Garrett Hedlund In Talks to Play ‘Akira’ Lead

Published 3 years ago by , Updated August 2nd, 2013 at 9:39 am,


Many fans of the Japanese manga-turned-anime Akira were glad when Warner Bros.’ planned adaptation of the cult-classic sci-fi tale hit a wall. However, since losing both The Hughes Brothers (Book of Eli) as directors and Keanu Reeves as a potential star, WB’s Akira has pushed ahead into production under the guidance of Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra.

Rumors about who will star in Akira‘s two key leading roles – that of biker gang leader Kaneda and biker-turned-psychic-powerhouse, Tetsuo – have been running rampant for some time. Today, however, we learn that one of those roles is close to being filled.

We previously reported that TRON: Legacy star Garrett Hedlund (who has been on WB’s shortlist for Akira for some time) was the frontrunner for the role of Kaneda, and now Variety reports that the young actor is currently in talks with the studio to seal the deal. It will likely be a short wait before we hear Hedlund officially confirmed for the role.

Akira takes place in a future where society is in a state of upheaval, while a militaristic government tries to keep anarchy from erupting. On the lower end of the societal hierarchy, rival biker gangs battle for supremacy of the streets. When Kaneda’s friend Tetsuo is injured in a bike crash, he becomes the focus of government experiments in which his psychic abilities are unleashed, turning the shy and downtrodden Tetsuo into a wrathful force of nature.

Hedlund is about as believable a Kaneda as any young Hollywood actor, and even has an ‘anime look’ to his features, if such a thing even exists. It won’t be a disaster if he indeed lands the role, but the question then becomes: who would be a fitting Tetsuo to play against him?

WB’s shortlist of actors for Akira has included names like Andrew Garfield, James McAvoy, and Robert Pattinson for the role of Tetsuo. All of those guys are now bigger stars than they were a year or two ago, but therein lies the issue: they may be too big (or too busy) to take on this kind of role. There’s also the issue that all three of them could likely overpower Hedlund in terms of acting skill (yes, even Pattinson).

After watching the recent 21 Jump Street trailer, one crazy idea could be to take a look at James Franco’s younger brother, Dave Franco, who plays the villain role in the Jump Street movie. While we can’t yet vouch for the kid’s acting ability (aside from brief appearances in films like Superbad and Fright Night), there is just something about him that seems like he’d A) Be able to handle the arc of Tetsuo from shy boy to mad-god, and B) would be a good onscreen foil for Hedlund. Just a few thoughts to mull over.

Gary Oldman and Helena Bonham Carter have already been approached to co-star in Akira, and their inclusion would definitely give this project some sorely needed cred – more so than Hedlund’s casting. After all, there are still a LOT of people who don’t want to see this movie get made in the first place.

Akira is currently in development – as always, we’ll keep you up to date on what…develops.

Source: Variety


TAGS: Akira
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  1. Sigh

  2. Who the F@#K is Dave Franco? Please don’t tell me he’s related to James Franco.

    Again, hollywood fails to impress people in anime adaptions. Please just stop thinking unless you actually watched Akira.

    WB Exc: Oh, Garrett Hedlund was awesome on Tron Legacy movie and he looked cool on his bike so let’s give him the part. Done! ($50,0000 – decision)

    If you are Asian and you have a lot of anger towards this disaster of a adaption of a cult classic anime, please don’t hesitate in sending your hate mail to Warner Brother Studios.

    In the anime, theses are Asian teenage biker gang kids and not white American late 20′s men trying to look younger.

    Kaneda and Tetsuo are about 17 years old. Garrett H is 10 years older.

    • Yea.. yea we are all expecting for this to be terrible but penning down the fact the actor 10 years older then the character then who he plays is not a very valid aguement. People who are in there mid to late 20 has always played high aged kids.

      Now i never seen the anime (Might because of this news) but there is a found footage movie coming out next year of wich I keep hearing has a related plot that is going to put this live action adaption failure in the works in it’s place. At least the fact the white aguement here is more valid then the same aguement about Dragon ball evaluation. (Goku is noy even human man)

    • Of course Dave Franco is related to James Franco. He’s his brother. As if anyone needed any, it’s just more proof that nepotism runs amok in Hollywood.

  3. ^^^

  4. I hope the movie flops. I cant see what was the problem with casting an Asian.

    • I feel the same exact way.

      I also hope the two other whitewash jobs that Warner Bros. has coming out flop, and flop hard.

      The executives at Warner Bros. are just racists perpetuating the status quo. The one in fine print that says white actors must predominantly be the leads in Hollywood movies, even when movies call for Asian characters.

  5. Doesn’t matter, unless they actually make the story make some sense, this will suck anyway… You guys can keep your jap anime…

    • Are you born racist, or do you have to work hard at it?

    • Yeesh. Why did you even bother to comment?

  6. Well, I think when they switched the seeting from “Neo Tokoyo” to “Neo Manhattan” that kind of killed the feasability of having an all-Asian cast, no?

    • they can still cast a young unknown Asian-American actor to play the lead role

      • Not really, because this is an Americanized version of Akira. Much like The Departed was the Americanized version of Infernal Affairs. Provided they don’t change the name, I’m sure Akira will still be an asian actor, though.

        • Hedlund and the other white lead they get will be playing Japanese characters, which is ridiculous. They’re not even going to change the names Tetsuo and Kaneda. I wonder if they’re also going to put “Asian eye” prosthetics on their faces, put them in full-on yellowface.

          Maybe they can get some “fu manchu” mustaches on discount at costume stores now that Halloween has just ended.

          • Yeah odd that they would keep the original character names when they’re westernising everything else.

            • I thought I read that they were changing the names to “Ken” and “Travis”!?

    • I thought so, Im looking forward to this adaptation just to see how things turn out. Cautiously optimistic.

    • I bet the story follows that Hedlund’s character was adopted by a Japanese family, and is given the name Kaneda. Just a thought.

  7. Jap anime. Hmm. Redundant and classy.

    In any case, its Neo-Tokyo, not Neo-Manhattan for crying out loud. Its not adaption if you slice and dice the original cannon for no other purpose except to Anglicize it for American taste. By the time they butcher this classic, it won’t look like the original and definitely won’t be worth watch. Hopefully they won’t call it Akira.

    That would be an insult.

  8. Hope the studio burns down and prevents this from being made. That said a few months ago when Keanu Reeves was rumored to be in this movie someone on this site posted a link to a fan made trailer of Akira, it was the best I’ve seen but never found it again in the archives or on youtube, wondering if that person would repost that link, lol. Thanks regardless.

  9. Kaneda is a weird name, a cyber-punk white kid could pull that off. As for Tetsuo(a traditional Japanese name) I would live to see Henry Shum Jr. get this part! He’s the Asian actor on GLEE. Don’t ride him off quite yet due to his resume, this kid looks and has the action chops down! Watch a video called 3 Minutes on YouTube. It’s a short action film he made with some buddies. It’s bad ass!

    • I have to disagree. Kaneda is not a weird name. It’s obviously Japanese, so no, a cyber-punk white kid could not pull it off. Besides, Hollywood and particularly Warner Bros. as of late doesn’t matter if a name is undeniably Japanese or not in look and sound, they’re going to whitewash it up and down, and all around.

      They’re racist in that they refuse to give an Asian-American actor a chance at a lead role… even in a movie that cries out for one.

      Hollywood always gives completely unknown white actors chance after chance, even after a string of flops. But an Asian-American actor can’t even get taken seriously at a casting call, even if for a character named Tetsuo or Kaneda.

    • “Kaneda” is actually the character’s surname. In japan your surname goes first followed by your given name. “Kaneda’s” first name is actually “Shotaro”.

  10. all i can say is if it that sparkly bastard is chosen the movie will BLOW!!

  11. as a young black man…I share all the asian posters sentiment. Heck black people had to start our own production companies in order to make movies in Hollywood.

    • I think they will go one of two ways with this problem, well maybe three. In order of likelihood:

      1. They’ll change the title of the movie ala ‘La Jetée.’
      2. They’ll change the meaning of the word Akira from a person to a concept or something.
      3. They’ll briefly tell Akira’s back story and keep him Asian. They’ll do this as a half-hearted way to appease the critical fans and keep the name recognition, figuring this will piqué curiosity even among a grumbling majority of those in the know.

      It doesn’t matter if some of the audience hates it as long as they see it, if for no other reason than to hate on it more intelligently. Controversy might actually work in its favor, especially if it turns out entertaining, possibly turning on the fence doubters into believers. The last trick I can think of is to keep the budget modest and take the pressure away to create a blockbuster. You know in a twist of irony a year after its released the only people that will be mentioning it will be those of us that hate it, most likely to compare to something we more recently hate…

  12. Americanizing Akira is more of an homage than an insult. Yeah an Akira film taking place in Tokyo with all japanese actors speaking japanese would be awesome but expecting that from a US studio is just stupid.

  13. Please ban this tw*t. Bloody spammer.

    • Sorry, that was a bit harsh. I wasn’t being personal, I just can’t tolerate spam clogging up a thread.

  14. This is complete BS!! Why can’t an Asian be cast in the roles of Tetsuo and Kaneda!?!? I don’t think Hedlund has an “anime look” to him. And just because he rode on some stupid motocycle in his previous film does not automatically qualify him to do the same thing in this film!

  15. I absolutely adore Garrett Hedlund. Finally an American actor who is goregeous AND can actually act.

    However, I don’t like that they’re not only Americanizing Akira, they’re white-washing it. I mean, if all the best actors they find are white, good, go ahead, but people shuold look everywhere, not just at white actors.

    I’m not sure if I should hope for it to be good. On one hand, I want Garrett Hedlund to do well. On the other, I want this trend of white-washing and Americanizing to stop.

  16. Just stop seriously just stop hollywood!
    You ruin nearly every japanese anime you get your hands on, DRAGONBALL!
    Leave anime alone, PLEASE!
    Poor choice of actors poor choice of director poor choice of hollywood to try & make a live action film of something they’re aren’t fans of.
    Leave anime alone & stick to remakes good u.s. movies badly.