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Kazuya Kamenashi: International Star You Should Know

He’s a pop-song phenom, plays 33 roles in a new film — and works as a sports broadcaster

EARLY START

A founding member and unofficial leader of the Japanese pop mega-group Kat-tun, formed in 2001, Kazuya Kamenashi was signed, at the age of 12 by Johnny’s Entertainment talent agency in 1998.

BREAKOUT YEARS

In 2005, he starred in the hit TV drama “Nobuta wo produce” and his career took off. A single of the show’s theme song that he recorded with co-star Tomohisa Yamashita topped the charts. In 2006, the group, whose name was taken from the first letter of each member’s surname, scored its first million-selling single. All six of its albums and 18 singles hit No. 1.

IT’S ME, TIMES 33

His latest pic, the comedy “It’s Me, It’s Me,” in which Kamenashi plays a mind-boggling 33 roles, won the My Movie Audience Award when it world-preemed at the 15th Udine Far East Film Festival in Italy in April.

COLLECTING KUDOS

Kamenashi won the supporting actor award for his performance as a rebellious teen in the hit 2005 TV drama “Gokusen” at the 44th Television Drama Academy Awards. In 2009, he made his film debut in “Gokusen The Movie,” playing an older version of his juvenile delinquent character in the TV drama. The film was a smash domestically, earning nearly $33 million at the box office.

PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY

“To being faithful to myself. To face anything straight on, without illusions.”

GAME CHANGE

A talented amateur baseball player prior to entering the entertainment world, Kamenashi has not only frequently appeared as a baseball commentator on nationally televised sports shows, but has competed against Japanese major leaguers — both as a pitcher and a hitter — in a series of TV segments.

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