Zac Efron to Headline Live-Action Akira Adaptation?
Posted 11.07.10 by BrentJS
It seems as if there might finally be some movement on Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way-developed movie adaptation of one of the most acclaimed and influential manga ("comic book" in Japanese) series of all time, Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira. DiCaprio has been working on the adaptation since 2008, with initial plans calling for the movie to be released in two parts, but concerns over the estimated $300 million budget and the need to get the script into tip-top shape have caused the project to be delayed. If the recent casting rumor is true, then it appears as if those wrinkles have been ironed out and it's full steam ahead on Akira. According to BloodyDisgusting, Zac Efron has been "offered the lead" role in the movie adaptation.
Told in six volumes, Akira details the destruction of Tokyo during WWIII and the rise of Neo-Tokyo, a megalopolis in the throes of anti-government terrorism, political unrest, and biker gang violence. The series primarily follows Shotaro Kaneda, leader of the biker gang The Capsules, and Tetsuo Shima, Kaneda's best friend. After an accident allows Tetsuo to tap into the incredibly powerful psychic abilities of Akira, a young boy being kept in a cryogenic state by the military because of his part in the destruction of Tokyo, Kaneda and Tetsuo become at odds with one another. As Tetsuo's powers increase, he becomes more and more mentally unbalanced and frees Akira, which results in Neo-Tokyo being completed destroyed. Kaneda and Tetsuo eventually reconcile, but Tetsuo ends up getting sucked into another universe by the powers of Akira.
Initial drafts of DiCaprio's two-part movie adaptation were written by Gary Whitta. Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby were brought in to work on subsequent drafts and producer Andrew Lazar revealed in June that a fourth writer had been hired to adapt the series, later revealed to be Albert Torres. Earlier this year, Albert and Allen Hughes were attached to direct. Despite telling MTV that he has no interest in acting in Akira, DiCaprio's name is often linked to the role of Kaneda. Likewise, DiCaprio's Inception co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been mentioned for the role of Tetsuo, but he also debunked that rumor in a separate interview with MTV.
The first hint that Efron was in consideration for a role in Akira was first by /Film, which claimed that the news was "making the tracking board rounds" on Friday. BloodyDisgusting reported that same day that Efron had been offered a leading role in the movie, though it was not specified whether he was offered the role of Kaneda or Tetsuo (though Kaneda seems a more obvious choice given Tetsuo's rather homely appearance in both the manga series and in the 1988 animated movie adaptation). Of course, until there is definite confirmation from Appian Way or Warner Bros., Efron's attachment is still only a rumor.