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Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Born in Tokyo, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa's life reads like the basis for a novel. Raised on a series of Army posts in the southern United States (including Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the largest military base in the world), Tagawa felt like a stranger in a strange land.

The cultural backdrop of the South can often be a difficult, alienating environment for any outsider. Tagawa's Hawaiian-born; Japanese-American father served with a counter-intelligence unit as part of the U.S. military forces occupying post-World War II Japan. While there, he met Tagawa's mother, a rebellious young woman who became a stage actress.

Even so, Tagawa did not immediately take to acting. Although he says he understood what acting was about at an early age and was cast in high school plays, his mother dissuaded him from theatrical pursuits because she thought that roles offered to Asian actors in American films lacked depth. Instead, Tagawa, who says he always feels the warrior element of his being within his psyche, aimed for a West Point appointment. Yet when he broached the subject to his stern father for approval, the idea was vehemently opposed.

After becoming more socially conscious while attending USC, martial arts provided Tagawa with a way to channel his anger and calm the emotional element of his character. He began studying karate in his teens and later simultaneously incorporated the fighting techniques with an exploration of his Japanese cultural heritage. The intertwined studies led him to trail-blaze his own style of martial arts. Calling it Chuu-Shin, it defines a process of centering inside the heart and mind, and provides the seeker with the structure to unite the physical and spiritual aspects of being.

In many ways, Tagawa's acting career has brought him full circle and stands as a reflection of his life of exploration. After landing his first role as an extra in Big Trouble in Little China in 1986, he sought to avoid background roles and was cast in Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor the following year. Dozens of parts came his way in the following years highlighted by his roles in Rising Sun, Mortal Kombat, Vampires and Snow Falling on Cedars.

In his newest role, Tagawa portrays the savvy if long-suffering police captain of a diverse group of freeform detectives assigned to solve an equally diverse blotter of crimes.

Tagawa resides in Hawaii. His birthday is September 27.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa Facts

BirthdaySeptember 27, 1950 (71)
BirthplaceTokyo, Japan

Selected Filmography

The Tiger?s Cave
The New World
Kubo and the Two Strings
American Me
Hachi: A Dog's Tale
Diamond Cartel
Dalton, Jack of Spies
Mortal Kombat
The Last Emperor
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