Ken Watanabe  Ken Watanabe (渡辺謙)
  Date of birth:
  October 21st, 1959
  Koide, Niigata, Japan
Acting Filmography


Best known for his role as Saito in Christopher Nolan's Inception and Katsumoto Moritsugu in the US production The Last Samurai, for which he got an Academy Award nomination for, Ken Watanabe has risen to be one of Japan's most prolific actors both in and outside the country.

Although Watanabe originally intended to be a musician, having his eye set on attending the Musashino Academia Musicae, financial troubles from his father prompted a cheaper route. So, fresh out of high school in 1978, Watanabe began an acting career by joining the Tokyo-based theater troupe En. After several years of performing, the actor transitioned into TV work, starting with the show Unknown Rebellion in 1982, before beginning a movie career in 1984 with the film MacArthur's Children. The next year he starred in Juzo Itami's landmark production Tampopo (1985), granting the actor some international fame as the movie enjoyed critical success in the US.

Unfortunately, a few years later in 1989, Watanabe suffered a major setback to his career when he contracted acute myelogenous leukemia. The actor tried to return to film in the early 1990's, while having ongoing therapy toward recovery, only for the disease to relapse. The illness cost him almost a decade away from his profession, as it wasn't until Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald (1997) that the actor returned to the spotlight, starring in a small role before making a huge comeback the following year in his Japanese Academy Award nominated role as Detective Sako Aiko in Kizuna (1998).

What followed was a career unlike any other in Japan, as the actor made the transition to Hollywood in 2003 for a starring role in The Last Samurai. Although the movie starred several Japanese actors, including Hiroyuki Sanada and Gunhed (1989) director Masato Harada, Watanabe was the one who left an impression as he nabbed an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. This led to a whirlwind career in both Hollywood and Japan, landing roles in US productions such as Batman Begins and Memoirs of a Geisha while also winning an Japanese Academy Award for his work on Toei's Memories of Tomorrow.

While still doing work in Japan, Watanabe has set his sights more firmly on Hollywood productions, appearing in movies like Inception and also the Legendary Pictures films Godzilla (2014) and Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019).

Acting Toho Filmography

Date      Title ROLE Type
1985 Tampopo Gun Distributed
1997 Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald Truck Driver Produced
1998 Kizuna Sako Aiko, Detective Produced
2014 Godzilla Ichiro Serizawa Distributed
2019 Pokémon: Detective Pikachu Hide Yoshida, Lieutenant Produced