Actor Denis Akiyama, who is best known for starring roles in films like Pixels and Johnny Mnemonic, has passed away at the age of 66. As THR reports, Akiyama died in his hometown of Toronto on Thursday, from a "very rare and aggressive cancer," according to his son Kintaro Akiyama, "He went peacefully into the light on the morning of the full moon."
Moviegoers probably remember Akiyama best as Professor Iwatani, the creator of Pac-Man, who tried to reason with a malevolent alien version of the character (to little success), in the video game throwback film, Pixels in 2015. However, Akiyama also connected as a Yakuza villain on the hunt for Keanu Reeves' Johnny Mnemonic, in the 1995 cult film, with appearances in other big genre films like Resident Evil: Afterlife, and Repo Men. His TV work included the recent 12 Monkeys TV series, Suits, and the cult-classic Rin Tin Tin: K-9 Cop.
A lot of superhero and anime fans will also know Akiyama from his voice work. He was the warrior Malachite in Sailor Moon, and played Marvel characters in the form of Silver Samurai / Iceman in the '90s X-Men animated series, as well as Watcher Prime in the short-lived Silver Surger animated series. In addition to so many TV and movie character acting roles, Akiyama even got in on voicing gaming characters, in projects like the Rainbow Six and Deus Ex franchises.
Akiyama was born on May 28, 1952, and actually studied psychology at York University, as well as working in childcare, before switching to an acting career at George Brown College. Akiyama was very passionate about his career switch, once saying: "Since we only have one life, and I chose to be true to my talents, it was a very serious moment for me. I always knew I had a purpose; I had to really be courageous. I just wanted to do the work."
His son issued the following statement on his father's passing:
"My dad was an actor and consequently a relentless entertainer. He shared his love and guidance with the world, which had a lasting impact on me throughout my formative years. I was lucky enough to work with him professionally on a picture, [2003's] Eloise at the Plaza, in which we played a father and son. That film eternalized a wonderful and magical bond that was both real and fictionalized. His grace and wisdom will remain and continue to guide me and the rest of the world through life.”
R.I.P. Denis Akiyama. We'd lack to pass on our thoughts, prayers and condolences to his family and friends.