Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano is frequently compared to American actor Johnny Depp for both his ultra-hip, youthful good looks and unyielding affinity for off-kilter performances; his career also mirrors that of his American counterpart, in that he has found marked success in mainstream Japanese cinema in addition to the sometimes outrageous independent films on which his reputation was founded. Possessing the kind of detached cool that seems to stem more from simple confidence than over-inflated ego or condescending arrogance, the aspiring rocker-cum-actor is edging ever closer to mainstream acceptance in Asian cinema -- a prospect that seems especially jarring to the increasingly busy actor.
With a father who eschewed salaryman status to live the life of an artist, and an equally unconventional Japanese-American mother who could often be spotted listening to Led Zeppelin while clad in the latest in thrift-store chic, the fair-skinned Yokohama native was frequently taunted by classmates for his Westernized appearance and unconventional taste for punk rock music. Asano's love of music found him forming a band with like-minded friends in his early teens, and at the age of 14, the musically inclined youngster was taken to his first audition by his father. Though he didn't necessarily harbor any great interest in acting, he was taken aback by the overeager, attention-grabbing antics of his young contemporaries. Asano was confident that he could beat out all the competition by simply acting natural, and his instincts proved correct when he soon made his screen debut as a student in the popular television series Teacher Kinpachi.