Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

Ken Watanabe Biography

Birth Name:
Kensaku Watanabe
Birth Place:
Koide, Niigata, Japan

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


  • 2004Golden Globe-Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: nominated
  • 2004Critics' Choice Awards-Best Supporting Actor: nominated
  • 2003Screen Actors Guild Awards-Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role: nominated
  • 2003Oscar-Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: nominated


  • An Watanabe -- Daughter
  • Anne Watanabe -- Daughter
  • Kaho Minami -- Ex-wife
  • Yumiko Watanabe -- Ex-wife
  • Dai Watanabe -- Son
  • Shin Shinitiro -- Son