I’m going to tentatively mark this one down as a rumor for the time being, but we have it on pretty good authority, all the same, that Oscar-nominated Japanese bad ass Ken Watanabe is in early talks to make his directorial debut.
The independent project is one that would seem to suit the actor: It’s called 442nd, and it’s about the true story of an American-Japanese military unit assembled during World War II and sent on virtual suicide missions in the European theater. For their efforts against the Nazis, that unit go on to become the most decorated unit in American military history.
Watanabe, who stars in this summer’s Inception, had the central role in Clint Eastwood’s Iwo Jima, which was a war movie about the battle between the American and Japanese told from the Japanese perspective. I could certainly see that movie, in addition to working with Eastwood, as preparing him to direct a project of this nature, and the man has certainly worked with enough high-profile directors over the years to pick up a few things about directing.
The project is currently being assembled by producer Bill Gerber (Gran Torino) and Roar, the management and production company that represents Watanabe and the two Hemsworth brothers. We’ll see where this goes, and bring you more information as it becomes available.