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


Latest Entertainment News

  • Weinstein Co.'s bankruptcy could bring new wave of accusers

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Is #MeToo part two on the way? With its bankruptcy, the Weinstein Co. has tossed out the non-disclosure agreements that officials say its co-founder and former CEO Harvey Weinstein wielded as a weapon in his sexual predation, bringing with it the possibility of a whole new wave of victims coming forward. Source
  • The Crown producers apologize after Claire Foy, Matt Smith pay disparity uproar

    Entertainment CBC News
    Producers of the Netflix drama The Crown apologized Tuesday to actors Claire Foy and Matt Smith over the revelation that Foy was paid less than her male co-star. A producer disclosed last week that Foy — who starred in the first two seasons as Queen Elizabeth II — was paid less than Smith — who played Prince Philip — because Smith was better known. Source
  • 'This is the year of the female' filmmaker says as Hot Docs achieves gender parity

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- The topic of female empowerment that's been dominating headlines with the .MeToo movement is also being heavily reflected at this year's Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. In announcing the lineup for the 25th edition of the Toronto festival on Tuesday, organizers said they've achieved gender parity for the first time, with 50 per cent of the films coming from female directors and many projects with themes relating to women rising up. Source
  • 'It's not all loss. It's not all disintegration:' Frederica von Stade sings of Alzheimer's in new opera

    Entertainment CBC News
    Frederica von Stade is taking on another challenging late-career role, singing in the world premiere of an opera about two women afflicted by Alzheimer's disease. Opera Philadelphia announced Tuesday it will present Sky on Swings, composed by Lembit Beecher with a libretto by Canadian playwright Hannah Moscovitch, to open its 2018-19 season on Sept. Source
  • Subway delays make Cynthia Nixon late to first political event

    Entertainment CTV News
    New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon says one of the reasons she's running in the Democratic primary against Gov. Andrew Cuomo is because of the poor condition of New York City's subway system. She experienced that firsthand on Tuesday as she was on her way to her first official campaign event in Brooklyn after announcing her candidacy the day before. Source
  • Cynthia Nixon takes aim at Cuomo in first campaign event

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Newly announced New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon on Tuesday criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo, her Democratic primary opponent, for favouring corporations and the rich over average New Yorkers. The liberal activist and "Sex and the City" actress took aim at Cuomo in her first official campaign appearance, telling the audience at the Bethesda Healing Center in Brooklyn that she had just made it to the event "in the nick of time" because of subway delays that she blamed on…
  • 'Black Panther' is most tweeted about movie ever: Twitter

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - The pop culture sensation "Black Panther" has set another record: most tweeted about movie ever. Twitter said Tuesday that Ryan Coogler's box-office smash has been tweeted about more than 35 million times. Source
  • 'The Crown' producers say sorry to stars after pay row

    Entertainment CTV News
    LONDON - Producers of the Netflix drama "The Crown" have apologized to actors Claire Foy and Matt Smith over the revelation that Foy was paid less than her male co-star. A producer disclosed last week that Foy, who starred as Queen Elizabeth II, was paid less than Smith, who played Prince Philip. Source
  • Virtue, Moir tell Ellen DeGeneres they're 'definitely' not a couple

    Entertainment CBC News
    Not even Ellen DeGeneres could get Canadian ice dance sensations Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to say they are more than friends. Virtue and Moir appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Tuesday, and the popular host asked them point-blank what a lot of skating fans have been wondering — "Are you a couple?" Source
  • 'As outstanding and outspoken as ever:' Hot Docs unveils 25th anniversary lineup

    Entertainment CBC News
    Hot Docs will showcase "formidable filmmakers" — with 50 per cent of the program comprising work by female filmmakers — as the international documentary festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this spring. Organizers unveiled on Tuesday the complete list of films slated for its upcoming edition, which takes place April 26 to May 6 in Toronto. Source