Harry Potter Screenwriter Hired to "Polish" Akira Script; Brad Pitt Passes on Key Role
02.20.11 by BJSprecher
Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way-developed movie adaptation of the highly acclaimed six-volume manga ("comic book" in Japanese) series created by Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira, continues to pop up in the news, but it's hard to tell if any real progress is being made on the project that DiCaprio first took on back in 2008. The latest news from Variety has Steve Kloves, writer of seven of the eight Harry Potter adaptations for Warner Bros., coming aboard Akira to "polish" the script.
That sounds like progress, right? Maybe. But, it also seemed like progress was being made when the last four writers—Gary Whitta, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Albert Torres— were hired to work on drafts of the script, which is intended to be told in two parts. Albert and Allen Hughes (The Book of Eli) have been attached to direct since February 2010, but the movie still does not have a lead actor to play the hero, Shotaro Kaneda, or any other actors, as of yet.
Akira takes place in Neo-Tokyo in the aftermath of the destruction of Tokyo during WWIII. While the beleaguered government is dealing with anti-government terrorism, political unrest, and gang violence, an accident grants Tetuso Shima, a member of The Capsules biker gang, the incredible psychic abilities of Akira, a young boy being kept in a cryogenic state because of his part in the destruction of Tokyo. Tetsuo becomes drunk with his new found powers and increasingly unstable, prompting the military and his best friend and the leader of The Capsules, Kaneda, to stop him at any cost.
When the project was first being talked about, DiCaprio himself was being mentioned for the role of Kaneda, but he has repeatedly said that he is not interested in playing the character. Subsequently, other high-profile actors such as Keanu Reeves, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zac Efron have all been talked about in connection with the role. The latest named that has popped up is Brad Pitt, who reportedly was offered the role, but turned it down. Unfortunately for die-hard fans of the manga series and of the 1988 anime adaptation, based on the list of actors being mentioned, it's pretty clear that the Hughes' have no intention of sticking too closely to the source material since most of them are too old for the role and none of them are Japanese.
Despite a script that needs yet more polishing and no actors, Vulture reports that Appian Way and its co-producing partner on the Akira adaptation, Andrew Lazar's Mad Chance, are "looking to go into production this summer." Yeah, right. We'll believe that when we see it.