26 Facts About Ken Watanabe


Ken Watanabe is known for his roles in Christopher Nolan's films Batman Begins and Inception, as well as Memoirs of a Geisha, and Pokemon Detective Pikachu.


Ken Watanabe lent his voice to the fourth and fifth installments of the Transformers franchise respectively, Transformers: Age of Extinction and Transformers: The Last Knight, as Decepticon-turned-Autobot Drift.


Ken Watanabe made his Broadway debut in April 2015 in Lincoln Center Theater's revival production of The King and I in the title role.


In 2015, Watanabe received his first Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical at the 69th Tony Awards for his role as The King.


Ken Watanabe is the first Japanese actor to be nominated in this category.


Ken Watanabe reprised his role at the London Palladium in June 2018.


Ken Watanabe was born on October 21,1959 in the mountain village of Koide in Niigata Prefecture, Japan.

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Ken Watanabe's mother was a school teacher and his father taught calligraphy.


Ken Watanabe attended Niigata Prefectural Koide High School, where he was a member of the concert band club, playing trumpet, which he had played since childhood.


Ken Watanabe made his feature-film debut in 1984 with MacArthur's Children.


Ken Watanabe is mostly known in Japan for playing samurai, as in the 1987 Dokuganryu Masamune the 50-episode NHK taiga drama.


Ken Watanabe played the lead character, Matsudaira Kuro, in the television jidaigeki Gokenin Zankuro, which ran for several seasons.


Ken Watanabe has gone on to garner 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, Ken Watanabe was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia.


Ken Watanabe returned to acting while simultaneously undergoing chemotherapy treatments, but in 1991 suffered a relapse.


Ken Watanabe co-starred with Koji Yakusho in the 1998 Kizuna, for which he was nominated for the Japanese Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.


Ken Watanabe was introduced to most Western audiences in the 2003 American film The Last Samurai, set in 19th Century Japan.


Ken Watanabe appeared in the 2005 film Memoirs of a Geisha, playing Chairman Iwamura.


Ken Watanabe has voiced Ra's al Ghul in the Batman Begins video game.


Ken Watanabe has filmed advertisements for American Express, Yakult, Canon and NTT DoCoMo.


Ken Watanabe is set to star in the upcoming remake, taking place in present-day Tokyo just before the opening of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


Ken Watanabe met his second wife, Kaho Minami, when they were both acting in a suspense drama for TV Tokyo.


Ken Watanabe formally adopted Minami's son from her previous marriage to director Jinsei Tsuji, and for a time the three of them lived in Los Angeles.


On May 17,2018, Kaho Minami's agency announced that Minami and Ken Watanabe had divorced after he had admitted to having an extramarital affair.


In 2016, while on a break from performing in a Broadway production of The King and I, Ken Watanabe was diagnosed with stomach cancer.

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Ken Watanabe subsequently announced on February 9,2016, that he would postpone scheduled performances in order to undergo the necessary treatment.