Casting News: Bradley Cooper Could Be the New Man from U.N.C.L.E.; Gary Oldman and Helena Bonham Carter Offered Roles in Akira
10.23.11 by BJSprecher
Whether or not Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) will retire after his Liberace biopic for HBO as he has implied — Soderbergh admitted at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con that he is "winding down" — the Academy Award-winning director still has more than enough movies in the pipeline to satisfy his fans for years to come. In addition to his global pandemic movie, Contagion, which is currently in theaters, Soderbergh has already completed work on Haywire, a spy thriller starring mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano, and he is currently filming Magic Mike, a "sexy, funny and shocking" movie inspired by headliner Channing Tatum's days as a male stripper.
Squeezed between Magic Mike and Liberace — we're pretty sure there's a joke in there somewhere — Soderbergh plans to direct The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a remake of the '60s TV series of the same name about a secret international spy and law-enforcement agency called U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement). Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven star, George Clooney, was on tap to play the top agent, Napoleon Solo, but ultimately rejected the part over fears that the stunt work required of the role would aggravate some injuries the silver fox sustained while filming Syriana. After both Matt Damon and Johnny Depp turned down the role, Variety has reported that Soderbergh offered the part of Solo to Bradley Cooper, who is likely to accept. Soderbergh had intended on going into production on U.N.C.L.E. in February, but the addition of Cooper would push the start date back until late-March/early-April because of Cooper's commitment to Paradise Lost.
When Warner Bros. finally greenlit Akira last week, it gave us hope that we would finally see some momentum on the live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo's classic manga ("comic book") series of the same name that Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way production company has been developing for the past three years. It seems now that our hopes were well founded, as the studios appear to be moving quickly with finding some top talent to fill up the cast.
Though we're still not sure how we feel about the recent rumor that Garrett Hedlund of Tron: Legacy fame (infamy?) is the current "front-runner" to play the role of heroic biker gang leader Shotaro Kaneda, we couldn't be more thrilled by the latest casting news. According to Twitch, Gary Oldman and Helena Bonham Carter have been offered the roles of The Colonel and Lady Miyako, respectively.
Set in the future city of Neo-Tokyo ("New Manhattan" in the movie) Akira revolves around Tetsuo Shima — Shotaro Kaneda's best friend and a member of his biker gang — who develops out-of-control psychic abilities after coming into contact with one of the "children" involved in the government's "Numbers" program, which seeks to harness the power of psychics, including the godlike entity known as Akira (#28) who has been kept in suspended animation since destroying "old" Tokyo (Manhattan). The Colonel is the man responsible for the facility that conducts research on the the psychics and keeps Akira in cryogenic freeze. Lady Miyako (#19) is a former test subject who has become the high priestess of a temple in Neo-Tokyo. She aids Kaneda, ultimately sacrficiing her own life in the final battle against Tetsuo.
The script for Akira has had a number of writers work on it since 2008, including Gary Whitta, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby and Albert Torres, with Steve Kloves of Harry Potter putting the final "polish" on it. Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) will direct. The movie is tentatively slated for a "late February/early March start."