Keanu Reeves in Talks for Live Action Akira Remake

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, 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?

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  • djangoscud

    Luckily it will never be made. Between the costs, rewrites, and casting issues this will die off soon enough. There is also no way that the general public will watch anything called “Akira” and the fans will only watch out of morbid curiosity via bit torrent.

  • fatbologna

    Uhhh, weren’t all the main characters in Akira TEENAGERS!!!!? Nice to know they’re on the right track from the get-go. The original movie was barely cohesive compared to the books so it’ll be interesting to see just how badly they mangle it with this.

  • Daemon

    Too old…

  • Gil

    First; stop drawing your Asian characters like white people.
    And second; they were all teenagers…

  • krudsma

    I would absolutely spend $10 to see a live action Akira. Shame that it will probably never happen.

  • Chris

    @Gil I would argue that the kids from Akira look more Asian than a lot of anime.

  • HerlyGirl

    Keanu Reeves is lame… not a fan of his acting abilities. Still think he was the worst actor in all the Matrix movies (mind you The Matrix is one of my all time favs!) I do not see Keanu as being an A-list actor anymore.. They should find someone who can actually act if they really want to make this work.

  • Gil

    @Chris They sometimes look Asian, sometimes not so much. Not to sound like a prick but, Colonel Shikishima only looks Asian when his eyes are closed; he definitely looks “white”. The same with the zany-looking scientist.
    This is just to argue the point that I could care less if this live action adaptation is American or Japanese.

    Keanu can have a smaller role though, like the guy who tries to help #26 escape and gets shot to pieces at the beginning. He would be awesome for that role.

  • mark

    :@!!! i really hope this never gets made. kaneada’s a teenager. what the hell are they thinking? please don’t make me violently sabotage this production.

  • david

    akira was only so so at best. cowboy bebop would be a better choice. Or maybe a Lupin the 3rd would be better.

  • astute

    I’d love Keanu as Spike in a Cowboy Bebop. That would come easy to him as a role. Cant think of a better fitting actor.