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Paper: DiCaprio Considers SMAP for Ninja Scroll Film (Updated)

posted on 2009-04-06 02:07 EDT
Producer Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly intends to "cast with Japanese people"

The Nikkan Sports newspaper reports that Hollywood figure Leonardo DiCaprio is considering casting Japan's SMAP entertainment group as the main leads in Warner Brothers and Appian Way's proposed live-action adaptation of the Ninja Scroll anime. Yoshiaki Kawajiri wrote and directed the original 1993 anime about a wandering ninja fighting a conspiracy of demons. Appian Way is DiCaprio's production company which acquired the rights to the anime last year. In addition to performing a string of hit singles, the five members of SMAP — Masahiro Nakai, Takuya Kimura, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Goro Inagaki and Shingo Katori — have acted in many films based on manga and anime. However, they have not acted together in the same film since 1994's Shoot.

According to Nikkan Sports, casting is in progress with DiCaprio's expressed intention to "cast with Japanese people." In November, DiCaprio told MTV's Splash Page that he is producing both this project and the proposed live-action adaptation of the Akira anime for Warner and Appian Way, but emphasized that he does "not really" have any interest in acting in them. In the same interview he professed to be a big fan of both Akira and Ninja Scroll, and added, "I know there a lot of loyal fans out there of the project and die-hard fans, so we're going to try to do the best job we possibly can and we're not going to make the movie until the script is in the right shape."

At a SMAP event at the end of last year, Nakai said, "I want to do a movie with [all the members of] SMAP." SMAP's agency told Nikkan Sports, "We have no official comment, but if this comes to fruition, we would certainly want to consider it strongly."

Image © 1993 Yoshiaki Kawajiri/MADHOUSE/JVC/Toho Co., LTD./Movic Inc.

Update: Kimura starred as the title character in Howl's Moving Castle, and he also played Memerink in Trinity Blood. Kusanagi played Peter in The Diary of Anne Frank anime movie and Kouichi in Hime-chan's Ribbon. He is also starring in the Yume o Kanaeru Zō television anime and is slated to star in a live-action historical romance loosely based on the plot of the Crayon Shin-chan: Arashi wo Yobu Appare! Sengoku Daikassen film. Inagaki played the Kamen Rider G lead in the live-action special of the same name and Dr. Ratchet in the One Piece: Karakuri Shiro no Mecha Kyohei film. Katori famously played Riiya the kid werewolf in Akazukin Cha Cha, Hattori-kun in the live-action Ninja Hattori Kun The Movie, and Haoumaru in Samurai Shodown: The Motion Picture.

As a group, SMAP performed four theme songs for Hime-chan's Ribbon and the "Kimi iro Omoi" opening theme for Akazukin Cha Cha. The five members also acted in the animated and live-action Gatchaman 2000 commercials for NTT East ISDN.


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