Born: Oc. 21, 1959, Koide, Niigata, Japan. Age 51
Years active- 1979-present
Spouse- Yumiko Watanabe(div. 2005)
He is a well known Japanese stage, TV and film actor. In the US, he is known for roles like General Tadamichi Kuribayashi in Letters from Iwo Jima, Lord Katsumoto Moritsugu in The Last Samurai. When it comes to awards, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Japan Academy Prize for Best Actor. He has also starred in Batman Begins and Inception, playing a Japanese businessman named Mr. Saito.
Watanabe was born in Koide, Niigata prefecture. His mother was a school teacher and his father taught calligraphy. He is brother to Yuki Watanabe, he visits his nephew Michael and niece Maia in New York. He has 2 children, one of them, Anne Watanabe is a model.
After graduating high school in 1978, he moved to Tokyo to start his acting career with the Tokyo-based theatre group En. While with the group, he was cast as the hero in the play Shimodani Mannencho Monogatari, under Yukio Ninagawa's rules
In 1982, he made his first TV appearance, Michinaru Hanran (Unknown Rebellion) and his first appearance on TV as a samurai in Mibu no koiuta. His film debut came in 1984 in the movie MacArthur's Children
His main roles in Japan are of playing a Samurai, such as: in 1987 Dokuganryu Masamune, a 50 episode show for Japan-based broadcast network NHK.
In 1989, while filming Haruki Kadokawa's Heaven and Earth, he was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. He continued acting while undergoing chemotherapy treatments, and in 1991 suffered a relapse.
In 2006, he won Best Lead Actor at the Japanese Academy Awards for his role in Memories of Tomorrow, where he played a patient with Alzheimer's Disease.
He was introduced to Western audiences in the 2003 movie The Last Samurai. His role of Katsumoto earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In the 2005 movie Batman Begins, Watanabe plays Ra's Al Ghul and in Memoirs of a Geisha, Chairman Iwamura. In 2006 he starred in the movie Letters from Iwo Jima, playing Tadamichi Kuribayashi. In 2004, he was featured in People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People
In 1989, he was diagnosed with bone marrow leukemia, but later recovered. He revealed in 2006 that he was suffering from hepatitis C but was doing good and undergoing treatment.
-MacArthur's Children- Tetsuo Nakai
9 Deaths of the Ninja- Sensei
-Kekkon Annai Mystery- Funayama Tetsuya/Masakazu Sekine
- The Sea and Poison- Toda
- Tampopo- Gun
-Karate Warrior- Master Kimura
-Karate Warrior 2- Master Kimura
-Violent Zone- Old Mishima
- Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald- Raita Onuki, Truck driver
- Space Travellers- Sakamaki
- Ikebukuro West Gate Park- Insp. Yokoyama
-Genji: A Thousand Year Love- Fujiwara Michinaga/Fujiwara Nobutaka
-The Last Samurai- Katsumoto Moritsugu
-T.R.Y- Masanobu Azuma
- Castle of Sand- Shuchiro Imanishi
- Batman Begins- Ra's Al Ghul's decoy
- Year One in the North- Hideaki Komatsubara
- Memories of Tomorrow- Masayuki Saeki
-The Unbroken- Hajime Onchi
- Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant- Mr. Hibernius Tall