Ken Watanabe battling cancer but promises fans he'll be back

TOKYO -- Ken Watanabe, one of a handful of Japanese actors who has made it on the international stage, underwent surgery for stomach cancer.

See Full Article

But he has beaten serious sickness before, having had leukemia more than 20 years ago.

The early-stage cancer was found in a medical checkup, the Tony- and Oscar-nominated actor said on his Japanese Twitter account. His publicist confirmed the sickness Tuesday, noting the 56-year-old actor will be forced to delay his return to Broadway's "The King and I."

But Watanabe said he'd be back.

"I hate to worry you, but please wait," he tweeted in Japanese.

He had been scheduled to return to the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical from March 1-April 17.

He also said 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.

Craig Bankey, Watanabe's press agent, said Tuesday in New York the actor underwent endoscopic surgery and is recuperating.

Watanabe, who has appeared in Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" and "Inception," also starred in the reboot of "Godzilla" and "Letters From Iwo Jima," directed by Clint Eastwood, and lent his voice to the fourth installment of the Transformers franchise, "Transformers: Age of Extinction."

He earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor in the Tom Cruise-led film "The Last Samurai." "The King and I" was named best musical revival at last year's Tonys and is also nominated for a Grammy for best musical theatre album.

Before his arrival in Hollywood, Watanabe acted in a range of Japanese films, including 1986's "The Sea and Poison," which focused on the serious topic of biological experiments the Japanese carried out on American prisoners of war. The film won an award at the Berlin film festival.

Watanabe took part in more light-hearted works, such as Juzo Itami's "Tampopo," a deliciously colorful film about a noodle restaurant, and Japanese samurai films and TV shows as well.

He had leukemia in the late 1980s and a relapse but has worked regularly since.

Watanabe has long stressed his pride in being part of the legacy of Japanese films -- a legacy he has helped create in a career spanning more than three decades, following predecessors like Toshiro Mifune and Tatsuya Nakadai, who were in Akira Kurosawa films.

In an interview with The Associated Press in 2013, Watanabe said his move into U.S. movies refreshed him, allowing him to relive that same uncertainty and thrill when he started out in the movies in his 20s, he said.

"Actors are always afraid of ending up like overcooked old soup over time. What's risky is that you don't realize this has happened, and you just get thick and boring," said Watanabe.

"Going abroad was like getting a new pot to cook everything again. I was a rookie, a new self. And they were asking me: Who are you?"

AP Drama Writer Mark Kennedy contributed to this report



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Mandy Moore says 'This Is Us' will have a 'bit of a cliffhanger finale'

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Mandy Moore knows the fate of Jack on "This Is Us" but fans will have to wait much longer to find out. "There will be a bit of a cliffhanger finale but you're not going to find out about Jack this season. Source
  • Biggest Loser host Bob Harper 'better' after heart attack

    Entertainment CBC News
    Biggest Loser host Bob Harper says he's "feeling better" and "taking it easy" two weeks after suffering a heart attack. Harper made the statement on Facebook on Monday after news of the Feb. 12 attack became public. Source
  • British songwriter accuses U2 of stealing song for Achtung Baby

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — A British songwriter and guitarist is claiming that rock band U2 and lead singer Bono stole one of his songs for their 1991 album “Achtung Baby.” In a lawsuit filed Monday in Manhattan federal court, Paul Rose says U2 lifted elements of his song “Nae Slappin” for their song “The Fly” while they were looking for new inspiration. Source
  • Emma Stone says Oscars mix-up 'one of the most horrible moments of my life' [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Emma Stone has labelled the Oscars’ Best Picture flub “one of the most horrible moments of my life”. The actress took to the stage at the Academy Awards on Sunday night when presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway wrongly announced La La Land had won the prestigious gong. Source
  • Academy apologizes for Oscars best picture gaffe, firm takes responsibility [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    LOS ANGELES — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is apologizing to the cast and crews of the films “La La Land” and “Moonlight” for the mistaken announcement of the best picture winner during Sunday night’s Oscars award ceremony. Source
  • Dave Chappelle to present Just for Laughs with CSA's Icon Award

    Entertainment CBC News
    One of the world's top comedians will present a special award to one of the world's best-known comedy brands at the Canadian Screen Awards. Dave Chappelle will be in Toronto to present Just For Laughs with the Academy Icon Award, which celebrates the institutions behind important achievements in Canada's screen industry. Source
  • Come From Away headlines Mirvish 2017-18 season

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    TORONTO - Several Tony Award-winning hits and the return of Canadian smash musical “Come From Away” are among the shows headlining the 2017-18 season from Mirvish Productions. The acclaimed Lincoln Center Theater production revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” will head to Toronto with performances scheduled for July 10 to Aug. Source
  • 'The King and I,' 'Muriel's Wedding,' 'Come From Away' in new Mirvish season

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Several Tony Award-winning hits and the return of Canadian smash musical "Come From Away" are among the shows headlining the 2017-18 season from Mirvish Productions. The acclaimed Lincoln Center Theater production revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I" will head to Toronto with performances scheduled for July 10 to Aug. Source
  • Academy apologizes for Oscars best picture gaffe

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is apologizing to the cast and crews of the films "La La Land" and "Moonlight" for the mistaken announcement of the best picture winner during Sunday night's Oscars award ceremony. Source
  • Iranian hard-line newspapers criticize Farhadi's Oscar win

    Entertainment CTV News
    TEHRAN, Iran -- Two Iranian hard-line newspapers have criticized Asghar Farhadi's best foreign film Oscar, claiming "politics" brought him the award. The Keyhan daily said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump's executive order to ban U.S. Source