By Arturo R. García
In Akira, a corrupt government courted disaster with little regard for leaving well enough alone, only to be undone by its’ avarice. At least it looks like Warner Brothers’ adaptation is getting that right.
As reported by Racebending and other outlets late last week, WB is officially moving ahead with a live-action adaptation of the classic manga series.
At this point, though, you would think the company should have noticed the law of Diminishing Returns kicking in with this production. The project has been scorned by fans of the original manga since it was originally announced three years ago, and that vitriol hasn’t stopped – especially after word got out that this new Akira would be Americanized/whitewashed, and moved to the New York area.
As of last week’s reports, Garrett Hedlund was being mentioned as the front-runner to play reluctant hero Kaneda. You might remember Hedlund failing to light up the screen with charisma last year in Tron: Legacy, alongside Jeff Bridges and, in this clip, Olivia Wilde as Quorra, the Manic Pixelated Dream Girl.
Granted, Hedlund and Wilde were hamstrung by a cowardly “feel-good” script that bungled what should have been a slam-dunk piece of sci-fi. But maybe Hedlund’s biggest advantage is a willingness to work cheap. The project’s budget was originally rumored to be in the $300 million range, but that’s not going to happen. Instead, when shooting begins early next year, new director Jaume Collet-Serra will have a comparatively meager $90 million available to somehow make his take on Akira not suck.
Casting calls have also gone up online for two other characters: Tetsuo and Ky (known as Kai in the previous versions of the story). Here’s how they were described:
- Tetsuo: Male; any ethnicity, 20-25 years old; strung out, intense, street rat. (LEAD)
- Ky: Female; 20-30 years old; any ethnicity; tough, sexy, strong willed, street savvy. (LEAD)
The “any ethnicity” clause for both characters is worth noting; it’s possible WB would try to mollify some of the PR damage associated with this project by casting POCs in these roles (while making sure that Ky/Kai is still “sexy,” of course). Or we could end up seeing someone like Misfits’ Robert Sheehan playing Tetsuo with some sort of “New Yawk accent.”