With Garrett Hedlund in talks to star as Kaneda in the Warner Bros. adaptation of Akira, the studio is now now in search of an actor to play Tetsuo, the psychic teen from Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark cyberpunk manga and anime.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ezra Miller and Alden Ehrenreich are among those rumored to be reading next week for the role, characterized by the trade paper as Kaneda's younger brother. In the source material, Kaneda and Tetsuo are best friends and fellow gang members whose relationship is destroyed when the latter abuses his new powers.
Serialized from 1982 to 1990, Akira is set in a post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo — it’s changed to New Manhattan for the U.S. movie — gripped by gang violence and anti-government terrorism. When Tetsuo manifests telepathic powers, he draws the attention of the government, which fears he poses a threat.
Eighteen-year-old Miller is an emerging star, appearing in the upcoming drama We Need to Talk About Kevin and the adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Ehrenreich, 21, starred in Francis Ford Coppola's 2009 drama Tetro, and will next be seen in Twixt, also directed by Coppola.
After several setbacks, including the loss of director Albert Hughes in May, Akira was finally greenlit two weeks ago, with Unknown's Jaume Collet-Serra at the helm. Warner Bros. has made offers to Gary Oldman, Helena Bonham Carter, Hedlund and Keira Knightley, but so far only Hedlund has entered negotiations. Oldman would play the Colonel, Bonham Carter the high priestess Lady Miyako, and Knightley, presumably, the young revolutionary (and Kaneda's love interest) Kei.
Production is expected to begin on Akira in late February or early March.