Taika Waititi Talks Potentially Directing Akira, Casting Asians

Last month, it was revealed that Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi is in negotiations with Warner Bros. to direct Akira, the live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s anime. Now Waititi has spoken to IGN about potentially directing the film, what his approach would be, and casting Asians.

“I am — that was more or less a rumor,” said Waititi coyly about the possibility. “There was, I mean, I was in talks to do that, for sure, and something that I was very passionate about — am passionate about. I actually love the books. Love the movie, but I would not do a remake of the movie. I would do an adaptation of the books. And, yeah, so anyway there’s been some chats [about him directing it].”

He also confirmed that he would not whitewash or Americanize the cast, preferring to cast Asian actors in the roles of Kaneda, Tetsuo, et al.

“Yeah, actually Asian teenagers would be the way to do it for me and probably no, not, like no name, I mean sort of unfound, untapped talent,” Waititi confirmed. “Yeah, I’d probably want to take it a bit back more towards the books.” 

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Akira consists of six volumes and there are reportedly gong to be two films, each based on three volumes. There was a Japanese animated film based on Akira back in 1988, directed by Otomo.

The movie adaptation has carried this synopsis for years: Set in a future city environment called New Manhattan, the sci-fi epic follows the leader of a bike gang who must save his best friend, who has been experimented on by the government causing him to develop dangerous and destructive psychokinetic powers.

Andrew Lazar (American Sniper) and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way are producing the film, for which the studio acquired the rights back in 2008. It’s had plenty of talent attached before. The closest it came to being made was in 2012, when Jaume Collet-Serra was to direct Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Ken Watanabe and Helena Bonham Carter.

In addition to the upcoming Thor: Ragnorok, Waititi is set to direct the upcoming WWII film Jojo Rabbit, which he also wrote. He’s also known for his work on the films What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

What do you guys think of the choice of Taika Waitit to direct the live-action version of Akira? Who should be cast in the film? Let us know in the comments or at @ComingSoonnet.