Toronto: 'The Last Samurai' Star Ken Watanabe Shows Emotional Side in 'Rage'

Courtesy of TIFF

"I wanted to see if there was in me personally that aspect of my character," the Oscar-nominated actor said of his departure from strongman characters in Lee Sang-Il's murder mystery.

Inception star Ken Watanabe, who has made a Hollywood career in part playing samurai warriors, on Saturday said he welcomed getting in touch with his emotional side in Rage, Korean-Japanese helmer Lee Sang-Il's murder mystery set for a world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on Saturday night.

"All the roles I've been given have been straightforward, and righteous and strong characters," Watanabe told reporters at the Rage press conference earlier in the day at Bell Lightbox. An experienced stage actor in his native Japan, Watanabe nabbed an Oscar nomination in 2004 for The Last Samurai.

His other Hollywood credits include Batman Begins, Memoirs of a Geisha, Letters From Iwo Jima, Inception, Unforgiven and the Godzilla remake. But Rage finds the veteran actor at the start of the film playing a man worried over his daughter Aiko, played by Aoi Miyazaki, who is dating a dockworker and who is estranged from her father.

"My role as a father who has a long history with his daughter that never went well leaves me as a passive man, everything is reversed," Watanabe told reporters. "I was challenged in playing this role. That's what attracted me to this film. I wanted to see if there was in me personally that aspect of my character, and I wanted to find out," he added.

His role in Rage also followed Watanabe's U.S. stage debut in 2014 when he co-starred with Tony Award nominee Kelli O'Hara in a Broadway revival of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, The King and I. Rage, which is screening in the Special Presentations section in Toronto, is the director's follow-up to Unforgiven, in which Watanabe also starred.

"I'm really proud to bring this film to TIFF, proud also to work with him , not easy, not enjoying. He's always trying to shoot tough shots, but they're great, and all actors trust his films," Watanabe added about his collaboration with Sang-Il.