Taika Waititi’s career behind the camera is about to skyrocket. The indie favorite behind “Boy” and “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is earning strong reviews for his first American blockbuster, the Marvel superhero film “Thor: Ragnarok,” and he’s staying in the studio game for “Akira.” Warner Bros.’ long-in-the-works adaptation of the Japanese manga series reportedly landed Waititi last month. The studio has not yet confirmed the hiring, though Waititi was eager to talk about his involvement on “Akira” during the “Thor” red carpet.
“I actually love the books,” Waititi told IGN, teasing that his adaptation won’t be based on the landmark 1988 anime film. “I love the movie, but I would not do a remake of the movie. I would do an adaptation of the books.”
The unfortunate state of the current Hollywood studio system means “Akira” fans have every right to be worried over whether or not the studio will whitewash the movie and cast caucasian actors in roles written for Japanese performers. Waititi assured IGN on the red carpet that his version of the movie will not be dealing with any kind of whitewashing scandal.
“[Casting] Asian teenagers would be the way to do it for me and probably no, not, like no name, I mean sort of unfound, untapped talent,” he said. “Yeah, I’d probably want to take it a bit back more towards the books.”
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Hollywood’s history with whitewashing has been well documented over the last several months. Scarlett Johansson faced backlash over playing the lead in the “Ghost in the Shell” manga adaptation, while Ed Skrein decided to drop out of the new “Hellboy” movie after he received negative press for signing on to play an Asian-American character from the comics.
Warner Bros’ “Akira” adaptation has already gotten close to whitewashing the cast, as previous attempts to make the movie have had white actors like Dane DeHaan and Garrett Hedlund attached to star.