<i>Akira</i> Targets Ken Watanabe

With Gary Oldman apparently passing on Akira, Warner Bros. is turning to another Batman Begins actor to play The Colonel in the live-action adaptation of the acclaimed manga and anime.

Twitch, which last month broke the news of the offer to Oldman, now reports the studio is targeting Inception's Ken Watanabe to portray Colonel Shikishima, the ruthless yet honorable head of the government project conducting research on psychic test subjects.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, the $90 million Akira is based on Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark cyberpunk manga and anime set in a post-apocalyptic New-Tokyo — New Manhattan in the Warner Bros. film — gripped by gang violence and anti-government terrorism. When young gang member Tetsuo manifests telepathic powers, he draws the attention of the government, which fears he poses a threat.

With Tron: Legacy star Garrett Hedlund set to play gang leader Kaneda, the studio reportedly wants to find its Tetsuo this week: Michael Pitt, D.J. Cotrona, Paul Dano and Richard Madden are believed to have tested for the role Sunday and Monday. An offer also has gone out to Twilight star Kristen Stewart to portray Ky Reed -- Kei in the manga and anime --  a young revolutionary who becomes Kaneda's love interest during the search for his friend Tetsuo.

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