Nezu whose real name was Nezu Tooru, came from Yamanashi Prefecture and joined the theatre group Joukyou Gekijou managed by Kara Juro in 1969 and made his breakthrough in the 1978 NHK Taiga drama "Ougon no Hibi" where he played Ishikawa Goemon. He was also featured in Kurosawa Akira's films such as "Kagemusha" and "Ran". Nezu won the best supporting actor award twice in the Nippon Academy Awards for his 1983 movies "Saraba Itoshiki Daichi" and "Kono ko no nanatsu no oiwai ni" and 1988's "Kono ai no monogatari".
However, Nezu started to suffer from hypertrophy in the musculus rectus bulbi inferior of his right eye in 2001 and caused a fatal traffic accident in 2004. Due to his illness and depression brought about soon after, Nezu retired from acting in 2010 and had to move around in a wheelchair. Although he made a brief return to acting in the 2015 movie "GONIN Saaga" on an exceptional basis as requested by the director Ishii Takashi, his condition was said to have worsened again last year.
Sources: Nikkansports 1 / Nikkansports 2