Ken Watanabe (1959- ) is a Japanese actor. Already an accomplished actor in Japan, he skyrocketed to international stardom as a result of his well-received performance as samurai warlord "Katsumoto" (loosely based on Saigo Takamori) in the Hollywood epic film Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise.
After this breakthrough, Watanabe became the go-to choice, and essentially the only viable option in the eyes of big studios, for any film with a part for a Japanese male (or even an Asian male). This lead to a bevy of roles for Watanabe in big-budget Hollywood films, including Memoirs of a Geisha, Letters from Iwo Jima, Batman Begins, and Inception.
Watanabe has a moderately famous daughter, Anne Watanabe (1986-), who is an actress and fashion model.