Oscar-nominated actor Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai) has signed on to join Ansel Elgort in the HBO Max crime series Tokyo Vice, which he’ll also executive produce, Collider has learned.
Based on Jake Adelstein’s first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat, Tokyo Vice follows Jake’s daily descent into the neon-soaked underbelly of Tokyo, where nothing, and no one, is truly what or who they seem.
Watanabe will play Hiroto Katagiri, a detective in the organized crime division of the Tokyo Police Department who serves as a father-figure to Jake throughout the series and helps guide him along the thin, often precarious line between cops and the world of organized crime.
Tokyo Vice was a straight-to-series pick-up for HBO Max, and the show hails from Tony Award-winning playwright J.T. Rogers (Oslo) as well as Endeavor Content, which will also be handling international sales. In addition to Elgort, Watanabe and Rogers, executive producers include John Lesher, Emily Gerson Saines and Shang-Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton.
Tokyo Vice is a big deal for Watanabe, as it marks his first foray behind the camera as an EP. I’m personally looking forward to watching this series, as I’ve been eager to see the baby-faced Elgort get his hands dirty and do something a bit grittier, kind of like how Miles Teller just starred in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Amazon series Too Old to Die Young. Tokyo is a fascinating setting for a crime series and I wouldn’t be surprised if this show became one of HBO Max’s most buzzworthy offerings.
Watanabe earned an Oscar nomination for his supporting turn opposite Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai. He has starred in several blockbusters, such as Inception, the two most recent Godzilla movies, and Detective Pikachu. He also lent his voice to Wes Anderson‘s Isle of Dogs and Transformers: The Last Knight. Watanabe is represented by WME and Activist Artists Management.