WB Now Wants Ken Watanabe for The Colonel in 'Akira', Not Oldman

November 22, 2011
Source: Twitch

Ken Watanabe

"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.

Find more posts: Casting, Movie News, Opinions



This is a very good choice, and so far, best casting news.

David Banner on Nov 22, 2011


I can stand behind this casting.

Xerxexx on Nov 22, 2011


to little to late

happy camper on Nov 22, 2011


I love Ken (Last Samurai & Batman Begins) but is the casting just pure PR move by Warner to satisfy those multi-cultural fanatics or something that is plot driven? This is an Americanization of a Japanese story, and Warner has bought the right to re-make it. Warner doesn't owe it to anybody to do rainbow coalition casting to give homage to the East Asian original. How does an Asian general with thick Japanese accent would look like as a head of a SECRET & AMERICAN defense project? 

Gunther on Nov 23, 2011


Totally agree....token. This makes me sad : (

esophus on Nov 23, 2011


pardon my french, but i will boykott this f..king who-might-be-in-it-update-madness. give me the final full cast list in a couple of months, a trailer and solid facts about it and stop writing about each an every little "could be". is it just me? i love firstshowing, but this is annoying...annoying i say...

S.B. on Nov 23, 2011


this is the ONLY casting decision that has been right for this movie. 

john s on Nov 23, 2011


Nice to see no racebending in this instance.

Mr. Tibbs on Nov 23, 2011


agreed. lets make a american verion of a Japanese anime movie classic with a all white cast... Oh you mad? Lets cast a Japanese actor, but not as in the maine roles... those are reserved for white actors... It shouldn't even be called Akira. Just as plausible as a white person cast as Goku... Oh wait.

Roderick on Nov 23, 2011


The colonel is a key character. Why in an American adaptation would Hollyweird cast a Japanese cast? Last I checked Japanese weren't American. 

Xerxexx on Nov 23, 2011


Yeah, Asian films should depict JFK and Marilyn Monroe as Japanese...

seri-park on Nov 28, 2011


Say NO Ken!!!!

esophus on Nov 23, 2011


Say NO Ken!!!!

esophus on Nov 23, 2011


Say NO Ken!!!!

esophus on Nov 23, 2011


 Hey guys, there's your asian. Now STFU...

Anonymous on Nov 23, 2011


esophus on Nov 23, 2011


Sigh.....they should have just called it something else and let us think they were inspired by the manga.

ur_babys_daddy on Nov 23, 2011


Sigh...We are all gonna be a bunch of angry sad fanboys when this film debuts.

Technomage on Nov 23, 2011


Not a fanboy of it. Thought it was cool when it came out and wonder why they are changing everything to try to please what they think are "I hate subtitles" audience. Lets remake "Roots" staring Tom Cruise" as Kunte. Then instead of African, they are taken from Beverly Hills and forced to work as cheerleaders for the Chicago Bulls. Mmmmmmm that might actually sell nowadays. Xerxexx want to help with the script?

ur_babys_daddy on Nov 23, 2011


Let's do it! I'll provide the run-on sentences!

Xerxexx on Nov 23, 2011


Screw that. WB is just trying to have a token Asian in the film in barrage of poor casting choices. Watanabe should pass just like I'm going to on this film. 

Kyle Robinson on Nov 23, 2011


bullsh-t, bullsh-t, bullsh-t. Why ruin a (from what I've heard) great movie/manga. Come on WB, they already raped the Avatar: the Last Airbender and that's American in a made up setting.

Anonymous on Nov 23, 2011


I'm boycotting this film.  In the past few years I've turned my back on Hollywood in general.  From the 0.4% representation of Asian-Americans in Hollywood, to the whitewashing of Hollywood scenes (where they show Vancouver, SF, LA with NO Asians)... why bother?  Asian films are much better, anyway.

seri-park on Nov 28, 2011

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