Website: Keanu Reeves Passes on Akira, Most of Staff Let Go
posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
According to the entertainment news website JoBlo.com, actor Keanu Reeves has passed on playing the role of Kaneda in Warner Bros.' planned live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo's manga Akira. The Hollywood Reporter trade magazine's Heat Vision blog had reported on May 6 that Warner Bros. was in talks with the actor, although the rival Variety magazine's film editor Josh Dickey downplayed the report.
The website also reported that soon after Reeves turned down the role, Warner Bros. "shut down Akira's [previsualization] department and most of the staff that was working on the film was let go," although the website noted that it was told the two events were not related. Warner Bros. gave the website the following statement:
Production on Akira has not halted or been shut down, as the film has not yet been green-lit and is still very much in the development stage. The exploratory process is crucial to a project of this magnitude, and we will continue to sculpt our approach to making the best possible film.
The website noted that Albert Hughes (Menace II Society, From Hell, The Book of Eli) is still slated to direct the film.
Warner Bros. revealed in 2008 that it would partner with Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way studio to produce the film. In March, an alleged short list of possible cast members, including Justin Timberlake and Robert Pattinson, was posted by movie news site Deadline. While Pattinson himself downplayed the report, Star Trek television actor George Takei promoted petitions against the alleged "white-washing" (casting of only caucasian actors) of the series, whose original characters are Japanese.
Reeves is already attached to produce and star in a live-action adaptation of the Sunrise anime series Cowboy Bebop, although in his most recent comment on the project, he was uncertain whether it would move forward.
[Via Chris Beveridge]