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THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT

KEN WATANABE (Mr. Tall) is currently filming Warner Bros.' Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan, a contemporary sci-fi thriller set within the architecture of the mind, also starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard and Cillian Murphy. Following Batman Begins, Inception marks Watanabe's second collaboration with Nolan.

On October 24, Watanabe will star in the Japanese release Shizumanu Taiyô (aka Unsetting Sun), a true story about Japan Airlines'workers union. Next year, Watanabe co-stars with John Cusack, Chow Yun-Fat and Gong Li in Mikael Håfström's Shanghai. The Weinstein Company drama follows an American expat who returns to a corrupt, Japanese-occupied Shanghai four months prior to Pearl Harbor.

Watanabe most recently starred as the heroic and resourceful General Tadamichi Kuribayashi in Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima (the National Board of Review's Best Film of 2006). He also executive produced and starred in the 2006 independent Japanese hit Memories of Tomorrow, which grossed more than $23 million worldwide. His portrayal of a successful advertising executive who contracts Alzheimer's disease received wide critical acclaim.

Watanabe gained worldwide recognition and a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award® nomination in 2004 for his portrayal of the warrior Katsumoto in Edward Zwick's epic The Last Samurai, opposite Tom Cruise. Watanabe also received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for his Hollywood film debut.

Watanabe's credits also include Memoirs of a Geisha, directed by Rob Marshall, and the aforementioned Batman Begins, in which he played the immortal criminal genius Ra's al Ghul.

Watanabe began his career with the Tokyo-based theater troupe EN. His lead performance in the company's production of Shimoya Mannen-cho Mongatari, directed by Yukio Ninagawa, caught the attention of critics and the Japanese public alike. He also starred in the international comedy hit Tampopo, directed by Juzo Itami.

In 1982, Watanabe made his television debut with Michinaru Hanran (aka Unknown Rebellion). His formidable screen presence in the Samurai drama series Dokugan-ryu Masamune led to additional roles in the historical series Oda Nobunaga and Chushingura and in the film Bakumatsu Jyunjyoden. His other credits include Ikebukuro West Gate Park, Space Travelers and Oboreru Sakana (aka Drowning Fish). In February 2003, Watanabe appeared in Shin Jingi Naki Tatakai: Bosatsu (aka Fight Without Loyalty: Murder), an updated version of the popular Yakuza movie series.

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