<i>Akira</i> Short List Said To Include Pattinson, Garfield, Timberlake

Barely a month after Warner Bros. called in Harry Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves to polish its live-action adaptation of Akira, Deadline reports the script has been sent to a short list of actors being eyed for the two lead roles.

Contrary to widely circulated rumors, James Franco's name is nowhere to be found -- at least in Deadline's rundown.

Directed by Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli), Akira is based on Katsuhiro Otomo’s groundbreaking manga is set in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo gripped by gang violence and anti-government terrorism. When Tetsuo, a young member of a biker gang, manifests telepathic powers, he draws the attention of the government, which fears he poses a threat. Otomo himself adapted Akira in 1988 in what’s widely considered a landmark anime.

So who is on that list? Deadline contends that Warner Bros. is eyeing some familiar names to play the two leads (in the manga and anime, they're juvenile delinquents): For Tetsuo, Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy have been sent the script. And for the role of gang leader Kaneda, Tetsuo's best friend, the studio shipped scripts to Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix. Pattinson, at 24, is the youngest of that group; Phoenix, at 36, the oldest.

Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures acquired the rights to Akira from Japanese publisher Kodansha in February 2008, setting up a two-movie project with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way. Production could begin as early as August.

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