"Beat" Takeshi Kitano is widely considered to be Japan's foremost media personality. In addition to his work in the film industry he is an active newspaper columnist, an author and poet, and a ubiquitous presence on Japanese television where he can be seen in up to eight prime time shows per week.
Kitano first found fame, as well as his "Beat" nickname, in the early '70s as one-half of the manzai comedy duo The Two Beats, a fast-paced, cross-talk act that thrilled audiences with their off-color humor and satirical bite. Throughout the early '80s, Kitano acted in a number of films, most memorably in Nagisa Oshima's Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983). He portrayed Sgt. Hara, the jailer of a concentration camp, with a mixture of brutality and pathos, a characterization he would repeat in his later self-directed efforts.