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Alita: Battle Angel Casts Nashville Actor in Key Role

James Cameron's long-brewing live-action adaptation of "Battle Angel Alita" has finally found the love interest for the title character.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, after an intense search, Fox has settled on 20-year-old "Nashville" actor Keean Johnson to star opposite Rosa Salazar in "Alita: Battle Angel."

He reportedly edged out such actors as Avan Jogia ("Tut"), Douglas Booth ("Jupiter Ascending"), Jack Lowden ("Dunkirk") and Noah Silver ("Tyrant") for the role in the Robert Rodriguez-directed film. The cast also includes Christoph Waltz, Jackie Earl Haley and Ed Skrein.

The big-budget sci-fi film is based on the popular cyberpunk manga by Yukito Kishiro about a female cyborg discovered in a garbage heap by a scientist. With no memory of her previous life, except for her deadly martial-arts skills, she becomes a bounty hunter, tracking down criminals. Johnson will play Hugo, an orphaned teen who secretly steals cyborg body parts for sale on the black market.

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The original manga was serialized from 1990 to 1995, and inspired a handful of spinoffs, a two-episode original video animation and a video game.

Cameron's live-action adaptation has been in development since at least 2000, but Rodriguez's involvement wasn't announced until last October. Laeta Kalogridis ("Shutter Island," "Terminator Genysis") wrote the script. Cameron will produce the film alongside his partner Jon Landau.

"Alita: Battle Angel" is targeted for release on July 20, 2018.

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