The last time we mentioned The Hughes Brothers’ PG-13 (WTF?), two-film adaptation of the first three volumes of Akira, they were trying to cast a cavalcade of white boys as the two Asian teenage leads Kaneda and Tetsuo. At that time, they had reportedly offered the Kaneda role to Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake, and Joaquin Phoenix, and they were rumored to be seeking Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, or James McAvoy to play Tetsuo. This is why we can’t have nice things.
Warner may have noticed there was more complaining than usual about the stupid, stupid casting rumors, because now they’ve reportedly offered the Kaneda role to someone who at least isn’t completely white:
Reports have surfaced—with bits of info pulled together from Vulture and THR; each has info the other doesn’t—that much older and partially Asian dude Keanu Reeves is in early talks to take the role of Kaneda in the film. With a budget said to be in the neighborhood of $230 million, this pic would need to be a megasized hit to make back its coin. Apparently both Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling were offered and passed on the part, but frankly, we don’t see either of them really being interested in the first place. [ThePlaylist]
No word on if that $230 million is for both PG-13 (ugh) movies or just one of them, but at this point I’d be surprised if this ever gets out of development hell. When they’re this set on casting white, older guys to play Asian teenagers in an R-rated storyline, they’re going to have a hard time getting $230 million in backing for their whitewashed, PG-13 movie that is still somehow titled Akira. On the other hand, with Keanu Reeves involved, we can look forward to the intense scene where he shoots his gun into the air and yells, “Tetsuoooo!”