Casting is still going on to bring Warner Bros. film ‘Akira’ to life. Last heard, roles were offered to Garett Hedlund (‘Tron’, ‘Eragon’), Helena Bonham Carter (‘Harry Potter’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’), Kristen Stewart (‘Twilight’), and Gary Oldman (‘The Dark Knight’ , ‘The Dark Knight Rises’). Only Hedlund has officially signed on (he will play the role of Kenada). Now word from Twitch has it that since Oldman and Warner Bros. couldn’t come to an agreement, the role offered to him (The Colonel) has now been offered to ‘Inception’s’ Ken Watanabe.
If Watanabe signs on, he will be the first Asian cast in the live action adaptation taken from the Japanese anime/manga. Watanabe is clearly a well-recognized actor starring in high profile films such as ‘Batman Begins’ (as Ra’s Al Ghul), ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, ‘The Last Samurai’ and, of course, ‘Inception.’ In Akira, the Colonel is one of the main antagonists that go head to head with Tetsuo and his gang and Watanabe has the acting chops to bring this role to life. As with all news of this type, the role has been offered but no word as if he has accepted or is even in negotiations with the studios.
The possible casting of Watanabe may alleviate some fans of ‘Akira’ as director Jaume Collet-Serra so far has offered the lead roles to Caucasian actors causing a bit of an uproar. Many fans feel he is doing what M. Night Shyamalan did with ‘The Last Airbender’. ‘Star Trek’s’ George Takai even had opinions when he first heard about Warner Bros.’s Caucasian version of ‘Akira’. This is what he had to say in an interview with Advocate last April:
“I really wasn’t surprised, but the audience has changed now, and I’m surprised Warner Bros. is not keeping up with the audience… It originated in Japan, and, of course, it has a huge Asian fan following. But it’s the multi-ethnic Americans who are fans of Akira and manga. The idea of buying the rights to do that and in fact change it seems rather pointless. If they’re going to do that, why don’t they do something original, because what they do is offend Asians, number 1; number 2, they offend the fans.”
Hopefully Collet-Serra will learn from Shyamalan’s mistakes when it comes to bringing an anime to life. So what do you think of this casting news? Would you like to see Watanabe in the role as The Colonel? Tell us in the comments section below!