Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to Star in Live Action Akira Remake?

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Oddly enough, when I was writing yesterday about the Wachowski Bros possibly doing a live action remake of Ninja Scroll, and the fact that several other live action anime projects are also in the works around Hollywood, I totally forgot about the previously announced adaptation of the seminal sci-fi anime film Akira, which is being directed by Ruairi Robinson. Today some news has come out about the project that is pretty damn exciting in my opinion.

First of all, the official word is that Leonardo DiCaprio will be producing the film under his Appian Way banner, but there are a lot of strong rumours indicating that DiCaprio will also star in the lead role as Kaneda. I know a lot of people still see DiCaprio as nothing more than a pretty boy heart-throb from back in the days of Titanic and Romeo + Juliet, but I think he is a fantastic actor, and his involvement alone would be enough to sell me on it. However, that’s not the only casting announcement we have to give today. Ain’t It Cool News claims that Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick, The Lookout) has been cast as Tetsuo in the film as well. If there’s any young actor out there with the chops to pull off this role, it’s gotta be him. Needless to say, this just jumped up on my list of anticipated movies for next year.

The other interesting announcement is that they are actually doing two Akira movies, not just one. It seems like this is the order of the day now that Peter Jackson has decided to do two movies based on The Hobbit. Well at least, they’re not trying to stretch everything into a trilogy anymore, and with the manga to draw from, I’m sure there’s plenty more to flesh out the story. The first Akira flick will be released sometime in summer 2009. Are you looking forward to this?



  • JGL as Tetsuo is fantastic but I always like to hear that guy being cast in movies. So far he’s got a good track record for picking projects (except for GI JOE supposedly).

    I think people stopped associating Dicaprio with his teen heart throb days. He’s made three Scorcese films, I think we can assume he’s graduated to legitimate actor status. Growing Pains was a long time ago.

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  • Liz

    I can’t say this desperately interests me, but since I’ll see just about anything with Leo in it, I’ll be seeing it.

    And I agree with Rusty James that working with Scorsese will go a long way towards shedding any kind of shiny teeny-bopper image you might have had in your youth. I can’t think of anyone whose status hasn’t improved after working with Scorsese.

  • @”I can’t think of anyone whose status hasn’t improved after working with Scorsese.”

    well, there’s Jesus.

  • In my opinion Akira already exists in the perfect format for the material in comic book form. There’s no denying that the Anime is incredible (and it is indeed one of my favorite animated films of all time), but it left so much of the great story from the comics out in order to achieve a “normal” running time.

    As the story of Akira has already been told successfully in two separate mediums, it seems to me that it will be difficult for the live-action filmmakers to strike gold for the third time with this property. However, JGL is probably as close to perfect casting as you can get for the role of Tetsuo, and DiCaprio has proven to me in recent years that he’s capable of pulling off just about any character that he can think of. Aside from Leo’s hair color, I love both of these casting choices.

    Unfortunately, I’m not so excited about the director who, if I have my facts straight, has only ever directed commercials and animated short films, or the fact that the movie is supposedly being planned to take place in New York instead of Tokyo. I like the two-part approach as it will hopefully allow for this incarnation of the story to stick closer to the source material than the anime did, but until I see some footage I shall remain skeptical.

  • Ian

    I’m excited about Levitt. This will be an interesting experiment but I hope doing live action anime shows doesn’t become too big. I guess it will all depend on how well DBZ does.

  • lacey

    ughh where to begin?

    when i first heard that akira was being made into a live-action film i was ecstatic…until i heard the words “starring leonardo dicaprio” …….. are you serious? i dont doubt his acting skills, he frickin killed in some of his later movies, but the fact is that i just cant imagine him playing kaneda. JGL as tetsuo was a good call, but i still have to say that this movie would be better off starring japanese actors who can actually pronounce the names. good luck to dicaprio on this movie, i hope another story isnt slaughtered by a crappy live-action film… its gonna be hard to follow the manga and anime, both of which were pretty awesome.

  • Ryan

    I’m new to filmjunk and I wanted to e-mail to rant about this project (which may be the worst adaptation idea ever). The #1 problem here is setting. New Manhattan? How can Leo be Kaneda? He’s a fucking american. What will his name be…Ken? The anime and manga is original for many reasons including the fact that the characters actually look japanese. Any other manga/anime would be fair game other than this one. The casting would alienate the installed fanbase right off the bat.

    I’ll go see it considering the fact that I believe AKIRA is the best animated film of all time, but I’ll buy tickets for something else and sneak in. I don’t want to see this bastardization do well at the box office.

  • Hey Ryan, I think the bottom line is that they need a star to sell the film, and there aren’t many Japanese actors that are big enough names to carry it. It may seem wrong to hardcore fans, but it’s just business.

  • Kevin

    Why are white people being cast for the roles of japanese characters? This is ridiculous!

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  • ken