugby team. He loves noodles.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: A. Nonymous and Junko Foley

Family (3)

Spouse Kaho Minami (3 December 2005 - 17 May 2018)  (divorced)
Yumiko Watanabe (1983 - March 2005)  (divorced)  (2 children)
Children Dai Watanabe
Anne Watanabe
Parents Watanabe, Ryoichi

Trivia (9)

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).
1 of 10 actors of Asian descent nominated for an Academy Award in an acting category.
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.
Owns Ken Watanabe Film Productions. One of the films produced is Harimao (1989), a film with about 3,000 Filipino talents and 200 Japanese, British and American actors.
Diagnosed with stomach cancer on February 9, 2016. He would postpone scheduled performances in order to undergo treatment.
Revealed in his autobiography that he has hepatitis C.
Father-in-law of Masahiro Higashide.
He has five grandchildren.

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 nationality 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 (2006) then Memories of Tomorrow (2006), 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.

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

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