The live-action adaptation of the manga/anime Akira has apparently sunk back into development hell. The movie was beginning to move into pre-production after having cast Garrett Hedlund as Kaneda, and Warner Bros. was in various stages of negotiations with Kristen Stewart, Gary Oldman, and Helena Bonham Carter. The studio was also trying to find the film’s other male lead to play Tetsuo. Wrath of the Titans actor Toby Kebbell was one of the actors being considered, and he was excited for the chance to play the part until he read the script.
Hit the jump for what Kebbell, a fan of the original manga and anime, had to say about Warners’ take on the story.
“They were like, ‘This is going to be a big franchise!’” he explained. “So I said, ‘Then in that case, understand that I’ve read the comics, and I’ve read the comics that got turned into the annuals, and then the annuals that got turned into the one-off anime. So if you really want to do it, then why don’t you look at the six comics and just put two into each film?’”
But the studio wanted to use the anime (which was based on the manga) as the basis for the live-action adaptation:
“They were like, ‘Welllll…’” he shrugged. “So I told them, ‘Then this is a remake [of the animated movie], and I don’t want to do a live-action remake of the cartoon, because [the cartoon] is perfect and you’re not going to do it dark enough — so therefore, I don’t want to do it.”
It’s clear that Kebbell is a true fan, especially when he points out the short comings of the anime, and how the studio’s plan to make Tetsuo and Kaneda brothers was a terrible idea:
“I was desperate to play Tetsuo, but Tetsuo in the comic and annual form,” he explained. “He’s brilliant in the anime, but if you know anything about the comics, they cut so much of the story out. You care about him, because it’s brilliantly done, but you don’t really care about Kaneda, who isn’t.”
“The other thing they wanted to do was make [Tetsuo and Kaneda] brothers,” he continued. “I was like, ‘The point is that Tetsuo can’t comprehend how someone who isn’t his brother could love him so much — and that’s where his wrath and his rage come from. Do you not see that? Why have you made them brothers? What the fuck are you doing?’”
Kebbell doesn’t expect to get the part since he’s made the unforgivable error of giving his honest and well-informed opinion. He’s still eager to see a live-action Akira movie, but he’s disappointed at the studio’s approach. My respect for Kebbell has now increased exponentially. He was willing to torpedo any chance he had at starring in a blockbuster adaptation of one of his favorite stories because he didn’t feel the adaptation would be true to the story he loved.