Taika Waititi’s ‘AKIRA’ is Officially Casting Asian Actors
It seems like any fears that AKIRA could be whitewashed by Hollywood are officially out the window as of now, as director Taika Waititi is officially looking for Asian actors to portray the lead characters of the film.
Entertainment casting resource Backstage (hat tip HN Entertainment) has unveiled an extensive list of roles for the younger characters in the film (codenamed Box 28), including what appear to be listings for the members of Kaneda’s biker gang and the Espers. All cast listings are specifically looking for Asian actors, and specifically note a preference for actors with Japanese heritage. The eight roles that are being cast can be seen below:
- JUN: Male, to play Japanese, English speaking. Must be legal 18-20’s to play 18: Sharp-eyed, sinewy, tough, handsome, cool. He is the leader of a street gang of teenagers & knows how to have a good time. JUN should not be too cool or too tough. He’s a scrappy, ragtag kid who’s not worried about anything. Your weird, natural authentic self is encouraged! LEAD.
- KOICHI: Male, 18-24 Male, to play Japanese, English speaking. Must be legal 18-20’s to play 17: Constantly forced to punch up in order to survive. He’s fearless to the point of recklessness. He is haunted by the loss of a loved one. LEAD.
- MISA: Female, 18-30 Female, to play Japanese, English speaking. Must be legal 18-30: Beautiful, intelligent, strong-willed. She is a member of an anti-government organization trying to save her city. LEAD.
- REINA: Female, 18-24 Female, to play Asian, English speaking (Japanese a plus). Must be legal 18-20’s to play 17: Gentle, kind, cute, compassionate. She is a member of a biker gang & cares deeply for Koichi. SUPPORTING LEAD.
- TAKAMATSU: Male, 18-24 Male, to play Asian, English speaking (Japanese a plus). Must be legal 18-20’s to play 18: Large, tough, loyal, short-fused. A member of Jun’s gang & a close friend. SUPPORTING LEAD.
- YUKI: Male, 18-24 Male, to play Asian, English speaking (Japanese a plus). Must be legal 18-20’s to play 16: A small, clever, brainy technical wiz, he is the youngest member of Jun’s street gang. SUPPORTING LEAD.
- GEN: Male, 10-12. Male, to play Asian, English speaking (Japanese a plus), age 10: A small, mysterious boy on an urgent mission; he is humble, shy, compassionate & wise beyond his years. SUPPORTING LEAD.
- AIMI: Female, 10-12. Female, to play Asian, English speaking (Japanese a plus), age 10: A mysterious girl on an urgent mission; she is kind, gentle, compassionate & wise beyond her years. SUPPORTING LEAD.
Based on those descriptions, Jun is Kaneda, Koichi is Tetsuo, Misa is Kei, Reina is Kaori, Takamatsu is Yamagata, Yuki is Kaisuke, Gen is Masaru, and Aimi is Kiyoko. Industry veterans will likely be sought for older roles, which are similarly plentiful and are not listed here.
While filming will not take place in Tokyo (in favor of being filmed in California), AKIRA is set to retain its futuristic, dystopian setting of a cyberpunk Japanese metropolis, with the setting shifted a few years into the future since the original setting of 2019 is now contemporary. While earlier reports suggested that filming will begin next month, the lack of casting information suggests that they’ll be saving the start of filming for a little later into the year.
The film’s synopsis is as follows:
“Set in post-apocalyptic Tokyo, the original story revolves around a teen, Tetsuo, who discovers he has powerful telekinetic abilities that threaten the world. Once a member of a biker gang, the only person who seems to be able to stop the all-powerful and dangerous teen is his childhood friend and gang leader, Kaneda.”
AKIRA will be released on May 21, 2021.
Grant Davis is a freelance writer who has covered entertainment news for more than four years. His articles have frequently appeared in Star Wars News Net as well as as other entertainment-related websites. As someone who grew up on Star Wars and comic book movies, he’s completely thrilled with the current era of genre entertainment.