Oh no 🙁
Ken Watanabe, the Japanese actor who is known for his performances in “The Last Samurai”, “Memoirs of a Geisha”, and Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” and “Inception”, is battling stomach cancer. The 56-year-old star confirmed the news via his Japanese Twitter account.
Ken said that the early-stage cancer was found in a medical checkup. His publicist confirmed the illness and revealed that the actor has since underwent endoscopic surgery and is currently recuperating. As such, Ken will have to postpone plans to return to Broadway’s “The King and I”.
“I was really shocked, my wife and daughter pushed me to have a health check and the cancer was found. It was a very early stage and they operated immediately,” he said.
But Ken promised that he’d be back. “I hate to worry you, but please wait,” he tweeted in Japanese.
He also said that he was grateful to his wife, actress Kaho Minami, for having recommended a checkup, and to his daughter, also an actress, for recommending a doctor.
This is not the first time that he’s battling cancer. Ken had acute myeloid leukemia about 20 years ago and a relapse but he has continued working regularly since.
Ken is one of the only Japanese actors who has made it on the international stage. His role of a rebel samurai in the Tom Cruise-led film, “The Last Samurai”, earned him an Academy Award nomination for “Best Supporting Actor”. More recently, he received his first Tony nomination for “Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical” at the 69th Tony Awards for his role as The King in “The King and I”. He is the first Japanese actor to be nominated in this category
Before his arrival in Hollywood, he acted in a range of Japanese films including the award-winning “The Sea and Poison” (1986), which focused on the serious topic of biological experiments the Japanese carried out on American prisoners of war.
English-speaking audiences would remember him best for his tragic hero characters but he also took part in more light-hearted works, such as Juzo Itami’s “Tampopo,” a deliciously colourful film about a noodle restaurant, and Japanese samurai films and TV shows as well.
Here’s to wishing him a super speedy recovery. Get well soon, Ken!