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Last month, the long-floundering, live-action remake of Akira finally got the greenlight from Warner Bros. As if that wasn't surprising enough, they purportedly even had a front-runner in mind for the lead: TRON: Legacy star Garrett Hedlund. It made sense -- Hedlund is a rising star, and science fiction clearly suits him, since the TRON sequel is his highest grossing role to date. Plus, as Eric pointed out at the time, he's already demonstrated a knack with futuristic motorcycles. Now the rumors have solidified and Variety is reporting that Hedlund is officially in talks for the lead role in Akira.
Based on the manga series by Katsuhiro Otomo, and made into a cult-classic animated film in 1988, Akira is set against the backdrop of a futuristic, dystopian Tokyo. After Tetsuo, a young member of a biker gang, begins manifesting dangerous psychic powers, Kaneda -- Tetsuo's friend and the leader of the gang -- races across the cyberpunk landscape to try and protect Tetsuo from a government interested in studying and/or harvesting him.
Hedlund would be playing Kaneda, and this live-action version would also shift the action from Tokyo to a futuristic version of New York City. Numerous writers have taken a stab at the screenplay over the years, but the latest draft was done by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows writer Steve Kloves. At least Kloves has plenty of experience in adapting properties with a fervent and vociferous fan base. The very notion of a live-action Akira has been stirring up controversy amongst the faithful for years, so I'm sure the casting of Hedlund will generate yet another round of irate chatter.
We'll have to wait until 2013 or so to see how Hedlund handles the role, but next year we'll see him in an equally iconic role: as Dean Moriarty in Walter Salles' adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On the Road.