Jaume Collet-Serra is a director on fire with the upcoming release of Non-Stop and the filming of Run All Night in the can. He recently took time to speak on his continuing development of Akira, and you may be surprised at his thoughts.
To get you up-to-speed on this ever-developing subject, Collet-Serra was slated to direct a live-action version of Katsuhiro Otomo’s iconic manga and cult 1988 anime. Garrett Hedlund was on board to play Kaneda. Warner Bros. decided $90 million was a bit too rich for their blood, the project stalled, and the director dropped out.
However, a year later Collet-Serra returned to a more scaled-down version of the story, which is where we are now. He spoke with Coming Soon and had some really interesting things to say. They may be controversial, but he’s not completely wrong either.
To cut right to the chase, when asked about what he would bring to the table in addition to the original anime, Collet-Serra said, “I hope that I can bring strong characters. In the original source material, I don’t think the main characters are the protagonists. What I’m hoping is to bring characters.”
And then he dropped the bomb, “Nobody’s interesting. Tetsuo’s interesting because weird shit happens to him, and Kaneda is so two-dimensional. That’s part of the Japanese culture; they never have strong characters. They’re used as a way to move the other philosophy forward.” Hard to argue with that.
In less explosive comments, Collet-Serra went on to talk about the ongoing development of Akira, “It’s great that they’re waiting for me. It’s different, because you have to be respectful of the source material. Otomo adapted his own work from a manga into an anime, and both things are completely different and genius. The only way to do a live version of Akira is to take the spirit and adapt it. It will be as different as the anime was from the manga.”
And he certainly plans to keep the true complex spirit of the project alive. “I think you cannot make a movie about Akira and hope that everyone understands it,” Collet-Serra said. “Like everything else, you have to make three or four movies in one where there’s the essence somewhere. If you’re a fan, you already know what it’s about and you’ll see it’s part of the same world, but trying to oversimplify it would be a mistake. I think if at some point a character tries to explain it to the audience at the end of the second act, that’s a problem. It’s more like an existential opera. It’s something that can only be explained in the manga, and even in the anime it’s hard to follow.”
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