Despite all the protests from anime purists and some heavy lifters in the genre like George Takei, Warner Bros. is pushing forward with its live-action version of “Akira.” And despite its origins from Japan, Asian actors aren’t even being considered.
The latest reports have Kristen Stewart, who is making millions of dollars as you read this in the latest Twilight film, taking on the role of Ky Reed, while Garret Hedlund from “Tron: Legacy” is already attached to motorcycle gang leader Kaneda.
So attention is now being focused on Kaneda’s brother, Tetsuo, whose super kinetic powers is called upon to battle Akira himself, who had destroyed Tokyo some 30 years earlier.
Among those testing for the role, according to The Hollywood Reporter, are D.J. Cotrona, Logan Marshal Green, Toby Kebbell, Richard Madden, Rami Malek and Michael Pitt. Cotrona played Det. John Stone in the short-lived ABC series “Detroit 1-8-7,” and will play Flint in the upcoming “G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation.” Green had a short stint on “24” as Richard Heller, and recently wrapped up filming on Ridley Scott’s “Promotheus,” which was written by “Lost’s” Damon Lindelof.
Kebbell played Garsiv in last year’s “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” as well as Drake Stone in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” He recently finished filming a role as Agenor in “Clash of the Titans 2,” which is set to be released next year.
Madden is probably best known for his role as Robb Stark in the runaway HBO success “Game of Thrones.” Malek played Kenny in the short-lived series “The War at Home,” but also appeared in “24” and “The Pacific.” He also plays Benjamin in “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2.”
Pitt, of course, is a familiar face to movie and television fans, most recently playing Jimmy Darmody in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”
That doesn’t even include Paul Dano and Alden Ehrenreich, who have been called back for more screen tests, according to the trade publication.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra seems adamant to keep this production going, although it seemed to have been declared dead more than once. Based on the popular 1988 anime film, it has come under tremendous fire, especially because of its attempts to Anglicize the cast. Many have pushed for Asian actors to play roles that were created for Asians.
Warner Bros., however, has stayed true to its path to keep Asians out of the primary cast, which could create a backlash against the film if and when it’s finally released.