Ren Osugi (September 27, 1951 – February 21, 2018)

Veteran actor Ren Osugi passed away earlier today from heart failure. He was only 66. It’s not often that I write about someone’s passing but I can’t let Osugi’s go by without a few words.

I’ve grown up watching Japanese films and one person in particular kept cropping up and that was Ren Osugi. He has worked on projects directed by Takeshi Kitano, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, SABU, Shinya Tsukamoto, Sion Sono, Takashi Miike, and other major directors my generation have been influenced by. Usually it was a small part such as a detective in some horror movie or a gangster in a Kitano film but he had such skill and versatility as an actor that he appeared in many more films and doramas and he could hold a film down and bring depth to his characters, no matter what their place in the plot was.

Whatever the role, whether big or small, he brought his presence to a character and made it his own. Usually there was a dose of black comedy that went along with his mischievous smile but he had a wide range that extended to serious roles and that helped imprint him in my memory. Uzumaki showed his weird side but his performance as a hair-mad corpse raider made the film Exte as he chased the main protagonist and her sister for their long locks was so outrageous that it made the film. Audition had him in a short scene but it is endlessly remembered while he was fun in MPD Psycho. His rendition of the old writer in Bitter Honey made the film a moving look at mortality rather than a camera gazing creepily at Fumi Nikaido and their double-act became touching. I was genuinely sad when his character was no longer on screen in Shin Gojira. He gave a twist to his performance in Nightmare Detective and his gangster in Eyes of the Spider presented many hilarious spit-take moments.


His roles in Kitano movies switched between comedy and drama as Sonatine and Getting Any? and Hana-bi showed dramatic and comedic brilliance. Check out this scene and see how he works with Kitano to own this scene as a police partner with a massive change in his life to deal with. His resigned look and his contemplative deep but gentle voice combine with Joe Hisaishi’s music to bring a powerful tone to proceedings:

These few words cannot do him justice. What does give across his skill is the fact he was constantly in work. Whenever I saw his name in the cast list, I made sure to include it in my trailer posts and information. Ren Osugi may have passed away but he leaves a wealth of work and memories for fans, friends, colleagues, and family and so he will live forever.

Here are some images that were floating around on this blog.

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Ren Osugi R.I.P. (September 27, 1951 – February 21, 2018)

5 thoughts on “Ren Osugi (September 27, 1951 – February 21, 2018)

  1. Thank you for the kind message… I’m so sad. I saw so many movies with Osugi Ren in the last 20 years… It’s hard to believe he won’t be here anymore…

    Recently, he joked about the fact that Kitano did not cast him in OUTRAGE 1&2… Then Kitano casted him for the last part of his trilogy. Thus, OUTRAGE 3 is the last movie of Osugi Ren. I did not expect that when I saw this movie in theaters a few months ago. And Osugi was good, as always.

    I heard that Osugi Ren went to the hospital, yesterday, with Matsuhige Yutaka – his partner in BYPLAYERS, a very good drama in which those actors make fun of themselves, playing their own role. It was after shooting a few scenes for the season 2. Mitsuishi Ken, Endô Kenichi and Taguchi Tomorô came to the hospital too. And Osugi Ren passed away… I think that 4 episodes are already shot, but I don’t know what they’ll do about the 5th one, it was supposed to be the final one…

    If you don’t know about this drama, this is my review of the first season:

    The first episodes of the season 2 are now on air I guess, on Amazon (maybe TV Tokyo too). I’ll watch them later. It may be difficult for me to laugh right now.

    Rest in Peace, Osugi san.

    1. Thanks for that information. It’s sad that he passed away but he was with friends. Kitano also cast him in the latest Outrage which is moving because it cements their relationship. I was aware of the dorama but never watched it. That experience will be tinged with sadness knowing that Osugi will be gone by the new season’s final episode which has to be a tribute of some sort.

      1. I agree with everything you wrote. And if I may, thank you again for the article about Osugi Ren’s death, it was well written, almost moving. A kind and simple hommage by someone who knew its art well.

      2. Thanks for the kind words. Seeing the news made me want to write something about him. He meant so much to others that lots of other articles are out there. At least he had his friends and family around him at the end.

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