Several sources are reporting Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire) has signed on for DreamWorks’ live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, although they can’t seem to agree entirely on his role. Both The Hollywood Reporter and The Tracking Board report he’s signed for the role of The Laughing Man, who was originally set to be played by Sam Riley.
The Laughing Man is a secondary villain (The Puppeteer is the big bad), an embittered hacker with a partially-robotic body. The character is from the more recent Ghost in the Shell television series, and THR describes this movie’s version as “a bad guy filtered through the lens of a street artist.” What, like Banksy? I guess Banksy could be a robot. We haven’t seen him.
Scarlett Johansson is already signed (for a reported $10 million) to play an Americanized version of Motoko Kusanagi, the leader of Section 9, a counter-cyberterrorist organization. People are of course complaining about the cast having so many white people, though, to be fair, this only got greenlit because Johansson’s name was attached, and Pilou Asbaek recently signed to play Batou, “the best fighter in the section and second in command in the army.”
Ghost in the Shell is likely to start production in New Zealand later this month, so we should know soon which character Pitt is playing. Deadline seems to be certain he wasn’t cast as the Laughing Man. Then again, they’re the same ones who posted some really vindictive rumors about Pitt that didn’t quite pass the sniff test.