I’ll be perfectly honest with you — I didn’t think a live-action, Hollywood version of “Akira” would actually happen. Think about it — WHY would it actually happen? It’s popular in Japan and among anime fans, sure, but who actually knows about it in America? Or most of the world? Not a whole lot. There is no real brand here, at least nothing that would justify the surely 100s of millions they’ll have to spend to make this thing (unless they plan on drastically cutting down the sci-fi/tech stuff, I mean).
So yeah, I’m honestly shocked this thing could actually happen, and not just actually happening, but moving forward pretty darn quickly. Deadline is reporting that Steve Kloves’ recent rewrite of the script has gotten everyone from director Albert Hughes to the suits at Warner Bros./Legendary all afluttered. So much so that they’re already eyeing an August start date. THIS YEAR.
And with the script turned in and everyone onboard, all the studio and Hughes have to do now is, you know, cast the thing. The two big characters in the film are, of course, Tetsuo and Kaneda. Curiously, they are apparently keeping the original Japanese names, despite relocating the film to a futuristic “New Manhattan”. My guess is that the title, along with the character names, will be changed by the time production nears. I just don’t see the point in keeping them “Japanese” when nothing else about the movie will be Japanese.
As for the shortlist of actors, Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy are up for Tetsuo, while the more vital role of Kaneda is being narrowed down to Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix.
That’s quite a list. Quite an eclectic list to boot. Of course, “shortlists” have been known to be wrong before…
Trailer for the 1988 original anime by Katsuhiro Ôtomo: