It looks like Gary Oldman had turned down his potential role in Warner Bros.’ “Akira” according to a report by Twitch. In his stead, fellow “Batman Begins” actor Ken Watanabe is being approached for the role.
This makes for an interesting potential casting as the seminal 1988 Japanese anime adaptation will now potentially feature an actual Asian actor. This comes as a surprise since Hollywood has not been too coy with its interest and intent with “white-wash” the property. As of now the potential cast — Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Helena Bonham-Carter and a slew of actors screen testing for Tetsuo — are all Caucasian.
Created by Katsuhiro Otomo, “Akira” is set in a dystopian cyberpunk future reflecting the concerns in Japan at the time it was released. Since it’s announcement, many fans of the original have expressed concerned against the white-washed casting. “Star Trek’s” George Takei recently even spoke out about the decision, comparing the casting of “Akira” to M. Night Shyamalan’s casting choice of white actors in “The Last Airbender.”
“I’m surprised Warner Bros. is not keeping up with the audience. The manga and anime phenomenon is mostly white in this country. 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,” he told The Advocate.
“If they’re going to do that, why don’t they do something original, because what they do is offend Asians.”