Though Warners is likely hoping that the big problems of getting classic anime Akira converted to a live-action version and up on screen are now behind it, the issues bringing the film to life haven’t quite gone away. Despite being offered the role of a colonel in the film recently, it would seem that Gary Oldman hasn’t locked in a deal, so the studio is now kicking off negotiations with Inception’s Ken Watanabe instead.
As of right now, all this must stay strictly in the rumour section as Watanabe is nowhere near a deal and there’s always a chance Oldman could return – or play a different part. And it's typical of the sort of early deal-making (and passing) that happens when a big film such as this is being put together.
But Watanabe is a fine replacement for the part – he’s got recognition factor from the likes of Chris Nolan’s work and The Last Samurai and he’s a proven actor. And he's also Japanese, which makes a pleasant change from the all-caucasian casting policy for the lead roles so far.
Akira follows bike gang leader Kaneda (Garrett Hedlund) as he deals with what happens when his best friend Tetsuo is used in a government experiment to exploit his powerful latent psychic abilities. The result? City-threatening chaos.
So far, Hedlund appears to be the only actor with a solid deal, though Helena Bonham Carter and Kristen Stewart have both been offered roles.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra aims to start shooting in March.