Taika Waititi On How He’d Approach “Akira”

Following several much adored New Zealand comedies, filmmaker Taika Waititi jumps to blockbuster filmmaking this Fall with Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok”.

In the lead-up to the film’s release, a report the other week suggested Waititi is in talks to helm the long in the works live-action remake of the iconic manga series and 1988 anime feature “Akira”.

Now, speaking with IGN this week, Waititi confirmed that he has indeed been approached about the film, but didn’t make clear if he’s pursuing it or passed:

“I am [in talks] – that was more or less a rumor. There was, I mean, I was in talks to do that, for sure, and something that I was very passionate about – am passionate about…I actually love the books. Love the movie, but I would not do a remake of the movie. I would do an adaptation of the books…And, yeah, so anyway there’s been some chats [about him directing it].”

He also commented on one issue that is bound to arise with the film, that of Hollywood potentially whitewashing it. Recently it was done with the live-action remake of “Ghost in the Shell” and Netflix’s adaptation of “Death Note,” two of the most famous non-“Akira” mangas.

Certainly in the reports about the live-action “Akira” over the years, there has been plenty of talk about shifting the setting from ‘Neo Tokyo’ to ‘New Manhattan’ and using a white cast with names like Kristen Stewart, Helena Bonham Carter, Gary Oldman and Garrett Hedlund linked to roles. Waititi says that if he does take the director’s chair, he won’t make that mistake:

“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. Yeah, I’d probably want to take it a bit back more towards the books.”

At last report the plan is to adapt the manga’s six volumes into two films with each based on three of the books. Set in a future city, the sci-fi epic follows the leader of a bike gang who must save his best friend – one who has been experimented on by the government causing him to develop dangerous and destructive psychokinetic powers.

Waititi’s “Thor: Ragnarok” opens in cinemas early next month and is riding a wave of strong early reaction.