Keanu Reeves In Talks For ‘Akira’ [Updated]

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 13th, 2013 at 9:20 pm,

[Update: Keanu Reeves has officially passed on the role of Kaneda in Akira. Read the updated report – HERE.]

The Hollywood Reporter is dropping the exclusive that Keanu Reeves is in early talks to join the cast of the Hughes Brothers’ (The Book of Eli) live-action adaptation of the classic manga-turned-anime film, Akira.

Word is that Reeves is being eyed for the headlining role of Kaneda, the leader of a futuristic biker gang who finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy involving his kidnapped best friend, government experiments, and dangerous psychic abilities.

Aside from some amusing name jokes (Keanu, Kaneda, Keanu, Kaneda) this news is likely to be as welcome amongst Akira fans as the news that Warner Bros. was making this movie in the first place. The project has had several positive upticks recently (relatively speaking), specifically when a shortlist of actors to play Kaneda – including names like Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Chris Pine (Star Trek) and Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) – hit the Web. At the very least, fans were able to say “Glad they’re not still considering Zac Effron,” which admittedly is a small grace, but an important one, nonetheless.

With Keanu, I’m sure the reaction won’t be positive. THR reports that WB wants Reeves attached to Akira in order to lure another big name actor to the pivotal role of Kaneda’s best friend / psychic powerhouse, Tetsuo. Previously rumored candidates to play Tetsuo include Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man), James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class) and Twilight’s Robert Pattinson. I’m not sure any of those names would be a proper fit against Reeves, though.

AKIRA movie by Hideyoshi Keanu Reeves In Talks For Akira [Updated]

Let me be clear: I’m not a Keanu Reeves hater. I like most everything in the action/sci-fi genres the guy has done, and I’m even looking forward to his starring turn in the samurai epic, 47 Ronin. That said: I do believe you have to be VERY careful how you use your Keanu. In the right role (characters who are stoic, robotic, detached, or zen-like), the guy is solid; but a role like Kaneda (as any fan of the anime film can tell you) requires someone who can emote, to say the least. I’m not sure that Keanu Reeves and emoting are two things that can even co-exist in the same time or place.

Right now, it’s being said that talks with Reeves’ reps are going well, so the guy may end up landing the gig. If he indeed does end up playing Kaneda, I can only guess at this point who the studio will select as Tetsuo – though I wouldn’t be mad if they went with James Franco for the role.

All I do know is: I’m still not happy that this movie is even being made.

We’ll keep you updated on the status of Akira and its cast.

Source: THR

TAGS: Akira
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  1. Isn’t he a lil bit too old to be playing a 15 year old?

    • This is my only problem with having Reeves play Kaneda. I like him, I really do, but he is a bit too old to be posing as a teenage biker.

  2. I can understand them wanting to cast a known actor, but Reeves? Seriously? His acting is the only thing more robotic than the machines in The Matrix. WB is doing a better job at making fun of the idea of this movie than anyone could possibly do.

  3. This makes me want to cry.

  4. The Hughes brothers (Albert and Allen) are partly Armenian. A lot of people don’t know that.

  5. This is looking more and more like a complete re-imagining of Akira. If it isn’t, then something is seriously, seriously wrong

  6. I can see him as Spike from cowboy bebop. He should just stick with that

  7. Reeves is very hit or miss. Since I am not an Akira fan I am not sure if he is a good choice for this role or not. What I do know is the premise sounds good and Keanu has done well in sci-fy rolls before. I will wait for more news.

    • He might be ok if he were a lot younger. It makes it sound like they are really changing the story since the characters are all supposed to be in their younger teens. If they change that, they might as well as Americanize it and make the names make more sense, so we don’t have to watch people call him Kaneda through the whole movie.

  8. Whoa Tetsuo, you just exploded into a bunch of wires n stuff…excellent.


  9. well since it’s not my money, I guess I shouldn’t worry about it, all I can do is go out and buy the original and not put any money in the pockets of these posuers. What’s next, Cowboy BeBop with the cast of Glee?

    • Haha, good one. They’ll sure put the BeBop badoopy-doop into the title. 😛

      I shouldn’t even be commenting no this. Next thing you know a Hollywood executive sees this, gets a BRILLIANT idea, and makes such a movie.

      • I meant, commenting ON this.

  10. ive nvr seen this animation.
    didn’t catch my attention. but i think there going for
    a years later type like the characters are older idk jus my guess.
    i personaly rather see ghost in the shell, battle angel, or Armitage film.
    i saw an episode of this animation &it reminded me of pokemon to goofy.

    • Rumors are that they are making a battle angel and ghost in a shell movie. One was steven spielberg and I can’t remember the other two directors. I think one was going to be by Leonardo Di Caprio’s production company (whose name also eludes me at the moment)

      • James Cameron is still planning to make Battle Angel, but after Avatar 2 and 3.

    • “i saw an episode of this animation &it reminded me of pokemon to goofy”
      Akira isnt a series, so im not sure you saw this and , it isnt anything like pokemon either, pretty sure you didnt see Akira.

      • @ “I saw an episode of this animation…” No, you haven’t, as Lobo said, Akira is an amazing story & animation created in the early eighties in comic book “manga” form. It was adapted to film in 1988 as one of the first Japanese animations to cross the ocean and truly speak to American fans.

        Pokemon is a lame Japanese version of dog-fighting and it has no place among serious anime.

  11. Being young, rebellious and stupid was such a major part of the storyline… why are they targeting older actors?

    • Beautiful comment, ah nothing says rebellious youth like a middle-aged mediocre actor.

  12. I was intrigued by the idea of this film- until I at long last sat down and watched the original. Now I’m pissed.

    • Good, now persuade your friends to not see it.

  13. Every bit of new information about this movie leads me to believe that the studio is trolling. Otherwise, this will quickly become another Dragon Ball Evolution. They cannot honestly believe any of this is a good idea.

  14. @ alex
    i knw but spielberg aint do it anymore wat i read for got well
    & james C. was going to do battle angel all in CGi
    but i doubt thats happening right now hes planning on TiTANiC 3D (waist of $$$)
    & after Avatar 2 so i doubt will c both projects being in production any time soon
    that sucks.

    & i still think them brothers from matrix are dumb for making a future robin hood movie
    with will smith. they should make ghost in the shell or battle angel they’d b perfect for that type of movies. but no they want a black NEO in the future instead.

  15. meant to say doing* & where*
    lol my mind is sumwhere else.

  16. If he gets the part this movie will go down hill

  17. Is someone playing a joke on us with all this AKIRA casting? OMG!!! It’s like orson welles is behind it, a’la war of the worlds, and he’s going one day rise from the grave and say, “GOTCHA!”

    Keanu should stick to Bill & Ted’s awesome adventure to the prostrate exam.

  18. Yeah, if your going to *#@?-up a Manga based movie let it be “Akira” Keanu instead of “Cowboy Bebop.”

    • Wow,never thought of a Cowboy Bebop movie,but Keanu would be a good choice for Spike.

      Question is,who’s gonna play Vash The Stampede for a Trigun movie? Think about that one.

      • Brad pit would have been perfect as Vash , think about it, perfect fit.
        Vash- Brad Pitt
        Meryl Stryfe – Maggie Q
        Milly Thompson- Charlize Theron
        Nicholas D. Wolfwood – Karl Urban

        • LOL, Vash, I read a comment on here about “knowing how to use your Keanu” and for characters who emote little, say little, are fairly stoic, and require very little acting or range Keanu is perfect. So I totally see him as Spike in Bebop. We need a good older actor in the role of Jet and a smoking hottie as Fay and bam we got us some BEBOP!

          • You know their’s a difference between live wood and dead wood right?

            I’m not a big fan of Keanu but have seen most of the movies he’s been in except the one with the bus. Anyway, I can’t think of a single instance where he delivered a memorable line of acerbic wit. Can any of you? Tell me. He doesn’t have the tools to deliver a good Spike character. Not that he wouldn’t try, It’s just the sum total of what he delivers on screen doesn’t equal the character of Spike. Having Keanu play Spike will dramatically change the tone of a Bebop movie and not for the better. Now Vicious I could seriously entertain that. Keanu plays so many heroes anyway why not a villain now and again…

      • well if you wanna do Trigun, I would humbly suggest

        Ryan Reynolds – Vash The Stampede

        He has a certain innocent manicness in his repertoire to pull this off, plus he’s got that lanky build, which was how the character was drawn

        keanu Reeves – Wormwood

        This fits his style, laconic, cool and little dialogue and you rarely see him emoting… chipes it writes itself

        Emma Stone – Meryl Strife

        She’s perfectly capable of doing competent femme with exasperated and put upon

        Aisha Tyler – Millie Thompson

        She handles comedy (check out her voice chops in Archer) and she’s a big attractive lady.

        Ben Affleck – Knives

        Probably time for Affleck to play a bad guy, he’s done the sidekick and tortured good guy stuff already, this would be a good time for him to rechannel his inner bad boy from Dazed and Confused.


  20. When there is a great director on set Keanu does a wonderful job. We have had the discussion before around the dinner table. A strong willed director always gets the best out of most actors

  21. I respect Keanu’s acting. His brand is to have his characters wear their heart on their sleeve. That is what made Speed and other such movies work. His character truly cared about these no name extras on the bus. He made the audience care about them. It ratchets up the tension and it’s why he excels in action movies. Being such a “bleeding heart” is a very “unmanly” trait, which I think causes a lot of dissonance with young male viewers, and results in a big blind spot in their perception/critique of Keanu. He has massive appeal to women, because he projects such an air of being emotionally wounded (see also Sad Keanu meme). This is also an “unmanly” trait. But women are helpless before the power of that. It’s the Florence Nightingale Syndrome on a huge scale.

    Having said that, I have a hard time figuring out why he, or any star would want to do this movie. There is a great likelihood that it will flop and do huge damage to a star’s career. My bigger question is why WB is so convinced that this movie will be a huge money-maker? Plenty of post-apocalyptic action movies have flopped. What is the hook here that makes them think this will be different and fuel their determination to carry this movie through and spend shocking amounts of money on it? Why are they so SURE of the success of this movie?

    • nice and probably some what true, but he is still a very stiff actor and is extremely over rated

  22. This would be great news, 20 some years ago. Right now, Keanu is wayyyyyyyytoo old for Kaneda.

    • I think most people are missing the fact that a 40 year old playing the part of a 19 year old is a little bit of a stretch, nevermind the racial difference. I am positive that no one in Hollywood has actally read the comics or watched the original Anime so this little detail has escaped their notice.

  23. I didn’t even read the article. Keanu as Kaneda is atrocious. A travesty. Won’t see it.

  24. Yeah too old. Can’t they find a good Japanese/American actor. An unknown for this would be good for a change Hollywood! Get one of the kids from Hunger Games. There’s plenty to choose from. Besides Keanu already had his Akira moment in the Matrix.

  25. Whitewashing aside (personally I don’t have much of a problem with it), they still need to cast someone young in the role. Kaneda’s supposed to be a teenager! You could probably, maybe, get away with aging him up to early-mid twenties, but any older is just out of the question.

    But you can’t cast a no-name actor in the lead role of a big-budget film unless the franchise name can carry itself. Here in the west, at least, Akira can’t. Either we get stuck with an actor whose way too old in the role, or we get stuck with one of those pretty-boy teen idols.

    Honestly, I think its impossible to cast the role in any way that’s both respectable to the source material AND financially viable.

  26. Ummmm…the movie was about teenage angst in a post-apocalyptic Japan. Now it is about a washed up over 40 actor in New York?

    Sweet. I guess this will be another movie I will avoid that I wanted to see.

  27. Well if he can emote, it’ll be a winner, I just hope he puts in everything into the role, on a side note Keanu is immortal and living so long is what makes sad.

  28. How about Taylor Laughtner or whatever from Twilight?

    • Are you on drugs?! I’m pretty sure WB would like a male audience to show up for this movie, instead of avoid it like the plague.