Japanese tough guy actor Ken Takakura dies at 83

Tue Nov 18, 2014 12:41am EST
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TOKYO (Reuters) - Ken Takakura, an actor known as "Japan's Clint Eastwood" for his portrayal of tough but principled gangsters in over 100 movies and who gained international fame in director Ridley Scott's "Black Rain," has died at the age of 83.

Takakura, who played alongside U.S. stars such as Tom Selleck and starred in movies directed by Sydney Pollack and China's Zhang Yimou, died on Nov. 10 of lymphoma, his office said on Tuesday.

Born Goichi Oda in Oita, on the southwestern island of Kyushu, Takakura got his start in film in 1955 when he dropped into an audition at Toei, one of Japan's biggest film studios, out of curiosity.

He became known to international audiences through roles in Pollack's 1975 "The Yakuza," where he starred with U.S. actor Robert Mitchum, and the 1992 comedy "Mr. Baseball." In 2005 he appeared in Zhang's "Riding alone for Thousands of Miles."

But it was in the 1989 police thriller "Black Rain", where he played a Japanese policeman dealing with Michael Douglas in the role of an irritable New York cop, that he gained international renown.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)