Make no mistake, there were more than a few concerned fans when last year Warner Bros. tried to put the pieces in place for their long-developing remake of the cult classic “Akira.” The project went through two directors in one year (Albert Hughes and Jaume Collet-Serra) before being shut down this past January. From casting that rounded up a bunch of young, familiar and white faces to the setting, which was dropped into New Manhattan, to the concept of splitting the story into two movies, almost every idea being tossed around was met with harsh scrutiny. Even from actors trying out for the gig.
Brit thesp Toby Kebbell (“War Horse,” “Wrath Of The Titans“) recently sat down with IFC (via PunchDrunkCritics) and revealed that as well as being a one-time contender for the remake, he is fan of “Akira,” and he told WB straight up that their approach was missing the entire point of the mangas and movie. “I was desperate to play Tetsuo, but Tetsuo in the comic and annual form. He’s brilliant in the anime, but if you know anything about the comics, they cut so much of the story out. You care about him, because it’s brilliantly done, but you don’t really care about Kaneda, who isn’t,” Kebbell explained. “The other thing they wanted to do was make [Tetsuo and Kaneda] brothers. 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?’”
Acknowledging that trashing the studio approach, which is currently set to get another rewrite, probably won’t get him reconsidered for the movie, Kebbell explains he tried to get them to understand their concept was wrongheaded. “They were like, ‘This is going to be a big franchise!’ 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?’” he said. “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.”
At any rate, Warner Bros. got cold feet and shut down the production at the beginning of the year. They are likely retooling and it’s probably not the last we’ll hear of this project, though Kebbell won’t be expecting his phone to ring again for another try. While we wait to see from what angle the studio and writers attempt to revive “Akira,” io9 has dug up some concept art from the aborted film that gives a small hint of where they were going. Check it out below.