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WB Looking at McAvoy, Garfield, Fassbender or Pine for 'Akira' Roles

by
March 22, 2011
Source: Deadline

Tetsuo (Left) & Kaneda (Right) from Akira

Tetsuuuuoooooo!! Last we heard just a few months ago, Warner Bros' live-action adaptation of Akira, still set to be directed by Albert Hughes (one half of the Hughes Brothers), was getting a polish by screenwriter Steve Kloves (of the Harry Potter franchise). It seems like that did the trick, as Deadline now reports that Kloves' draft has "the studio brass excited" which is always a good sign. But beyond that, who are they now sending this new script to? I hate reporting on more "short list" and early casting rumors, but this is one of those projects that deserves the extra attention. Especially once you hear who they're courting for the leads.

So who's on the Akira shortlist to start? Well, there's at least two key younger roles that need to be filled, as those who are familiar with Akira already know. The first is Tetsuo, the character who is taken away by the government because of the powers he has. Here's the actors who have been "given the script" (and nothing more): Robert Pattinson (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Twilight), Andrew Garfield (Never Let Me Go, The Social Network, Spider-Man) and James McAvoy (Atonement, Wanted, X-Men: First Class). Whoever plays this needs to be incredibly talented as it'll be a tough role, so I'm really pulling for Garfield.

As for the protagonist role of Kaneda, the other young lead character in Akira, it doesn't look like it will be Zac Efron or James Franco after all (phew!). Instead, here's the list of actors for Kaneda who have received the script so far: Garrett Hedlund (Tron Legacy, Country Strong, On the Road), Michael Fassbender (Jonah Hex, Centurion, X-Men: First Class), Chris Pine (Star Trek, Unstoppable), Justin Timberlake (The Social Network, Bad Teacher) and Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator, We Own the Night, I'm Still Here). Kaneda is Tetsuo's friend and leader of their biker gang who goes looking for his friend when they take him.

Deadline confirms that the story, based on Katsuhiro Otomo's 1980's manga series and being split into two movies, takes place in a rebuilt New Manhattan (as opposed to New Tokyo) where a leader of a biker gang attempts to save his friend from a medical experiment. Despite that change, they still seem to be keeping the same characters names, but I think this will be a newly rebuilt Manhattan with Japanese influences. Even as a big fan of the original anime, I'm still excited to see this live-action project come together, believe it or not. So we'll continue to keep you updated on the project. Who do you want to see in the lead Akira roles?

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  • James McAvoy for sure 😉
  • Spiffyman
    I'd still like to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt in it but can't always get what you want. also i can't see fassbender and phoenix being in it don't get me wrong great actors but just too old for characters that are suppose to be teenagers.
    • thecool
      I agree. I'd love to him in this. Perfect for either role.
  • GetToDaChoppaaaaa
    James McAvoy for Tetsuo cause the character needs to be a bit nuts, and McAvoy has shown he can do a bit of that in Wanted. And Garrett Hedlund or Chris Pine for Kenada cause they're relatively young and have shown to be good leads in fast paced films.
  • Anon
    get ready for obvious american renaming of characters. thank you hollywood.
    • Anonymous
      I have doubts that they will change the names.
    • Jtmhvv
      It said the charCters keep they names
  • salad
    Who buys the rights to possibly the most well known Japanese manga/anime and changes it to be about America *groans loudly*
    • Anonymous
      its an American adaptation, would you complain if Poland did the same? or Russia? New Zealand?
      • salad
        ahh yeah I'm pretty sure that was my point!
  • Anon
    neo manhattan instead of neo tokyo. ffs get over yourself america.
    • Anonymous
      its an American adaptation, would you complain if Poland did the same? or Russia? New Zealand?
      • Anon
        of course. its meant to be neo tokyo with tetsuo and kanaeda. and not neo manhattan with tim and kyle. not neo warsaw with tate and kazmer. not neo moscow with.. oh you get the point. and "american adaptation" seems to be a great excuse for raping good material from across the globe that wasnt theirs to be adapted in the first place.
        • Anonymous
          look I'm a huge Akira fan, but I've come to accept the fact that its gonna be Americanized. So I'm not wasting my time damning the film...The film flops then oh well, we have the original source still intact.
      • Anon
        its like if Pakistanis (if they could) bought rights to captain marvel and made a movie and released it internationally claiming its a pakistani adaptation, deal with it. i hope you can see why that would piss off a lot of people.
        • Anonymous
          It would be a Pakistani adaptation...and I would deal with it.
        • Hugh
          Get over yourself it ain't even made yet and u complaining. You act as if u wrote the manga to be all pissed off. It's an adaptation meaning yes there will be some stuff changed deal with it or don't watch it... No use complaining. Besides the movies in good hands
  • Chris Pine is 31 years old, Hedlund 27 and McAvoy is 32. The characters in Akira are teenagers. Justin Fuckin Timberlake? I think he can act ok, but he was in Nsync. It's going to be terribad. How's Manhattan going to get Neo? Who cares...
    • Lamar
      Its going to be Neo Manhattan after World War III, I mean surely that can change that...right?
      • They should call it Shakira 3000 and be done.
  • Lebowski
    goddamn every single person attached to this should hang their head in shame
  • thecool
    In the original, the characters are still in high school. Uuhhh WTF.
  • Ian Kuah
    This gives me such a bad feeling. Like the other comments, why are they considering such older talent? Neo Manhattan? Has anyone involved with this project even read or seen what they're trying to ruin? They could at least try to be subtle about it. Sadder and sadder.
  • Cookiepuss
    Why not just stick with NeoTokyo and cast asian actors or is that still a no no in hollywood?
  • I'm sorry but news like this annoys the hell out of me. Right off the bat they have it all wrong. Akira as a manga and as an animated film is classic for both art forms and this movie reeks of big money Hollywood knowing shit about the material at its heart. I feel sorry for Katsuhiro Otomo having to endure such bullshit with his masterpiece. I hope he's getting and or has gotten PAID as he deserves it for mental artistic anguish. P.s. Casting it should be full of unknowns or up and coming young actors that aren't well known (with talent of course, Garfield makes it) for starters but on an easy note I'd much rather have a director like Duncan Jones, Neill Blomkamp or Gareth Edwards take a lick at it instead of any Hughes brother, sorry.
  • P.s.s. Neo Tokyo is a must as are all the set pieces (Kaneda's classic iconic bike). I'll take a chance on the leads being American, they were adopted so that can be worked quickly, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tetsuo and Andrew Garfield as Kaneda. But Neo Tokyo is a must.
  • Cracky
    I thought I read somewhere (like years ago) that the modernized story would involve Manhattan being destroyed (similar to Tokyo in the original Akira) and Japan coming over to buy up the rubble and rebuild it into Neo Tokyo-- thus materializing Japanese/American people into one city and mixing up the acting roles between the two. Would have been simply legit. With that said, I am very open to having Kaneda and Tetsuo being a bit older in this one. Whatever works right? I mean, I'd rather not leave this in the hands of our current Hollywood brats. I'm all for Chris Pine and McAvoy... and McAvoy, of course, for Tetsuo. The only problem I can possibly fathom now is one half of the Hughes Bros. (maybe the better half?) is directing. They mean well with their films, but honestly, I think you have loads of personal polishing to do.
    • Ian Kuah
      The only problem you can fathom is the director? Really? You can't fathom that this film will be utterly appalling due to a large number of varied issues related to casting, production, locations, etc? Sorry, no specific offense to you, I'm just depressed that this is in the works. I think I'm going to go watch a good movie now, like Akira.
      • Cracky
        Man, the first time I heard of the live-action version of Akira I was setting these boards (and other boards) on fire with hate and purist frustrations. But it's been a long road to production time-- and I guess I'm just able to handle everything that I'm hearing about the progress of this film with a bit of realistic positivity. Everything except the director. I love Akira, nay, anime of all times. But I'm also an advocate of learning to just shut the fuck up until I see some real footage and material, ya dig? And another note positive realism: Do you REALLY think Hollywood would make a strictly Japanese cast, faithful adaptation set in Neo Tokyo? Come on now.
  • G.
    just wanted to understand why james franco is a "phew" hes not gonna be kaneda, but justin timberlake is fine? As a huge Akira fan I think almost all of these choices are awful. Its gonna be White-American-Akira! Not that race is a major factor but these characters are supposed to have a certain grittiness and not the clean pretty boy, hollywood type. Just my opinion i guess...
  • Anonymous
    Has anyone stopped to ask "why" we need an Akira adaptation?
  • Dan W
    These casting ideas make me scratch my head, as many others are doing. They pretty much all sound terrible. McAvoy is just not good. Timberlake is also terrible. Fassbender is too old. All these actors don't make me think of Kaneda or Testsuo, not the fact that they are Japanese, but just in the way their characters are. I'm so confused as to how this movie is going to play out. I'm starting tor eally get worried based on these casting ideas.
  • Lamar
    I was actually excited to hear of an American Akira adaption, but with each bit of news I'm becoming discouraged (casting anyway). Kaneda and the gang are supposed to be teenagers, but if you're gonna make them a little older, fine. But Fassbender and Phoenix, way too old. Out of this list I'd like to see Garfield as Tetsuo (he was incredible in the Social Network) and Pine or Hedlund as Kaneda.
  • I hope everyone involved in this movie dies
    • Anonymous
      That's a little much, man.
  • Anonymous
    Garfield or McAvoy for Tetuso. Pine for Kaneda. I'm gonna look on the bright side, I have minuscule amounts of faith in this, and if it fails I'll admit I'm wrong.
  • Rooneyman
    Andrew Garfield is the only person who I would even consider outta this list to play the characters and even he's wrong for the role. Alex Pettyfer could be a great choice. Keep Pheonix away from this film, that dude is way past his prime.
  • happy camper
    all those names make me cringe. Why not just reanimate the film.
  • Anonymous
    ooooo...... those casting options are awful. the directors are awful... the relocation is awful *sigh* News on this always just hurts to hear. Yet every time Alex posts something new i read it and let it ruin my day *double sigh*
    • Hahaha sorry man! It sucks cause I'm such a big Akira fan I have to write about this stuff, but I know it will always upset all the fans. Makes for good discussion in the comments at least! 😉
      • Anonymous
        I'm a huge fan too...and while I'm upset about some things, I've come to accept the fact that its being made and that it might fail.
  • tir na nog
    Justin bieber for Tetsuo,you heard it here first. In fairness though if your going to spend 50mill on a film your going to hire names....just saying...JGL would be a good fit,maybe Ahnuld as the colonel. Personally I would prefer a Japanese version with Weta vfx.
  • *cringe*
  • Mony
    Ah Hollywood, never change. Asking for an Asian lead is too much I guess. I never really followed Akira too much, but I can understand the frustrations. I am happy none of my favourite animes/mangas have been touched or being thought of. My message for Hollywood - Please continue to stay the f*** away from my favourites.
  • Rey
    im looking forward for this actually, hope they keep the names as well, no Americanizing the names please hollywood
  • Ryupoi
    I just wish they would stick to a cast of talented younger actors instead of using people who are very obviously too old for the roles. That may depend on how much they want to change the story though. Another thing is the music in the original movie was almost a character itself. It set the atmosphere so well from the start so I hope the score for this will be good too.
  • Tim
    Andrew Garfield could be awesome as Tetsuo. I'm pulling for Garrett Hedlund for Kaneda as I can picture him playing the role best though I wouldn't mind Chris Pine. Joaquin Phoenix is a little old, no?
  • Andre
    Life, I am very disappointed in you.
  • Jedi9393
    why cant we have one good american actor and another character be an up and coming asian actor? that seems fair and easy to please the diehards and the mainstream as well??
  • Kpo2345
    Mixed feelings about this. I'm not an anime fan, but akira is one of my favorite movies. I'd love to see it done live action if they did it right....but part of me also wouldn't mind an all cgi movie like the final fantasy flicks....I think it would translate much better with the technology that's available. You can make it look almost life like and I just don't see how they could pull off the effects in the anime in live action. Also is this movie still rumored to be pg-13? That right there is what will piss me off. Akira HAS to be an R rated movie. The anime didn't have alot of language but the action sequences if they try n pull some bs dragon ball z shit I'll flip and probably won't watch it. If it's rated r I'm ok with the rumored cast....I'd see it live action or not. But if they do some harry potter narnia pg-13 crap I'm gonna be so disappointed
  • Kpo2345
    I'd prefer an all cg movie ala the final fantasy flicks. But live action with that cast, ehhh ok. I'm not a huge anime fan but Akira is one of my fav movies. Also, is it still rumored to be pg-13? This is an R-rated movie, no way they could do the original any kind of justice if they went the pg-13 route.
  • Anonymous
    If they're gonna americanize it so much, I REALLY hope they change the characters' names from Kaneda and Tetsuo to something... american. Sure, keep "Akira", so long as you at least use an asian kid for that role, but I hate it when they give white people asian names in movies and expect audiences to not be distracted by it. Honestly, tho, I don't see how this movie could be good at all. On one hand, if they follow too close to the books / anime, then a lot of stuff is going to seem really really cheeseball in live action (makeup on 8 year old kids to make them look like they're really old? Fat biker guy with a clown fetish?), but if they decide to take the material off the rails and do their own thing with it they risk losing the whole pint of the story, the characters and everything else. Hell, they risk that just by making a live-action adaptation. I mean, I get why the idea seems so cool, but there are some huge suspension-of-disbelief hurdles to get over to make this project work. The cartoon was a great blend of awesome characters, awesome story, awesome animation and visuals, corny-but-endearing dialogue with a big dash of 80's cheese to glue it all together. As much as I'd like to think a live-action film could work, I have serious doubts about this adaptation, especially when they start adding a decade or two to the characters' ages. The age diference will either have to fundamentally change the characters perspectives and drastically alter the story, or you'll have a bunch of 30-somethings running around in leather jackets acting like dumb teenagers. Neither of those two options seem ideal to me.
  • have they forgotten what happened to dragonball!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Other-American pride
    White guys? This is the most racist casting ever. I'm boycotting it. Whitewashing.
  • I understand WB's concerns. I'm not at all interested to see an Americanized live action Akira. Squeezing the juice out of a story leaves the pulp behind, but I'm in it for the pulp too.

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