Fast Facts

  • Breakout role in Japan came with the popular 1985 comedy Tompopo (Dandelion).
  • Was diagnosed with leukemia in 1989 but continued to act while undergoing chemotherapy; suffered a relapse in 1994 that kept him in the hospital for more than a year.
  • Made his American film debut in the 2003 epic The Last Samurai.
  • In 2005, began treatment for hepatitis C, contracted while undergoing blood transfusions during his first bout of leukemia.
  • Released an autobiography, Dare? Who Am I?, in 2006 in Japan.
  • Took a leadership role in efforts to assist victims of the 2011 earthquake in Japan.
  • It was announced in 2012 that he would take part in a documentary about Japan's earthquake relief efforts.
  • Active in efforts to battle climate change.


  • 2015, Tony — Actor (Musical): Nominee
  • 2004, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Nominee
  • 2003, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Nominee
  • 2004, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Supporting Actor: Nominee
  • 2003, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Nominee


  • Shin Shinitiro — Son
  • An Watanabe — Daughter
  • Kaho Minami — Wife
  • Yumiko Watanabe — Ex-wife

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  • Birth Name: Kensaku Watanabe
  • Birth Place: Koide, Niigata, Japan
  • Profession: Actor

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