KEN WATANABE (Ra's al Ghul) gained worldwide prominence when he was nominated for an Academy Award in 2004 for his sensational performance as Katsumoto, the warrior and last leader of the Samurai, in Warner Bros. Pictures' epic film The Last Samurai. Playing opposite Tom Cruise in his Hollywood debut, Watanabe also garnered a nomination for Best Supporting Actor by the Screen Actors Guild and a Golden Globe Award by the Hollywood Foreign Press.
Watanabe follows The Last Samurai with another distinguished film based on the internationally acclaimed novel by Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha is a sweeping romantic epic set in a mysterious exotic world which still casts a potent spell today. The film tells the story of the legendary geisha Sayuri who is haunted by her secret love for the one man who is out of her reach, played by Watanabe. Memoirs of a Geisha is directed by Academy Award nominee Rob Marshall (Chicago) and produced by Lucy Fisher, Douglas Wick and Steven Spielberg, from a screenplay by Ron Bass and Akiva Goldsman and Robin Swicord and Doug Wright. The film is scheduled for a holiday 2005 release.
Watanabe began his career onstage with the Tokyo based theater troupe, Madoka. While working with Madoka, Watanabe was selected to portray the lead role in the play Shimodani Mannen-cho Monogatari, directed by Yukio Nigawara. This powerful performance caught the attention of critics and the Japanese public alike. In 1982, Watanabe made his television debut in Michinaru Hanran (Unknown Rebellion). Several years later, his formidable onscreen presence in NHK's successful Samurai drama series Dokuganryu Masamume led to additional roles in historical shows, such as Oda Nobunaga, Chushingura and the film Bakumatsu Junjyo Den.
Other credits include Ikebukuro West Gate Park, Anata ga Hoshii (I Want You), Space Travelers, Oboreru Sakana (Drowning Fish) and The Sun Rises Again. In February 2003, Watanabe was seen in Shin Jinginaki Tatakai/Bosatsu (Fight Without Loyalty/Murder), an updated version of the popular Yakuza movie series. He can next be seen in the upcoming Japanese film T.R.Y.
Watanabe resides in Japan.
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