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3/27/2012

Toby Kebbell explains what was wrong with the live-action 'Akira' remake


There's a good chance we'll never see Warner Brothers' live-action Akira remake. Good riddance, if you ask me. If you can't do it right, don't do it at all. After a combative casting process ended with original director, Albert Hughes, walking away from the project, he was replaced by Jaume Collet-Serra. That didn't solve the problems, which revolved around the budget, and continued hang-ups with the script. . In November the film was officially put on hold, yet we continue to learn more of what might have been.

Toby Kebbell(Rocknrolla) had been up for the role of Tetsuo, the psionic powerhouse at the center of Katsuhiro Otomo's acclaimed manga and the equally revered anime. Kebbell, a long time comic book and manga fan, had been very familiar with the source material and voiced his suggestions to the film's producers, which apparently didn't turn out so well....

Kebbell: “They were like, ‘This is going to be a big franchise!’” he explained. “So I said, ‘Then in that case, understand that I’ve read the comics, and I’ve read the comics that got turned into the annuals, and then the annuals that got turned into the one-off anime. So if you really want to do it, then why don’t you look at the six comics and just put two into each film?’”

“That way my character, Tetsuo, is not the lead. He’s not the second lead, and he’s not the third or the fourth lead, because there are eight major characters there. You’ve got great young actors, and you could get them in there. That’s the way to do it if you want to do sequels.”

Warner Brothers shot his idea down, not surprising considering their hope to keep the budget as low as possible. The plan was to capture the entirety of Otomo's six-volume manga in two movies, which would have called for so much cutting of the story as to lose much of the significance. Another change they made which Kebbell found especially offensive was the relationship between gang leader Kaneda and Tetsuo, by far the most important of the entire story....

Kebbell: “The other thing they wanted to do was make [Tetsuo and Kaneda] brothers,” he continued. “I was like, ‘The point is that Tetsuo can’t comprehend how someone who isn’t his brother could love him so much — and that’s where his wrath and his rage come from. Do you not see that? Why have you made them brothers? What the fuck are you doing?’”

As of now, Akira is still dead and nobody's around with a set of jumper cables. Garrett Hedlund was the only confirmed star in the role of Kaneda. Kristen Steart, Ken Watanabe, and Helena Bonham Carter were circling other key parts, with Dane DeHaan(Chronicle) and Michael Pitt(Bully) the finalists for Tetsuo. [IFC]