Ken Watanabe - Rotten Tomatoes

Ken Watanabe

Highest Rated:   100% Tampopo (1985)
Lowest Rated:   4% Shanghai (2015)
Birthplace:   Koide (now Uonuma), Niigata prefecture
Despite the fact that veteran Japanese actor Ken Watanabe has been appearing in films since the early '80s (foreign film buffs may remember him from a supporting role in the 1985 art-house "noodle Western" Tampopo), it wasn't until his breakthrough role in the Tom Cruise adventure The Last Samurai that the frequent onscreen samurai eventually came to the attention of stateside audiences. Watanabe has been a mainstay of Japanese cinema beloved by legions of older fans overseas, but his performance as the last in a long line of ancient warriors in The Last Samurai is what finally found the modest actor courting international success. Watanabe was born in Niigata to schoolteacher parents -- his father taught calligraphy and his mother general education. A blissful childhood spent exploring the countryside and skiing with his brother Jun was rounded out by Watanabe's love of the trumpet and his involvement with the school band, and though he studied acting early on, he was hesitant to pursue a career before the cameras. Convinced by a director from England's National Theater Company that he was truly gifted in the art of performing, the then 24-year-old hopeful soon landed his first film role. Initial bliss was followed by harsh uncertainty when Watanabe was diagnosed with leukemia shortly thereafter, but the disease would eventually go into remission and his career would skyrocket. Though Watanabe has portrayed many different types of characters in his long and varied career, it is his skill with a sword that has truly cemented his status as a star in Japan -- he has played more samurai than even he can keep track of. It was this magnetism that attracted the attention of Last Samurai director Edward Zwick, who quickly made the decision to cast him in the popular blockbuster. His impressive performance in the film found him nominated for both a 2003 Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Watanabe's son is an actor and his daughter a model.


Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet Godzilla: King of the Monsters
  • Actor
No Score Yet Pokémon Detective Pikachu
  • Actor
62% Bel Canto
  • Katsumi Hosokawa
89% Isle of Dogs
  • Head Surgeon
No Score Yet The King and I
  • kuningas
No Score Yet Transformers: O último cavaleiro
  • Drift
15% Transformers: The Last Knight
  • Drift
$130.2M 2017
13% The Sea of Trees
  • Takumi Nakamura
$20.6k 2016
4% Shanghai
  • Tanaka
$45.2k 2015
18% Transformers: Age of Extinction
  • Drift
$206.8M 2014
75% Godzilla
  • Dr. Ishiro Serizawa
$173M 2014
No Score Yet Hi Wa Mata Noboru
  • Actor
93% Yurusarezaru mono (Unforgiven)
  • Actor
86% Inception
  • Saito
$292.6M 2010
38% Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
  • Mr. Tall
$13.9M 2009
No Score Yet Hoshi hitotsu no yoru
  • Actor
85% Memories of Tomorrow (Ashita no kioku)
  • Masayuki Saeki
  • Producer
91% Letters from Iwo Jima
  • Gen. Tadamichi Kuribayashi
$13.7M 2006
34% Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Chairman
$57M 2005
84% Batman Begins
  • Ra's Al Ghul
$204.2M 2005
66% The Last Samurai
  • Katsumoto
$111M 2003
No Score Yet Sennen no Koi Genji Monogatari
  • Actor
No Score Yet Space Travelers (Supêsutoraberâzu)
  • Sakamaki
88% Welcome Back Mr. McDonald
  • Truck Driver
No Score Yet Karate Warrior
  • Actor
No Score Yet The Sea and Poison (Umi to dokuyaku)
  • Actor
100% Tampopo
  • Gun
$0.3M 1985
No Score Yet Setouchi shonen yakyu dan (MacArthur's Children)
  • Tetsuo Nakai

Quotes from Ken Watanabe's Characters