An English-language, live-action adaptation of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s acclaimed manga series Death Note has been in the works for almost a decade now, but production on the film officially got underway within the last month. That hasn’t stopped the project from bringing on another high-profile cast member, with The Boondock Saints and Spider-Man actor Willem Dafoe recently joining the cast in a very important role.
According to Mashable, Dafoe will reportedly provide the voice of Ryuk, one of the prominent “death gods” from the story that are popularly known as “shinigami” in Japanese culture. The death gods hold the power of life and death over humans, and the Death Note series chronicles the events that transpire when a brilliant teenager comes into possession of the book that gives Ryuk his power.
Set to be directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest), Death Note features Paper Towns and The Fault in our Stars actor Nat Wolff as Light Turner, a high school student who comes across a mysterious notebook that gives him the power to kill anyone whose name he writes in it. When he decides to embark on a mission to rid the world of anyone he deems unworthy of life, he attracts the attention of the authorities and an eccentric investigative genius who challenges him in a tense, cat-and-mouse battle of wits to determine the fate of the world.
In the original manga series, Ryuk was depicted as a monstrous creature who hovers around Light and is only visible to the owner of the notebook, observing what he does with it.
Along with Wolff and Dafoe, the film’s cast also includes Margaret Qualley (The Nice Guys) as Mia Sutton; Keith Stanfield (Straight Outta Compton) as the enigmatic “L,” Paul Nakauchi (Alpha and Omega) as Watari, and Shea Whigham (Agent Carter) as James Turner.
Told over 108 chapters and later collected into 12 volumes, the Death Note manga series sold over 30 million copies as of 2015, and was adapted into a popular, 37-episode anime series. It was also adapted into a trilogy of Japanese-language, live-action movies that each topped the Japanese box office for several weeks and received brief theatrical releases in North America. The series has also been adapted into video games, novels, and a 2015 stage musical.
Wingard’s live-action Death Note movie is expected to premiere in 2017 on Netflix.
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