Zac Efron Offered Lead Role In ‘Akira’

Published 5 years ago by , Updated August 9th, 2013 at 1:01 am,

It’s difficult to say who should play the role of Shōtarō Kaneda, a teenage delinquent and motorcycle gang leader, in the live-action adaptation of the 1988 Japanese animated feature, Akira. However, we feel quite certain that it’s not the star of the High School Musical movies.

Warner Bros. clearly disagrees and has – according to BD Horror News– offered the lead role (presumably, that of Kaneda) in the Hughes Brothers’ Akira adaptation to none other than 23-year-old heartthrob Zac Efron.

The original Akira was set in the neon-lit dystopian world of “New Tokyo,” a city under the control of a brutal, fascist government willing to murder ordinary citizens while it engaged in battle against domestic terrorists (rebels, in essence). When Tetsuo Shima, a member of Kaneda’s motorbike gang, is captured by the government and subjected to strange experimentation, he eventually develops incredible psychic powers that neither the authorities nor Tetsuo himself can control. Tetsuo’s sudden evolution echoes the fate of Akira, another psychic child prodigy who it turns out was responsible for the outbreak of World War III and the destruction of the original Tokyo.

Akira can very much be described as the Japanese equivalent of Watchmen in terms of its themes, tone, and graphic subject matter. Warner Bros.’ plans for Akira to be Rated PG-13 are absurd enough, but the idea of casting eye candy like Efron in the role of a hard-bitten, futuristic punk like Kaneda? We’ll put it in the simplest terms possible: no thanks.

akira imagen Zac Efron Offered Lead Role In Akira

We understand where Warner Bros. is coming from with this move: Akira is foremost an extremely violent, neo-Noirish tale that will require a significant production budget in order to fully realize its futuristic setting and sometimes surreal visuals on the big screen. The material has a solid cult following, but mainstream appeal is limited, even more so than it was for Watchmen, so clearly the studio hopes to reach out to a wider range of moviegoers by casting someone like Efron as the film’s protagonist.

The Hughes Brothers’ adaptation will take place in America and the film’s cast will be by and large populated by U.S. performers. We can only hope that Efron passes on the lead role in Akira and that Warner Bros. instead recruits an actor who looks to actually capture the essence of Kaneda’s character – as opposed to someone that (primarily) just appeals to the teenage demographic.

No word yet on when Akira will go into production or when it is slated to hit theaters. Stay tuned.

Source: BD Horror News

TAGS: Akira
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  1. I really had no pro lem with the Hughes Brothers directing this until I heard the PG-13 part and that this high school musical white-washed kid who probably never even saw the original till now, got cast. Epic FAIL! give this film to Tarantino and let him cast actual Asian actors.

    • @Sully WOAH!!! Awesome idea! I can see that! Now that would work!

    • Tarantino could do it but it’d be more solid if they paired him up with the best Japanese Director out there as a collaboration. They’d probably add at least one popular American actor though but Efron shouldn’t be the one especially not as Kaneda.

  2. This just furthers my belief that the only good Japanese Anime/Manga that will translate well into an American live-action movie is Battle Royale. Think about, a bunch of teenagers put on an abandoned island where only one of them can get off after he/she has killed everyone else? That would totally work out. Hollywood needs to stop hacking into stuff that they know they could horribly mess up and just stick with the easy stuff.

    Akira sounds like an R and Zac Effron is not a rated-R type actor

  3. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO! NO! NO!! NOnoNONONONOnonononononoNO!

  4. The funniest part of this is that you yourselves are guilty of the exact thing you are accusing Warner Bros. of, NOT casting Zac Efron because he is a teen heartthrob. Have you screen tested him? Do you even know if the kid can act? Reverse discrimination is the same thing as the original discrimination. Imagine if other heartthrobs had been treated this way, we never would have had Brad Pitt in Fight Club or Snatch. Geaorge Clooney never would have graduated from handyman in a sitcom to movies.

    I’m always looking for new actors that impress. So I say give the poor kid a chance. The movie is likely going to be garbage anyway. The last live action based on Anime that I saw was Fist of the North Star, and it stinks something fierce.

    • I underestimated Leonardo DiCaprio, yeah all the girls loved him, he was just another piece of eye candy to make the ladies hearts melt. But then I saw Inception and The Departed, DiCaprio was now…a man. And a very great actor.
      What you said I totally agree on. Effron has only ever done high school teen sort of films. He’s done nothing serious to actually judge him on.

      Akira is such a deep storyline, and now its americanized, it’s going to be hard to pull off, the magic of Akira was the asian culture fused with a cyberpunk mega city in my opionion.
      I’m not going to judge right away and say it’s going to be rubbish, but I would’ve prefered Chritopher Nolan to handle this.

  5. This movie will be no more “Akira” than “La Jetée” is “12 Monkeys! That’s what I think. If they are going to do it American style then they should just co-opt the story give it an American Sensibility and forget about naming it “Akira.” With all the spin doctors, ad men, and crafters on Hollywood payrolls it doesn’t make one lick of sense to try to keep the Asian sensibilities that makes the story uniquely “Akira.” They’re already rumored to be changing the city the story happens in, it therefore doesn’t make sense to just keep the general core story elements as was done in other adaptations like “The Ring” was of Nakata’s “Ringu.”

  6. I take it Justin Bieber is playing Akira.

  7. note to self ask the army to make a crysis armor be a badass then hunt down zac efron serously he can’t act he is overrated first he has a role as light yagami now this whats next naruto and hannah be sakura serously disney just keep making your crappy hsm

  8. Kaneda is supposed to be brash, good looking, arrogant, and loud spoken. I think Efron can definitely pull it off.

  9. 1. The main character MUST be asian
    2. EVERY character MUST be asian
    3. I pray WB reads these forums
    4. This movie needs either NC-17 or R

  10. Efrom would be an awesome Kaneda. Better he than some weird, twitchy teen actor or even worse, a dorky Asian.

  11. *Efron