Takeshi Kitano is a Japanese comedian, television personality, director, actor, and an author. He is also known for his film-work abroad. Also known as Beat Takeshi, he rose to fame as one half of the comedy duo Two Beat in the 70s. Takeshi made his directorial debut with Violent Cop (1989).
The Early Life of Takeshi
Takeshi was born on 18 January 1947, in Adachi, Tokyo, Japan. He was brought up in Adachi alongside his two brothers and sister. His father was a house painter and mother was a disciplinarian and an educator working in a factory.
Takeshi attended Meiji University to study engineering but later, at the age of 19, he dropped out of college. He then went to Asakusa to learn comedy. While at Asakusa, Takeshi also worked as an elevator operator at Asakusa France-za strip club.
Kitano's Comedy Career and Success
Kitano started as a comedian in 1970s alongside a friend referring to themselves as Two Beat, with the stage name Beat Takeshi and Beat Kiyoshi. Their first television was in 1976 which became successful with positive feedbacks from public moving their act to the national level. The duo was dissolved in the early 1980s as Kitano decided to go solo although Two Beat was one of the successful act of that time. In the 1980s, Kitano hosted a game show Takeshi Castle featuring slapstick-style physical contests.
His first role opposite Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and David Bowie were in Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas. He was featured in the movie as a tough POW camp sergeant during World War II. Although audience laughed at his performance on screen, Takeshi promised to stick to serious and dark characters in a film.
In 1986, Takeshi worked as a consultant and Partial Designer on the Family Computer video game Takeshi no Chosenjo. However, the game was ranked as one of the worst game due to its difficult title and confusing gameplay mechanics.
Takeshi published a memoir, Asakusa Kid, in 1988. Takeshi was featured as the lead in Violent Cop in 1989. Takeshi also published many Books and novels which later got translated into French. Takeshi later rewrote and directed the Kitano’s TV commitments which became the beginning of Kitano’s career as a filmmaker.
1990-2000: Film Recognition
Boiling Point became Kitano’s second film, which was released in 1990, as director and screenwriter. In 1991, Takeshi released his third movie, A Scene at the Sea. His film gathered many nominations and awards which includes Blue Ribbon Awards for Best Film. It also won Takeshi a long collaboration with composer Joe Hisaishi, which lasted until 2002.
Takeshi’s movie Sonatine received positive reviews at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival even though it did poorly in Japan. Kitano got into a motor-scooter accident in August 1994, which lead to partial paralysis on the right-side of his face.
In 1995, Kitano appeared in Johnny Mnemonic, the film Adaption of William Gibson. Takeshi took up painting after his motorcycle accident which also got featured in gallery exhibitions, books and the cover of soundtracks. His paintings were featured in the 1997's Hana-bi.
Hana-bi even won the Golden Lion award at the 1997 Venice Film Festival. Kitano’s significant acting roles were in Nagisa Oshima’s film Taboo (1999). He was featured as Captain Hijikata Toshizo of Shinsengumi Kikujiro.
Takeshi also hosted a TV show Koko ga Hen da yo Nihonjin from 1998 to 2002. His other shows include Sekai Marumi TV and he currently hosts Unbelievable.
In 2000, Kitano played a similar character in Japanese Blockbuster Battle Royale. The same year, Kitano starred in Brother as an exiled Tokyo yakuza in the processing of building a drug empire with the help of Los Angeles local gangster Omar Epps. Although the movie couldn’t be a hit internationally, it earned more than Hana-bi in Japan.
After many unsuccessful roles and criticism, Kitano made comeback with the 2003's Zatoichi in which he directed and starred as well. The movie became a box office hit in Japan winning numerous awards and nominations including the Silver Lion award at the Venice Film Festival.
Takeshi than became an instructor in 2005 until 2008 at the Graduate School of Visual Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts. He then released his first surrealist autobiographical series in 2005 titled Takeshis following with second film Glory to the Filmmaker in 2007.
At 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Takeshi’s film Outrage was on screen and in 2012 at the 69th Venice International Film Festival, a sequel of Outrage, Outrage Beyond was screened. For his film Outrage Beyond, he received the Best Director Award in Hong Kong at the 7th Asian Film Awards.
Kitano making his return to American cinema co-starred in live action adaption of manga Ghost in the Shell. He released his third series Outrage Coda in 2017.
Awards and Achievements of Takeshi
For his film Hana-bi, Takeshi won the Golden Lion in 1997 at the 54th Venice International Film Festival. In 2008, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 30th Moscow International Film Festival. Kitano was also named a Commander of the Order of the Arts and Letters of France in March 2010.
Takeshi is married to Mikiko Kitano since 1983. The two are blessed with two children, daughter Shoko Kitano and son Atsushi Kitano. Takeshi and Mikiko are living a very happy life together. Regarding Takeshi’s past affairs, girlfriend, relationship or divorce, there is barely any information.
Kitano’s Earnings and Net Worth
Takeshi stands 5 feet 5 inches. His nationality is Japanese. Although his salary is under review, Takeshi has managed to make an estimated net worth of around $12 million. He also earns from his books sales, painting, and TV shows.