After over a decade of unsuccessful attempts to get started, Alita: Battle Angel finally got off the ground earlier this year with Robert Rodriguez taking over as director and Rosa Salazar being cast to play the main protagonist. Since then, some well-known names have been added to the cast, and while today's latest casting might not be familiar to everyone, he'll be play one of the story's most integral roles: Alita's love interest.
Nashville actor Keean Johnson has been brought Alita: Battle Angel aboard to play Hugo, a young boy who teaches Alita how to play Motorball, a gladiator-style sport. He also spends his time secretly stealing robotic parts. According to THR, Johnson beat out actors like Jupiter Ascending's Douglas Booth and Jack Lowden from the upcoming Dunkirk for the part after the studio felt he fit the "ethnically ambiguous" route they were going for with this character. He'll be acting alongside Rosa Salazar, and the rest of the cast so far consists of Christoph Waltz as Dr. Dyson Ido, Jackie Earle Haley as CHI-heavy cyborg villain and Ed Skrein as a fellow cyborg baddie named Zapan, who possesses a weapon known as the Damascus blade.
Taking place in the 26th century, Alita: Battle Angel will follow the eponymous heroine, a cyborg, who wakes up in a scrap yard with no memory of her previous life, but still retaining her amazing martial arts skills. She'll put those skills to good use being a bounty hunter. In the original manga, Alita met the orphaned Hugo (or in Japan, Yugo) during one of her hunts for a dangerous criminal. She was impressed by his efforts to protect her, and they eventually struck up a close friendship when she agreed to help him collect enough currency to bail him out of a precarious situation. Eventually a romance blossomed, but if the movie is following the source material closely, then those two won't get a happy ending.
Keean Johnson is best known for his recurring role as Colt Wheeler in the ABC (now CMT) series Nashville. His other credits include headlining the Hub Network series Spooksville, recurring on ABC Family/Freeform's The Fosters and appearing in the movie Heritage Falls. It's safe to say that Alita: Battle Angel will be his most high-profile project yet, and should the movie be well received, he may have a blockbuster career ahead of him. As mentioned earlier, Robert Rodriguez will be handling directorial duties, taking over from James Cameron, who has the Avatar franchise to keep him busy. However, Cameron still involved with the movie as a producer with his partner Jon Landau.
Alita: Battle Angel will arrive in theaters on July 20, 2018. Let us know what you think of Keean Johnson's casting in the comments below.