WB Now Wants Ken Watanabe for The Colonel in 'Akira', Not Oldman
"It's a soldier's duty. You wouldn't understand." Oh, the casting for this project is all over the place. Twitch is reporting that Warner Bros' live-action Akira project, which supposedly had TDK's Gary Oldman pretty close to playing The Colonel, is now looking elsewhere (he even mentions in this video it wasn't a done deal anyway). Word is that they're intent on getting Ken Watanabe (Batman Begins, Letters from Iwo Jima, Inception) to star, and have offered him the role. I've got to be honest, I'd love to see him take this, I think he'd be a great fit. Garrett Hedlund is already attached to play Kaneda, along with Kristen Stewart as Kei.
It's not confirmed that he's set yet, but it looks like Oldman has at least passed and they're now trying to get Watanabe officially signed. I also think it's a bit of a strategic move bringing in a formidable Japanese actor for an important role in the film. There's already been a bit of backlash to the Hollywood casting so far, but they've also been complaining ever since it was updated to New-Manhattan instead of Neo-Tokyo, and revised for a more Hollywood-American take, based on Katsuhiro Otomo's manga. Colonel Shikishima, known as simply The Colonel, is the current head of the ongoing government project which was responsible for inadvertently unleashing Akira's power thirty years earlier. I think Watanabe has the talent and depth to really shine in this role. We'll continue to keep you updated on details for Jaume Collet-Serra's Akira movie.