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Zac Efron and Morgan Freeman to star in Akira?

If you have ever read any manga, or ever watched an anime, odds are that you are familiar with the title Akira. You may not know a thing about Katshuiro Otomo’s original manga that ran from 1982 through 1990, and you may not be familiar with Otomo’s 1988 film that introduced anime to a new generation of fans, but if you are a fan of sci-fi at all, odds are you at least know the name Akira.

So with the built-in fanbase of Akira, it isn’t much of a surprise that there is a live-action film adaptation in the works. In fact, there has been for years, but ballooning budgets and a revolving door of talent behind the project made it seem like the movie might not ever happen.  But it is now looking more and more like Warner Bros has high hopes for an Akira film, and it may be on the fast track.

The Hughes Brothers (Menace 2 Society, The Book of Eli) have been hired to direct, and the adaptation will actually be two movies filmed at the same time, with the first film being based on the first three volumes of the manga, and the second film concluding the story from books four, five, and six. The Hughes Bros are currently conceptualizing the look of the film.

It also appears that casting is underway, and Slashfilm is reporting that Zac Efron is in talks to star in the films. The article doesn’t not say specifically who Efron will play other than it is the lead role, which suggests that it would almost certainly be the role of Shotaro Kaneda.

If you are unfamiliar with the Akira story, it takes place after an apparent nuclear explosion destroys Tokyo and starts WWIII. By 2030 the city of Neo-Tokyo has been built on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay, and the world is a different place. While exploring the Tokyo ruins, a motorcycle gang led by Kaneda comes across a psychic child named Takashi, and Kaneda is injured when Takashi mentally causes Kaneda’s bike to explode. The incident triggers something in Kaneda’s friend, Tetsuo, and the power building within him begins to grow to dangerous proportions, warping his mind. The local military, who have been guarding the secret of who and what Akira is, as well as the truth about the nuclear bomb that destroyed Tokyo, see Tetsuo as a danger, and they attempt to bring him under their control to join the psychics that the military has been keeping under guard. Things soon go horribly wrong, and Tetsuo’s powers change the world forever.

A separate report from the website claims that Morgan Freeman has also been offered a role in Akira, as the Colonel in charge of controlling the psychic children.

Sound off below Akira fans!  Do you accept Efron as Kaneda?

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