Taika Waititi Says He Won't Whitewash Live-Action Akira If He Directs

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Taika Waititi Says He Won't Whitewash Live-Action <I>Akira</I> If He Directs

Director and all-around awesome Kiwi Taika Waititi is preparing for the release of his first big blockbuster, Thor: Ragnarok. With his Marvel Studios film expected to make some waves, it is no surprise that other job offers are lining up for him. One potential gig is directing the long-stalled Akira live-action remake. But as movies like Ghost in the Shell have cast white performers in adaptations of Japanese works, the concern for whitewashing remains prevalent. Waititi ensures IGN that this will not be the case.

Waititi confirmed to the outlet that there have indeed been “talks” for him to helm Akira, but the director remained coy on whether the deal would go through: “I am—that was more or less a rumor. There was, I mean, I was in talks to do that, for sure, and something that I was very passionate about—am passionate about.”

Still, Waititi was able to relay his passion for the source material and his potential ideas, confirming that a film from him would adapt the manga rather than the 1988 animated film: “I actually love the books. Love the movie, but I would not do a remake of the movie. I would do an adaptation of the books.”

When asked the inevitable whitewashing question, Waititi gave a reassuring response: “Yeah. Actually Asian teenagers would be the way to do it for me and probably no, not, like no name, I mean sort of unfound, untapped talent. Yeah, I’d probably want to take it a bit back more towards the books.” Previously, names like Kristen Stewart, Dane DeHaan and Garrett Hedlund were attached to a potential Akira project.

Asian representation in the media (in Hollywood, especially) has been a troublesome, but somewhat overlooked problem. Besides the aforementioned Ghost in the Shell, some other offenders have included The Last Airbender, Dragonball Evolution and even Marvel Studios’ own Doctor Strange. Luckily, we recently had a subversion of whitewashing, with Ed Skrein dropping out of the Hellboy reboot, after which Daniel Dae Kim took his place as Asian-American character Ben Daimio. As a person of color with presumably a lot of creative control, Waititi being on board for Akira would be a match made in heaven.

Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok will release on Nov. 3—check out a new clip with Waititi appearing as the character of Korg here. His next project will reportedly be Fox Searchlight’s World War II dramedy Jojo Rabbit.