Whoa! James Franco May Be Cast in Albert Hughes' 'Akira', Too?!

February 11, 2011
Source: JustJared

James Franco / Akira

Wait what?! Gossip site JustJared, which does have a good reputation for being on Hollywood's good side, is reporting that James Franco has been cast in the lead role of Kaneda. We know that Albert Hughes, one half of the Hughes Brothers (of Dead Presidents, From Hell, The Book of Eli) is directing the big screen adaptation for Warner Bros of the beloved manga, which already had an amazing anime in 1988. Apparently Franco really is taking just about every single role he's offered, not only hosting the Oscars while also getting nominated, but landing a role in The Night Stalker and also Sam Raimi's Oz: The Great and Powerful, too.

This new Akira is the Hollywood version, most recently with a script by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (of Iron Man and Cowboys & Aliens work) apparently set in "New Manhattan" where the leader (Franco) of a biker gang saves his friend from a medical experiment. The film is being developed by Leonardo DiCaprio's company Appian Way, so many thought Leo was in the running, along with Zac Efron who was rumored but later denied. Franco is already appearing as the lead in Fox's Rise of the Apes this fall and is still running the awards circuit for 127 Hours, too. You can take this as a rumor for now, but it might be legit, as some have mentioned seeing it on other sites besides JustJared (see below). We'll let you know if we hear confirmation.

The original Akira was set in a neon-lit futuristic post-nuclear war "New Tokyo" in 2019 where a teen biker gang member is subject to a government experiment which unleashes his latent psychic powers. The gang's leader must find a way to stop the destruction he is about to cause. Early last summer, Albert Hughes talked about how they were going to have to stay PG-13, but could still deliver a kick ass flick. I, for one, have been excited to see this project come together and honestly, Franco could be awesome in this. I've seen a bit of his work on Apes and he's just a damn good actor all-around. Hopefully we'll get the confirmation soon, as our concern is that it conflicts with Raimi's Oz and he'll have to choose one or the other. Stay tuned for updates!

Spanish site eCartelera seems to have been the first to report on this casting as well, so at least two places reporting the news that he's on-board. We'll wait to hear confirmation from Warner Bros or Franco himself.

Find more posts: Casting, Movie News, Opinions, Rumors



KA-NEEE-DAAA!!!! I thought this movie was scrapped?

DesinaCoda on Feb 11, 2011


TETUSOOOO!!!!! I thought it was too

Anonymous on Feb 11, 2011



Chris on Feb 12, 2011


So are they keeping the names the same? I'm not too keen on "New Manhattan" but the screenwriters have my support, I'm still timid, Akira is one of my favorite anime's ever and I would love to see it done the right way on the big screen. Franco as Kaneda is inspired casting and I'm behind it 100%. It all comes down to Tetuso's casting, I'd perfer a relative new comer, or Anton Yelchin. So Franco may don the the Red jacket, can he pull off "Good for Health, Bad for Education"?

Anonymous on Feb 11, 2011


As for the names, maybe it's a "New Manhattan" with some heavy Japanese influences? I'm not totally sure, details are kind of hazy on this project right now...

Alex Billington on Feb 11, 2011


I say keep the names the same, we need to quit catering to the people who have "problems" with non-American names.

Anonymous on Feb 11, 2011


Well it is the year 2019 so if by then a white man still doesn't have a name like kaneda then (DRAMATIC VOICE) DAMN YOU ALL!! DAMN YOU ALL TO HELLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!.

Rooneyman on Feb 11, 2011


will be funny when Kaneda becomes Kevin and Tetsuo becomes Tobey.

Logan on Feb 11, 2011


don't even joke like that.

Anonymous on Feb 11, 2011


They should have names like Todd and Brad, they are cool names. Kaneda and Tetsuo are so 80's. They shouldn't be a bike gang either, the mode of transport that would be much cooler would be segways.

Crapola on Feb 12, 2011


"...saves his friend from a medical experiment"??? Does that mean in this version Tetsuo won't even be given powers and we won't even see Akira?

Dan W on Feb 11, 2011


I seriously doubt they'd remove the biggest plot point in the story, I'm really excited to see how the handle the "nightmare" scene when the "kids" are messing with him.

Anonymous on Feb 11, 2011


I hope they have a scene like that in this movie. I don't have much faith for this as of now. I want it to succeed, but I just don't see it happening. I really loved the Book of Eli. I think they can at least put some great visuals in the film as well as sound and music. I'll wait to see a trailer or something before I completely write it off

Dan W on Feb 12, 2011


is'nt franco kind of old for this role

p86 on Feb 11, 2011



esophus on Feb 12, 2011


Alex, your description of original Akira plot is a bit misleading. Anyway, I hope this atrocity of a movie will never see daylight.

Shige on Feb 11, 2011


It is? Where exactly... Would like to clear it up. Thanks.

Alex Billington on Feb 11, 2011


Hey Alex this works: "A secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psionic psychopath that only two kids and a group of psionics can stop."

Anonymous on Feb 12, 2011


Why can't they just do a live action remake of the amine? Why does Hollywood feel the need to repeatedly crap all over storylines for PG13 ratings and to "Americanize" EVERYTHING! For once listen to the fans.

Steve_d on Feb 11, 2011


lazy movie goers, they cater to them and we intelligent movie goers suffer the consequences.

Anonymous on Feb 12, 2011


'Cus H'wood hates Asian actors as leads?

D.Z. on Feb 12, 2011


C'mon, you think anyone would get such a crazy storyline? It's not like Akira was even that good, it didn't shake an inspire artists and film makers since it was first shown or anything, it was just a cheesy anime. It's best they simplify the story so it can be condensed into a 3 minute movie for the trailer, so that the audience knows it won't be dissapointed by things like plot or be scared by looking at Asian people, do you know how scary it is for white movie-goers to see lead roles by people who are not pale-faces? Akira is a work of art, from the music to the insane level of detail put in to the most miniscule piece of background. It isnspired me to draw and most musicians and film makers I know also site is as an influence. I imagine even the film maker would say it was influential to them. Best to change it completely then... Hand slaps head.

Crapola on Feb 12, 2011


"its not like Akira was even that good...Akira is a work of art..." ??? you're quite contradictory. Akira is considered one of the best anime movies. end of story.

Tim on Feb 12, 2011


@Tim In the first part I was being sarcastic. I do believe Akira is a work of art, but would say Tekkon Kinkreet could be better.

Crapola on Feb 14, 2011


Cause all American's love money and a PG-13 rating will bring it in since more people can make it into a PG-13 movie. I don't understand it though cause you can go to any movie theater nowadays and Kids are getting into R rated movies no prob. If they do manage to make this and stay true to the manga all while keeping a PG-13 rating, Well I think they will be cutting a lot of stuff from the movie. Just my opinion though.

Rooneyman on Feb 13, 2011


I know for a fact I will never eat my words on this...I too hope this movie never gets made. Hugh's Bros have yet to earn my respect. Looking forward to the new Matrix movies though.

esophus on Feb 12, 2011


Why are you behind this Alex? What is wrong with leaving the original anime as is? It's not like it's difficult to get a copy or anything. I've introduced Akira to so many people and every time they are blown away. I cringe to think how badly this could be going live-action. I haven't seen a single anime live-action adaptation that wasn't completely horrible, what makes this any different? Sure, I appreciate Franco's talent, but not for this. It will take a miracle for me to come to terms with this if it ever comes to fruition.

IanKuah on Feb 11, 2011


I don't really know why, but I think Akira could be an awesome live-action movie if done right. I'm not sure if the Hughes Bros are the best choice, but I think they might be able to do a pretty damn good job if they get to do exactly what they want. Akira the anime is incredible and will always remain amazing, no matter what, but it would be pretty cool to see a badass live-action counterpart to it that, despite having Hollywood actors in it, could still look great and be entertaining. I'm just a sci-fi guy and I feel like this has the potential to turn out great, while also respecting the original.

Alex Billington on Feb 12, 2011


As a long-time Akira fan (both manga and anime film), I will say I think this could be done really well (unlike most anime/manga). Most people won't give the anime/manga a chance until after a live-action version is made...

ZZZ on Feb 12, 2011


Good! I'm just glad it's not Shia LaBouf or something. I'm not racist but the lead role of this movie shouldn't go to a jewish person. To be PC, it shouldn't go to a black or mexican either. But then again Franco could be jewish so I don't know anything.

BBQ BOB on Feb 12, 2011


This is like the rumor of a live action Neon Genesis Evangelion movie... please don't ruin a great story with some Americanized, watered- down sack of crap.

meeeeeee on Feb 12, 2011


1. We all may as well accept that Hollywood will milk every other beloved film that has been made overseas before having to rely on their own inspiration and creativity (or take risks). If you don’t like that it’s getting made don’t watch it. 2. Whether this film succeeds or fails, it will still be good for the original. 3. Franco will fall through by the time this is in production.

Thavius on Feb 12, 2011


Wasn't Efron rumored for this at one point? Atleast they were in age range with him.

Rooneyman on Feb 13, 2011


PG-13, Albert Hughes, Americanized, writers of Cowboys and Aliens.... man this will suck!! Christopher Nolan should direct this. It needs a dark and gritty visual tone.

Tomi on Feb 12, 2011


Should give this movie to Zack Snyder.

Number Six on Feb 13, 2011


hope they dont screw it up!

A5J4DX on Feb 12, 2011


Whats wrong with getting an Asian actor to play it? You won't get a black man to play Lincoln, why would you get a white guy to play an Asian character? Hollywood just hate Asian actors, just look around there has yet been a successful one.

AA on Feb 13, 2011

38 Make money!!

Germythc on Feb 26, 2011

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