Ken Watanabe

Ken Watanabe

Oct. 21st, 1959
Born in
Uonuma, Japan
185 cm

Ken Watanabe's Main TV Roles

[no roles found]

Main Movie Roles

Guest TV Roles

[none found]


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, an 18-year-old daughter who is working as a model and one son who is 20 years old.

  • 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.
  • Children: son, actor 'Dai Watanabe (I)' (qv) (born August 1st 1984) and daughter, An 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."
  • One of eight actors of Asian descent nominated for an Academy Award in an acting category. The others are 'Miyoshi Umeki' (qv) who won Best Supporting Actress for _Sayonara (1957)_ (qv), 'Sessue Hayakawa' (qv) nominated for _The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)_ (qv), 'Mako (I)' (qv) nominated for _The Sand Pebbles (1966)_ (qv), 'Ben Kingsley' (qv) who won Best Actor for _Gandhi (1982)_ (qv), 'Haing S. Ngor' (qv) who won Best Supporting Actor for _The Killing Fields (1984)_ (qv), 'Pat Morita' (qv) nominated for _The Karate Kid (1984)_ (qv), and 'Rinko Kikuchi' (qv) nominated for _Babel (2006)_ (qv).

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