Ken Watanabe

Ken Watanabe

Infobox actor
name = Ken Watanabe (渡辺 謙)

imagesize =
caption = Ken Watanabe in 2007
birthname = Kensaku Watanabe
birthdate = birth date and age|1959|10|21
location = Koide, Niigata, Japan
yearsactive = 1984 - present
spouse = Yumiko Watanabe (div.2005)
Kaho Minami (2005-)
children = Dai Watanabe (b.1984)
An Watanave (b.1986)

nihongo|Ken Watanabe|渡辺 謙|Watanabe Ken|extra=born October 21 1959 is an Academy Award-nominated Japanese stage, film, and television actor. To English-speaking audiences he is known for playing tragic hero characters, such as General Tadamichi Kuribayashi in "Letters from Iwo Jima" and Lord Katsumoto in "The Last Samurai".


Born Ken Watanabe in Koide, Niigata prefecture, his mother was a school teacher and his father taught calligraphy.

Japanese roles

After graduating from high school in 1978, Watanabe moved to Tokyo to begin his acting career, getting his big break with the Tokyo-based theater troupe En. While with the troupe, he was cast as the hero in the play "Shimodani Mannencho Monogatari", under Yukio Ninagawa's direction. The role attracted critical and popular notice.

In 1982, he made his first TV appearance in "Michinaru Hanran" ("Unknown Rebellion"), and his first appearance on TV as a samurai in "Mibu no koiuta". He made his feature-film debut in 1984 with "MacArthur's Children".

Watanabe is mostly known in Japan for playing samurai, as in the 1987 "Dokuganryu Masamune" ("One eyed dragon, Masamune") the 50-episode NHK drama for which he is now best known. He played the lead character, Matsudaira Kurō, in the television jidaigeki "Gokenin Zankurō", which ran for several seasons. He has gone on to earn acclaim in such historical dramas as "Oda Nobunaga", "Chushingura", and the movie "Bakumatsu Junjo Den".

In 1989, while filming Haruki Kadokawa's "Heaven and Earth", Watanabe was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. He returned to acting while simultaneously undergoing chemotherapy treatments, but in 1991 suffered a relapse.

As his health improved his career picked back up. He co-starred with Koji Yakusho in the 1998 "Kizuna", for which he was nominated for the Japanese Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

In 2002, he quit the En (Engeki-Shudan En) theater group where he had his start and joined the K-Dash agency. The film "Sennen no Koi" ("Thousand-year Love", based on "The Tale of Genji") earned him another Japanese Academy Award nomination.

In 2006, he finally won Best Lead Actor at the Japanese Academy Awards for his role in "Memories of tomorrow (Ashita no Kioku)", where he played a patient with Alzheimer's Disease.

American films

Watanabe was introduced to most Western audiences with the 2003 film "The Last Samurai" for which his performance as Katsumoto earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Watanabe also appeared in the 2005 films "Batman Begins" as Ra's Al Ghul and "Memoirs of a Geisha", where he played The Chairman. In 2006, he starred in Clint Eastwood's film "Letters from Iwo Jima". He has also filmed adverts for American Express and Yakult, and in 2004, he was featured in "People Magazine"'s "50 Most Beautiful People" edition.

Personal life

Ken is divorced from his ex-wife, Yumiko, with whom he has two children: Anne, a model, and Dai, an actor. On December 3 2005, he married actress Kaho Minami.Fact|date=September 2008

In 2006, Watanabe revealed in his newly-published autobiography "Dare? - Who Am I?" that he has Hepatitis C virus [ [ Hepatitis C and HIV - The Body ] ] . At a PR event held on May 23, 2006 in Tokyo's Ginza district, he said he was in good condition, but was still undergoing treatment. [ [ Japan Entertainment News Archives for May 2006 ] ]



* "Britannicus henso" (1980)
* "Shitaya mannencho monogatari" (1981)
* "Fuyu no raion (The Lion in Winter)" (1981)
* "Pajaze" (1981)
* "Platonof" (1982)
* "Kafun netsu" (1982)
* "Pizarro" (1985)
* "Hamlet" (1988)
* "Hamlet no gakuya -anten" (2000)
* "Towa part1-kanojo" (2000)
* "Towa part2-kanojo to kare" (2001)

Awards and nominations


External links

*imdb name | id=0913822 | name=Ken Watanabe
* [ USA Today Interview]
* [ Interview]
* [ Watanabe Ken's JMDb Listing (in Japanese)]
* [ Ken Watanabe profile on "Hoga Central"]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Ken Watanabe — (2007) Ken Watanabe (jap.: 渡辺謙 Watanabe Ken; * 21. Oktober 1959 in Koide, Landkreis Kitauonuma (heute: Uonuma), Präfektur Niigata) ist ein japanischer Schauspieler. In Japan als Darsteller in Komödien, Dramen und Actionfi …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Watanabe — (渡辺 cross border ) is the fifth most common Japanese surname.The first to be named Watanabe were kuge (court nobles), direct descendants of the Emperor Saga (786 842).The most famous member of the family historically is the samurai Watanabe no… …   Wikipedia

  • Watanabe — ist der fünfthäufigste Familienname in Japan. Folgende Persönlichkeiten tragen ihn: Emi Watanabe (* 1959), japanische Eiskunstläuferin Hidemaro Watanabe (1924–2011), japanischer Fußballnationalspieler Hinata Watanabe (* 1986), japanischer… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Watanabe — (渡辺, Watanabe?) es el quinto apellido japonés más común.[1] Contenido …   Wikipedia Español

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