Directed by You’re Next and The Guest filmmaker Adam Wingard, Death Note casts Nat Wolff (The Fault in Our Stars) as Light Turner, a Seattle high school student who comes into possession of a mysterious notebook that grants its owner the power to kill anyone whose name he writes in it. As Light soon discovers, the notebook was the property of a death god (known as “shinigami” in Japanese culture) named Ryuk, and the book’s prior owner is more than happy to see what Light will do with it.
More than just a simple horror or revenge tale, Death Note is based on Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s acclaimed manga series of the same name, which chronicled Light’s rise to power along with the efforts of a mysterious figure known simply as “L” who’s tasked with uncovering the killer’s identity.
Death Note has taken almost a decade to get to the screen as an English-language, live-action film, but was previously adapted into an acclaimed 37-episode anime series, as well as a trilogy of Japanese-language, live-action movies. That trilogy had a brief theatrical release in North America, and the series also inspired multiple video games, tie-in novels, and a 2015 stage musical. The original manga series sold more than 30 million copies as of 2015.
Earlier in the English-language film’s development, directors Shane Black and Gus Van Sant were each attached to helm the project at various points. Both directors exited the film, and original studio Warner Bros. Pictures also dropped the film in April 2016 right before it began production. Wingard was given permission to take it elsewhere, and Death Note was quickly picked up by Netflix. The first trailer for Death Note was released in March 2017.
Along with Wolff and Dafoe, the cast of Death Note includes Margaret Qualley (The Nice Guys) as Mia Sutton, Keith Stanfield (Straight Outta Compton) as the eccentric “L,” Paul Nakauchi (Alpha and Omega) as Watari, and Shea Whigham (Agent Carter) as James Turner.
Death Note is produced by Roy Lee (The Ring, The Departed), Dan Lin (The LEGO Movie, Sherlock Holmes), Jason Hoffs (Edge of Tomorrow), and Masi Oka (Heroes, Hawaii Five-O).
The live-action Death Note movie will premiere August 25 on Netflix.