Kristen Stewart Offered Role in Akira

Kristen Stewart Offered Role in Akira


I've written before about why the remake of the classic anime film Akira is a terrifically gross artistic and political move on the part of its creators. Taking an iconic Japanese cold war story and mutating it into a flimsy post-9/11 blockbuster is just a huge bucket of nope. I had some hope that this project might collapse under the weight of its own pointlessness somewhere in pre-production, but that hasn't happened yet. The movie keeps blindly chugging along. Roles have been offered. To the wrong actors. 

Twilight's lip-gnawing heroine may just star in Akira if it does eventually open in 2013. Kristen Stewart has just been offered the role of Kei. This should make you angry not just because Stewart can't muster more than two and a half facial expressions to save her life, but because of what it probably means for the character she's set to play.

Kei is one of the strongest characters in the original manga and anime. She's not the sidelined love interest of the male lead; she drives the story and gets way more done than Kaneda. She's an active force in the development of the plot. Stewart, on the other hand, became famous for portraying one of the most passive, limp protagonists ever to grace the blued-out big screen. Bella Swan is at the beck and call of her male romantic interests. She doesn't do anything except try to find ways to keep her vampire boyfriend around. 

I realize that just because her most famous role is a wet pile of useless doesn't mean that every single character she inhabits will be a hesitant lovestruck teen. But the fact that she was offered the role first belies some of the priorities of the film's creators. Akira will fit right in with the Hollywood patriarchy. It's one of the most transparent money-grabs I've seen in a while, appropriating the title and imagery of a fantastic work of art for quick cash. If anyone cared about doing justice to the source material at all, the film would still be set in Japan with Japanese actors. But Stewart's a box office draw. People pay to see her flounder and get hurt on screen--not to see her kick ass and take names. Even if Kei were written as she should be, Stewart probably wouldn't be able to handle all the activity. So Kei will likely be robbed of much of her agency, following blithely behind Kaneda (or whatever American name they end up giving to the male protagonist). 

Oh, and the role of Kaneda has been offered to Garrett Hedlund of Tron: Legacy fame. In case you were wondering how that was going to play out.