Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is a Japanese-born American actor who, in addition to his extensive film work, has appeared on television in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Thunder in Paradise, Nash Bridges, Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding, Heroes and Revenge, among others.
He also provided the voice of Sin Tzu for the video game Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu and played the part of Earth Alliance security officer Morishi in Babylon 5. He played a soul-stealing sorcerer Shang Tsung in a film adaptation of the video game Mortal Kombat.
Tagawa was born in Tokyo, Japan, the son of an actress from Tokyo and a Japanese-American father who served in the United States Army (stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Fort Polk, Louisiana and Fort Hood, Texas). He was raised in various cities.
He began acting in high school while attending Duarte High School in Southern California. He attended the University of Southern California, and was an exchange student in Japan.
His breakthrough as an actor came when he was cast as the Eunuch Chang in The Last Emperor (1987). In 1989 he posed as an undercover agent of the Hong Kong Narcotics Board in the James Bond film License to Kill.
In 1991 he starred alongside Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee in the action film Showdown in Little Tokyo, where he played the role of Yakuza boss Yoshida. He also starred alongside James Hong and Jeff Speakman in the same year in the film The Perfect Weapon, where he played Kai, an assistant to the Korean mafia families.
Many remember him from the movie Mortal Kombat (1995) as the shape-shifting sorcerer Shang Tsung, and as the deadly pirate leader Kabai Singh in The Phantom (1996).
Tagawa is among the actors, producers and directors interviewed in the documentary The Slanted Screen (2006), directed by Jeff Adachi, about the representation of Asian and Asian-American men in Hollywood.
Tagawa was selected for the role of Heihachi Mishima in Tekken, the film adaptation of the popular video game franchise. He was also featured as the voice of Brushogun in Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo.
Tagawa's interest in films began at the age of eight when his mother took him to see Shirley McClain's Academy Award-winning performance in Some Came Running.
He began his acting career as an extra in Big Trouble in Little China. His feature films have grossed over 1.5-billion in worldwide box office and he has delivered dozens of performances on television shows and series.
The feature films have netted 13 Academy Awards from The Last Emperor to Pearl Harbor to Memoirs of a Geisha.