A couple of years ago, there was a massive wave of anime movies and series being optioned for live action remakes by various Hollywood studios, from Ghost in the Shell to Cowboy Bebop to Satoshi Kon’s Paprika. Since then none of these projects have really moved beyond the script stage (perhaps due to the poor reception of both Dragonball and Speed Racer) with the exception of one: Akira. The Hughes Brothers (The Book of Eli) signed on to direct for Warner Brothers last year, and they’ve been in search of a big name actor for the lead role ever since. Now it is being reported that Keanu Reeves is in talks to play Kaneda, and something tells me that fans will not be particularly happy about this.
There was a public outcry from fans a few months back when it was revealed that the shortlist of actors being considered for the lead role in Akira were all white. This was once again fueled by the folks over at Racebending.com, the same people who denounced the casting of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender. Would someone like Reeves appease detractors considering that he is of Chinese and Hawaiian descent?
The rumours makes a lot of sense as he was also reportedly up for the lead in the live action Cowboy Bebop movie at one point, and he has some geek cred due to The Matrix. Unfortunately he doesn’t get a lot of respect these days. The problem is that the movie’s budget is reportedly skyrocketing (now up to $230 million) and they need a big star to guarantee a return (Vulture reports that they were also pursuing Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling). What do you think, would Keanu be an acceptable choice, or is this another bad sign for this live action anime adaptation?