Born in Tokyo, 1947, Kitano became involved in theater in the early 70s and under the pseudonym Beat Takeshi became one of Japan’s most famous comedians. He became famous in the West with a role in Oshima Nagisa’s < Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence>(1983). He made his directorial debut in 1989 with < Violent Cop>. His films include < Sonatine>(1993), < Kids Return>(1996), < Hana-Bi>(1997), < Kikujiro>(1999), < Zatoichi>(2003), and his latest < Kantoku Banzai>. He is also running his own film company, Office Kitano, which launched Tokyo Filmex in 2000.