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KEN WATANABE (Saito) was already an honored actor in his native Japan when he gained worldwide recognition for his role in Edward Zwick's 2003 epic "The Last Samurai,” opposite Tom Cruise. Watanabe received Academy Award®, Screen Actors Guild Award®, Critics' Choice Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for his performance as the warrior Katsumoto in the film, which also marked his American movie debut.

Watanabe first collaborated with director Christopher Nolan as a member of the ensemble cast of the 2005 blockbuster "Batman Begins,” with Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy and Michael Caine. That same year, he starred in "Memoirs of a Geisha,” Rob Marshall's lush screen adaptation of Arthur Golden's best-selling novel. In 2006, he portrayed the courageous Japanese General Tadamichi Kuribayashi in Clint Eastwood's award-winning World War II drama "Letters from Iwo Jima.”

In addition, Watanabe starred in and executive produced the 2006 Japanese film "Memories of Tomorrow,” for which he won a number of Best Actor awards, including the Japanese Academy Award and the Hochi Film Award. In 2009, he starred in the award-winning feature "Shizumano Taiyô” ("The Unbroken”) for which he won his second Japanese Academy Award, as well as the Hochi Film Award for Best Actor. Watanabe next co-stars with John Cusack and Gong Li in Mikael Hafstrom's drama "Shanghai,” which is due out later this year.

Watanabe began his acting career with the Tokyo-based theater company En. His lead performance in the company's production of "Shimoya Mannen-cho Monogatari,” directed by Yukio Ninawara, caught the attention of both critics and Japanese audiences. He also starred in the 1985 international comedy hit "Tampopo,” directed by Juzo Itami.

He made his television debut with "Michinaru Hanran” in 1982. Subsequently, his formidable screen presence in the Samurai drama series "Dokuganryu Masamume” led to additional roles in the historical series "Oda Nobunaga” and "Chushingura,” and the film "Bakumatsu Junjou Den.” His other film credits include "Ikebukuro West Gate Park,” "Space Travelers,” "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant” and "Oboreru Sakana ("Drowning Fish”). In 2003, Watanabe appeared in "Shin Jinginaki Tatakai/Bosatsu” ("Fight Without Loyalty/Murder”), an updated version of the popular Yakuza movie series.


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