By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist May 6, 2011 at 6:09AM
After every young white boy in Hollywood was shortlisted for "Akira" -- Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy for Tetsuo and Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix for Kaneda -- Warner Bros. suddenly seemed to realize they needed a big-name, worldwide, bankable star to make this expensive movie work. So get ready to hit the comments section with your complaints on the next choice.
Reports have surfaced -- with bits of info pulled together from Vulture and THR; each has info the other doesn't -- that much older and partially Asian dude Keanu Reeves is in early talks to take the role of Kaneda in the film. With a budget said to be in the neighborhood of $230 million, this pic would need to be a megasized hit to make back its coin. Apparently both Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling were offered and passed on the part, but frankly, we don't see either of them really being interested in the first place.
The PG-13, two-film franchise -- though it's unclear if the budget number is for both films or just one -- will find the story relocated to New Manhattan with the first film being adapted from books 1-3 of the manga (though why they didn’t change the names of the characters as well is a little odd). The feeling around the studio is that if Reeves signs on, it will entice another big name to come on board as well.
So, another step for the long-gestating Albert Hughes project that will surely raise more ire from the fan faithful. Seems the studio is not really sure what it wants to do with the cast -- Reeves is quite a bit of a different step than anyone named before -- though we understand their desire to get a globally viable star on the marquee and posters. But who else might sign on remains to be seen.