Photo of Ken Watanabe Ken Watanabe

Born Oct. 21, 1959, in Niigata Prefecture, Japan, Ken Watanabe began a life in the theatre while he was still an acting student.

His first television appearance came in 1982 and was followed in 1985 by a small role in the hit crossover film Tampopo. But it was Watanabe's role as samurai leader Date Masamune in the TV series "Dokugan-ryu Masamune" (1987) that earned him a huge following in Japan.

After surviving a bout of leukemia, Watanabe slowly worked his way back into acting, an endeavor that culminated in an Oscar-nominated performance in The Last Samurai (2003) opposite Tom Cruise. He followed his first American triumph with a role as a villain in Batman Begins (2005).

Ken Watanabe in Inception

Inception

2010 PG-13

In this mindbending sci-fi thriller, Dom Cobb runs an espionage business built around entering the subconscious of his targets to steal their thoughts. A new, complex job promises great rewards, but Cobb's personal demons threaten the operation.

  • Ken Watanabe in Batman Begins Batman Begins
  • Ken Watanabe in Godzilla Godzilla
  • Ken Watanabe in The Sea of Trees The Sea of Trees
  • Ken Watanabe in Letters from Iwo Jima Letters from Iwo Jima
  • Ken Watanabe in Tampopo Tampopo
  • Ken Watanabe in Memoirs of a Geisha Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Ken Watanabe in The Last Samurai The Last Samurai
  • Ken Watanabe in Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
  • Ken Watanabe in Shanghai Shanghai
  • Ken Watanabe in Baian the Assassin: Vol. 2 Baian the Assassin: Vol. 2