As it prepares to shoot this fall, Robert Rodriguez’ Alita: Battle Angel is starting to round out its cast. It previously set Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials actress Rosa Salazar in the title role of an amnesiac female cyborg who becomes a bounty hunter. Now THR is reporting that Christoph Waltz is in talks to play “Doctor Dyson Ido, the cybersurgeon who finds the cyborg and becomes her mentor.”
Let us set aside the fact that Waltz does not remotely look like anyone who has the last name “Ido”. Hollywood’s approach to adapting anime and manga, as seen from the casting of Ghost in the Shell, appears to be “We’re taking the characters and the story, but leaving out the Japanese people.” That’s not to say that Alita won’t eventually cast some Japanese actors (Ghost in the Shell has a few in its lead cast), but it’s not really a priority for Hollywood. Whether a futuristic, post-apocalyptic story needs to keep the ethnicity of its characters remains to be seen in how they handle the film. It’s possible that they could also end up changing the last name of Waltz’ character.
For Waltz, the character signals a shift away from the villain roles he’s played lately, which is a nice change of pace. While Hans Landa remains his best performance, he has more range than just playing a baddie, and I look forward to seeing what he can do in the role of a mentor. Waltz recently wrapped filming on Alexander Payne’s Downsizing and will be seen next year opposite Alicia Vikander in the period drama Tulip Fever.
Alita: Battle Angel is set to open on July 20, 2018.