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


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.

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