Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender & More Sought For 'Akira'

by Kevin Jagernauth
March 22, 2011 3:48 AM
39 Comments
  • |

Garrett Hedlund, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake & Joaquin Phoenix Also In The Mix



The long-gestating "Akira" remake seems to have been knocking around for awhile now and to Warner Bros' credit, they are trying to get it as right as possible before moving this thing forward. With most fans outright skeptical of how the studio is going to change the wild, decidedly not mainstream manga into a broadly appealing, PG-13 two-film franchise, last month the studio brought in the big guns which -- for better or worse -- point in the direction they're headed. Steve Kloves, who has penned seven of the eight ‘Harry Potter’ movies, was tasked with polishing the script for the gestating project and WB appear to be very happy with his work.

Deadline reports that director Albert Hughes (curiously, no mention of his brother Allen...hmmm.....) and WB are stoked about the new script and have sent it out to some very heavyweight talent. Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy have all had the screenplay sent their way for the role of Tetsuo, while Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix will be flipping the pages for the part of Kaneda.

Now there is definitely going to be a cry that the material has been whitewashed, but the the film has been 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). Still, die hard fans will definitely not be pleased, but in the studio's defense, this project was never for that core fanbase anyway. It's been made apparent that WB is looking for a more marketable film than the anime classic and that's what they're going to deliver.

Frankly, all the names listed aren't really a surprise (except for maybe Phoenix). Every actor mentioned has either starred in or contended (or both) for previous franchise films and these are really the top players in their age bracket. It's not completely a shock that the studio is gunning for them, and Deadline adds that WB expects the two leads to come from this crop of names.

No release date or anything is set yet and we'd guess it'll be up to the schedule of whoever lands the part as to when this will lens.

You might also like:
Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

39 Comments

  • helldog | June 21, 2011 4:06 AMReply

    why mcavoy and fassbender are here with all those other trash actors? it makes no sense.

  • Apotheosis | April 20, 2011 4:03 AMReply

    Just join the petition, email the writers, directors and producers. Please do not make this movie unless it is done right! Give this project to a Japanese studio. I would rather read sub titles than see a whitewashed chezzy campy version of a epic materpiece! Give the Akira movie to the guy who did Cassern and Goemon !!!! If you have not scene them just go on youtube. His fx style would be perfect for Akira !

  • Rob | March 31, 2011 1:02 AMReply

    This all reminds of the Godfather directed by Francis Ford Coppola and made in 1972. If anybody doesn't know, all the main characters were played by Caucasian except one, Michael Corleone. THat was famously played by Al Pacino. To remind people of how hard it was to get Al Pacino as Michael, just ask Coppola. The studio execs didn't want Pacino at all. Coppola had to fight tooth and nail to keep this part Italian. Think about it. Would Al Pacino have the career he has without the Godfather? No Way!

    Now we fastforward to 2011 where Akira is being offered to only Caucasians. Deja Vu! Well like back then, someone has to fight this racist casting. Well I note that an Italian Leonardo Dicaprio's company Appian Way is producing this film. I think Leonardo has the passion and power to fight for 1 of the 2 roles to be Asian. So I'm calling you out Leo! You seem to be man of principal and integrity. Don't let this injustice go under your watch!

  • The Playlist | March 29, 2011 5:26 AMReply

    You're totally right. It's really worth murdering people over. I mean, it's not like Hollywood has ever changed the race of characters before to WASPs. This outrage is totally justified.

  • Michael | March 29, 2011 5:17 AMReply

    If this movie is carried out with white actors playing Asian roles, all those who are involved in the film will be sentenced to death.

  • lily | March 27, 2011 4:21 AMReply

    Who is Garfield's agent? In the past month I've read three or four movie deals for him.

  • brian | March 24, 2011 11:21 AMReply

    Why aren't white audiences more insulted by stuff like this?

    I mean, Hollywood is basically calling YOU too racist to handle watching an Asian guy as the lead in a film.

  • Paul | March 24, 2011 9:55 AMReply

    The author of this article is lame for trivializing the whitewashing here by reducing it to supposedly only "fanboys" who might complain. What about the people of color that live in America who are totally underrepresented in American media by the racist big wigs who refuse to admit that the current US population isn't as racist as the top dogs in Hollywood? And don't use the "lack of known Asian American" actors argument into this.

    Did Robert Pattinson have gangs of screaming young girls hurdling towards him before Twilight? Did many in mainstream America know who Garrett Hedlund was before Tron: Legacy? How many people knew who Andrew Garfield was before The Social Network? Could most Americans match a face to the name "Chris Pine" before Star Trek?

    All those actors were shot into superstar status by Hollywood giving them lead role opportunities. The kinds of lead role opportunities that people of color, Asian Americans in this case, hardly ever get thanks to the racism in the Hollywood system.

    I wouldn't be surprised at this point if for the female roles they cast Asian actresses to act alongside the white male actors as potential love interests as Hollywood's way of thinking it's more diversity. In reality, it'll be another stereotyped blow of "Asian woman in the arms of White men". And I'd predict that this author would also defend that crap and fail to understand the whole rotten issue that all of this is.

  • Tamara | March 22, 2011 12:14 PMReply

    *looks at cast selection*

    :|

    ???

    http://colormehongkong.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/takeshi_kaneshiro_011.jpg

    *slams door on way out*

  • r | March 22, 2011 11:38 AMReply

    they're not aiming fanboys and that's why they're hopeful it'll make money. Fanboy movies always flop, cause there aren't many out there..

  • Mark | March 22, 2011 8:35 AMReply

    They're not aiming the movie at fanboys.... so this will probbaly make about $10 at the box office.

    Hollywood is creatively bankrupt. No surprise when it's run by a bunch of thirtysomething tools.

  • Edward Davis | March 22, 2011 8:16 AMReply

    translations today: MAD! MAD! MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD! MAD! OH MAN, HOPPING MAD!

  • Jack Burton | March 22, 2011 8:14 AMReply

    Since this unholy bastardization will never please me, I can only thank God this is a free country and I can just pretend it doesn't exist.

    The best thing about remakes is that they can never UNmake the original, so if it sucks you will always have that.

    And believe me. This. Will. Suck.

  • DangerDiabolik | March 22, 2011 7:38 AMReply

    turd epic fail, but mainly turd fail, but an obnoxiously large one. i hate everything to do with this project. stop reporting on it, you're giving it too much credit.

  • mizmlee | March 22, 2011 7:37 AMReply

    This whole situation and the the way this article writer dismisses the issue of white washing is rage worthy.

    I want this to be boycotted and flop in theaters so hard.

  • ballsy | March 22, 2011 7:01 AMReply

    A line of the palest faces they could find to play Japanese characters. What a fantastic idea. I was just thinking the other day, gee why not take an Asian cartoon but hire only White actors. Why didn't anybody else think about this sooner. I can see this being a HUGE hit, HUGE hit. Ha ha ha..

  • Alejandro THEN | March 22, 2011 6:15 AMReply

    @yes, I said it

    I see what you're trying to say...
    But Japan, isn't a multi-cultural country.

    Casting Asian actors in your proposed Japanese Cinema adaptation of Captain America would be appropriate.

    But seemingly only casting Caucasian actors for an adaptation of fine* art from another culture without at least trying to earnestly infuse ethnicity representative of our country's inherent multinationalism, ESPECIALLY WHEN the film's most Intrinsic characters, aren't necessarily sessile characterizations that can only be played as a part of a systemic and particular undertaking.. is flat out

    intolerance.

  • hymnia | March 22, 2011 6:09 AMReply

    I really don't understand why they can't cast unknown actors in the 18-22 age range and include some actors of color as an homage to the source material. If the source material is good and the writing and directing is good, they DON'T need big name stars to make the movie. Look at Harry Potter--they cast unknowns kids in the lead roles and now those kids are stars. Take a chance and make some new stars, Hollywood, instead of always going back to the same tired choices. Liven things up a little! I love James McAvoy and I like several of the other actors on the list, but they have plenty of opportunities out there for starring roles without taking roles that would be more suited for actors of color, who get far fewer opportunities.

  • mizmlee | March 22, 2011 5:52 AMReply

    "Now there is definitely going to be a cry that the material has been whitewashed, but the the film has been 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). Still, die hard fans will definitely not be pleased, but in the studio’s defense, this project was never for that core fanbase anyway. It’s been made apparent that WB is looking for a more marketable film than the anime classic and that’s what they’re going to deliver."


    Read that paragraph again, and tell how is that not dismissing the issue of whitewashing? The film has been relocated to a New Manhattan where apparently Asians do not exist there anymore? Last I checked, New York is a very diverse place. This project is not intended for the core fanbase, but they're trying to keep true to the essence of the original by keeping all the names Japanese? And white men in their 30s are going to portray Japanese teenagers?

    And that last sentence implies Asian people are not marketable to an America made up of immigrants and people of color, but Hollywood has always insisted that America = Caucasian.

  • Marko | March 22, 2011 5:47 AMReply

    So wait. They haven't approached Alex Pettyfer about this?

  • Trent. | March 22, 2011 5:45 AMReply

    At least they could pretended they were interested in casting Asian actors.

  • Jamie | March 22, 2011 5:40 AMReply

    I'm all for going non white in tentpole films, but I'm having trouble thinking of big names of asian origin for these roles.

    How bout John Cho? Ken Leung? James Kyson Lee?

    Or that kid from Twilight? JUstin Chon?

    Isn't Kenneth Choi in Captain America?

  • Sid | March 22, 2011 5:33 AMReply

    If this gets made, I hope it flops worse than Mars Needs Moms.

  • marcus | March 22, 2011 5:29 AMReply

    Fassbender's head is creeping me out in that pic.

    Um, on topic? I'm not sure this is a smart move for any of these guys. There's going to be crazy backlash for any of these choices. But acting-wise, I think they'd all do fine, with the exception of Timberlake.

  • Mony | March 22, 2011 4:51 AMReply

    Um Pattinson - definately out, Garfield - out Timberlake - definitely out. No to Pine as well
    Phoenix - are they serious?isn't he too old.

    Why are they looking at people who already did a franchise or in the process of doing one like Pattinson and Garfield?

    Truthfull I don't like none of these choices. I don't see why they can't have an Asian actor

    Thank God my favourite anime isn't being looked at to be Americanized.

  • Paul | March 22, 2011 4:39 AMReply

    Do we really need updates like this?

    I mean "Oh, for AKIRA WB is looking to cast any of the current Top Leading White Male Actors between the ages of 16-40!"

    It's not really news. It's just kinda stating the obvious.

    I promise when it comes time to cast the female lead WB will be looking at every leading white actress between the ages of 16-35

  • Kevin Klawitter | March 22, 2011 4:32 AMReply

    I say if the Japanese can do their own versions of King Lear and Macbeth, Americans can jolly well do their own adaptation of Akira. Especially when there's already an excellent Japanese version of it out there already.

  • iamalien | March 22, 2011 4:27 AMReply

    Asians don't sell in Hollywood unless it's the part of a sexy woman or a buffoon. This is The Departed and Internal Affairs all over again. The Japanese shouldnt have sold it to an American studio if they wanted the actors to stay Asian. Get real.

  • Puaena | March 22, 2011 4:20 AMReply

    This is beyond white wash. This is beyond freaking The Last Airbender fiasco. This is downright insulting.

    And I like most of those actors. But really, they couldn't find one Asian actor to send the script to? Not one? I mean, they found enough actors from the UK to send the damn script to but not ONE ACTOR OF ASIAN DESCENT?

    Thanks, Hollywood. We get it. No one but white actors and actresses need apply.

  • kline03 | March 22, 2011 4:14 AMReply

    Robert Pattinson. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. Only if their aim is a Golden Raspberry. They do want men to see this movie right.

  • Kevin Jagernauth | March 22, 2011 4:13 AMReply

    I guess I should clarify -- "as right as possible" for the mainstream direction they're going in.

  • banKsy | March 22, 2011 4:12 AMReply

    "... they are trying to get it as right as possible..."

    Then you say,

    "Now there is definitely going to be a cry that the material has been whitewashed... Still, die hard fans will definitely not be pleased..."

    ... See what you did there?

  • Edward Davis | March 22, 2011 4:06 AMReply

    It's been in development for a while, but there's been all of 11 writers on this project so far, unreal.

  • KT | March 22, 2011 4:03 AMReply

    Too much fail... can't... quite...

  • Jennifer | March 22, 2011 3:20 AMReply

    They couldn't find a whiter bunch of actors if they tried. I know Hollywood is one of the most racist places in America, but it just seems like they're trying to be as offensive as possible. There seriously isn't any young actor in Hollywood who's got even a hint of non-Caucasian blood in them? Really?

  • yes, I said it | March 22, 2011 3:18 AMReply

    This is comparable to Japan adapting Captain America and casting nothing but Asian actors.

  • Puaena | March 22, 2011 3:03 AMReply

    "A Fistful of Dollars" was made in a different time but at least they changed the name and the characters. It wasn't a remake but an 'inspired by'. Just as Throne of Blood & Ran were adapted from Shakespeare but put in a specific historical Japanese context.

    But apparently, WB is keeping the name "Akira" and the names of the characters even tho they are moving it to New Manhattan. By keeping the title & character names & supposedly adhering to the manga's storyline (manga, not anime), there is some indication that the context is supposedly still Otomo's story.

    Yet, even if they move it to Manhattan, you can't tell me that only white guys live there. Last I saw, Manhattan was fairly diverse in its ethnic makeup.

    And if the film(s) will be adhering closely to the manga, why are the actors all older guys? Tetsuo and Kaneda are teenagers at the beginning of the manga?

    I get that there will be changes in any book-to-film adaptation, but they could at least have tried to find one Asian actor to send the script to for one of the parts. Or maybe an African-American actor. Or Hispanic. Or anyone but just white guys.

    Or how about one actor who looks young enough to be a teenager.

    I mean, what's next? Justin Bieber for the part of Akira? Relative to all these guys, he is practically a child.

  • Kevin Klawitter | March 22, 2011 1:22 AMReply

    The writer is not "dimissing" the whitewashing... he's pointing out that due to the nature of the plot, it ISN'T whitewashing any more than "A Fistful of Dollars" was a whitewashing of "Yojimbo"

  • marcus | March 22, 2011 1:21 AMReply

    No kidding. I love when the fanboys get all put upon if they're not being catered to. If they had nearly as much power as they think they do, Eclipse and Scott Pilgrim's box office grosses would be flipped.

    The race issue is a legitimate complaint. Whining about popular actors who fanboys happen to hate making short lists, is not.

Email Updates