The Death Note English film adaptation is a project that is a long time coming. First announced back in 2011, little was known about this live-action feature – at one point attached to writer and director Shane Black – that appeared to be stuck in development hell back at Warner Bros. Pictures. Ever since the rights to the adaptation of the fan-favorite manga and anime signed over to Netflix, however, news concerning the Adam Wingard-directed film has been released slowly but surely.
It was first announced that Paper Towns star Nat Wolff would be portraying the role of the intelligent yet troubled serial killer Light, aka Kira, and soon after it was reported that Margaret Qualley (The Nice Guys, The Leftovers) will be playing the part of Light's cohort and love interest Mia Sutton (based upon the character of Misa Amane from the manga). We also now know that Straight Outta Compton and Short Term 12 actor Keith Stanfield is tackling the role of L, the brilliant detective tasked with bringing Kira to justice. Still, fans were still curious as to who will be playing fan-favorite character Ryuk. It now appears as though they have their answer.
Mashable has recently reported that the Academy Award-nominated actor Willem Dafoe will be voicing the character of Ryuk the Shinigami (the Japanese word for "god of death") in Adam Wingard's Death Note. Currently on the set of highly anticipated comic book movie Justice League, Dafoe has just closed the deal to join this upcoming adaptation which is also now filming.
Dafoe is certainly no stranger to voice acting as he has been attached to films such as Finding Nemo and Fantastic Mr. Fox most notably. Additionally, while the 61-year-old actor is a two-time Oscar-nominee, Dafoe does carry serious nerd cred with roles in films like Sam Raimi's Spider-Man and now the aforementioned Justice League movie.
It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how a Shinigami will fit into this Western adaptation of Death Note. Shinigamis, aka gods of death, are perhaps the one aspect of the manga that truly is specific to Eastern folklore. That being said, from what we have already heard of the project, it does not appear that Adam Wingard and company are afraid to make changes when they deem it necessary.
The addition of a talent like Willem Dafoe has to be viewed as a win for fans of the franchise. The Hollywood veteran has had plenty of experience in voice acting roles, and he is truly a credit to each and every set he steps foot on.
Death Note is slated for release on Netflix sometime in 2017.