Tag Archives: Akira

WB taps Tom Cruise to play Billy Cage–née Keiji Kiriya

By Guest Contributor Marissa Lee, cross-posted from Racebending

Warner Bros has finally glommed onto a lead actor for its adaptation of the Japanese science fiction novel All You Need is Kill.

Set in a post apocalyptic future, All You Need is Kill is about a young Japanese soldier, Keiji Kiriya, who serves on an international fighting force fighting an alien invasion. Keiji gets stuck in a “Groundhog’s Day” scenario where he keeps reliving the day he died.

Set to play the main character in the film adaptation? On December 1st, 2011, Variety reported: Tom Cruise.

Continue reading

Neo-Manhattan Melodrama: How The American Akira Could Be Worse Than We Imagined

By Arturo R. García

When last we left the American Akira, the racebending had barely started: Garrett Hedlund was only being courted to play the lead character, Kaneda.

This week, thanks to Geek Tyrant and other sites, we got some more disturbing pieces of the puzzle, when this casting call for extras and stand-ins listed Twilight‘s Kristen Stewart stepping in as “Ky” – possibly because the character’s original name, Kei, was just too long for somebody’s tastes – and Helena Bonham-Carter playing Lady Miyako.

The casting call also shed some light on how the new version’s vision of “Neo-Manhattan” might play out. As “adaptations” go, it sounds like this Akira could hew as closely to this Akira as Jesus Christ Superstar did to the Gospels. Spoilers are under the cut.
Continue reading

Quoted: IO9 on The Akira Whitewashing

Back when Warner Bros. greenlit their Americanized Akira movie everyone was buzzing that Tron Legacy star Garrett Hedlund was the lead contender for the role of Kaneda. Now it seems he’s been offered the part. Gah.

Listen, we don’t have anything really against Hedlund, he’s nice to look at on screen and his acting certainly wasn’t the only reason Tron Legacy failed so dreadfully. But come on, Hollywood, this is just boring. Can we at least consider an Asian actor, just one? And are we really going to call this guy Kaneda? Or are you going to Americanize all the Japanese names as well? Will Shotaro Kaneda be turned into Kenny, and Tetsuo Shima into Timmy?

- From “Garrett Hedlund offered lead role in Akira. Crap,” by Meredith Woermer

Lightcycle To Nowhere: Akira Remake Moving Ahead With New Casting Calls

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.
Continue reading

In Or Out: On Keanu, Akira, and expectations for multiracial actors

By Guest Contributor Monique Jones, cross-posted from moniqueblog

If you’ve been following the news surrounding Akira, you might have heard that Keanu Reeves was circling the film and probably would have been cast in the role of Kaneda. But Reeves has dropped out of the film. Also, according to CinemaBlend, a big chunk of the staff on the movie have been let go and the previsualization department has been shut down. However, WB says the movie is still in development in the following statement:

Production on Akira has not halted or been shut down, as the film has not yet been greenlit and is still very much in the development stage. The exploratory process is crucial to a project of this magnitude, and we will continue to sculpt our approach to making the best possible film.

Reeves, whose background includes Hawaiian and Chinese heritages, may have been considered by the studio execs and/or the casting agent over “Akira” to be a good pick for the film because of this. Racebending.com seems to think so. However, Racebending explains their hesitance to see Reeves cast as Kaneda:

We can sort of see why Warner Bros. would want to go with one of their previously established stars–Reeves is arguably Warner Bros. biggest actor of Asian descent (granted, only 2% of WB films from 2000 to 2009 had an Asian lead, and they were mostly Asian nationals like Jet Li and Rain.)

At the same time, it’s unsatisfactory to see Reeves (who has played white characters, multiethnic characters, and even Siddhartha) default to Hollywood’s only go-to actor when they need to find someone to portray an Asian lead character. Hollywood isn’t exactly hard at work to discover this generation’s next hot “Keanu.”

For Asian American actors who aren’t Keanu Reeves, opportunities to play lead characters continue to be few and far between. Will Warner Bros. exceed expectations and cast an Asian American actor alongside Reeves to play Tetsuo? Can a $230 million Akira project that barely resembles the source material make enough to make a profit?

Now, I understand what Racebending is saying here. They would like to see Asian/Asian-American actors who aren’t the typical Hollywood type cast in the film adaptation of one of the biggest Asian art exports ever. They are also slightly annoyed at Reeves being constantly picked for these types of roles instead of Hollywood execs trying to find someone new. To be clear, I’m not knocking what Racebending’s opinion on the matter is; they are, after all, an Asian-American group and I’m African-American, a person on the fringes. And their opinion is partly the impetus behind my epic Akira Asian shortlist posts, because it does get tiring to see the same people get cast over and over again. But something that I noticed in the comments section of various movie websites paints a different picture about Keanu-gate. Yes, the commenters are just as annoyed as Racebending, but there’s a large number of people who think Reeves is white and white only, thereby not suitable for the role.

This wave of dissention from commenters raises the issue about the murky state of biracial or multi-racial actors and actresses in Hollywood. Some are thought of as a representation of one race while others are viewed almost like an “all-purpose” type person; both ideologies have a bit of error in them. The statement also raises an even bigger question–what is Hollywood’s role in our race perceptions?

Continue reading

Alternate History: How Keanu Reeves Might Have Saved Akira – And Himself [Humor]

By Arturo R. García

By now, the Akira live-action adaptation is threatening to turn into the Spider-Man musical of ill-advised Americanizations. Not only has Legendary Pictures, which was supposed to co-finance the two-film project with Warner Brothers, reportedly ended its’ involvement, but WB President Jeff Rubinov, either too desperate or too myopic to care about fans’ casting concerns, allegedly personally offered the lead role of Kaneda to 46-year-old Keanu Reeves.

This isn’t the first time Reeves has been connected to a movie based on an iconic Japanese story; for a couple of years, he was reportedly up for the part of Spike Spiegel in a Cowboy Bebop adaptation. But what would have happened if somebody – somebody with access to, let’s say, a certain time-traveling phone-booth – had enabled Reeves to play Kaneda, the teen anti-hero, when he truly looked the part? How would the news clippings from those pre-Internet days have read? As the great Vin Scully likes to say, the saddest words of tongue and pen are these:
What might have been …

Continue reading

George Takei Steps Up His Protests Against Akira Whitewashing

By Arturo R. García

Actor George Takei’s penchant for activism has helped shed light on efforts to protest the upcoming big-screen adaptation of Akira – first with the tweet pictured above directing fans to join Racebending’s petition against the possible whitewashing of the story’s principal characters, and now with an interview with The Advocate that has garnered attention around blogging circles.

Weeks ago, a shortlist of actors reportedly being considered for the main roles of Kaneda and Tetsuo was revealed to be composed exclusively of white actors – in spite of the original character names being retained for the new version.

In the interview, Takei notes the practice’s history in Hollywood, specifically citing the film adaptation of Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, and mentions the folly of changing the characters’ race in another, more recent film:

The idea of buying the rights to do that and in fact change it seems rather pointless. If they’re going to do that, why don’t they do something original, because what they do is offend Asians, number 1; number 2, they offend the fans. The same thing happened with M. Night Shyamalan. He cast his project [The Last Airbender] with non-Asians and it’s an Asian story, and the film flopped. I should think that they would learn from that, but I guess big studios go by rote, and the tradition in Hollywood has always been to buy a project, change it completely and flop with it. I think it’s pointless, so I thought I would save Warner Bros. a bit of failure by warning them of what will most likely happen if they continue in that vein.

In an ideal situation,Takei went on to say, would be for the movie to be cast with Asian-American actors. As Racebending had previously reported, only 2% of Warner Brothers films from 2000 to 2009 had an Asian actor in the lead.

Not only has Takei’s interview with The Advocate been quoted on mainstream entertainment sites like Perez Hilton and Moviefone, but it also appears some geek-oriented outlets are finally taking notice of the issue: Newsarama and NerdBastards have linked to Takei’s interview in a complementary fashion, though Newsarama’s J. Caleb Mozzocco still doesn’t seem to quite understand the issue at hand, as he followed his link with this statement:

While I admit being attracted to the sheer insanity of casting twenty-something white guy Robert Pattinson and 30-year-old white guy Justin Timberlake as Japanese teenagers Tetsuo and Kaneda, if they don’t land Pattinson while he’s still  a chick-money magnet, I can’t imagine this going over well at the box office or in film reviews.

“Insanity,” of course, is not what this is about. But, at least people are talking about Takei’s statements and remembering that he’s been able to balance his progressive stance with his sense of fun: