When Leonardo DiCaprio’s shingle Appian Way started to work on a live-action adaptation of Akira with Warner Brothers, the assumption was that the actor/producer would be featured onscreen in some capacity. But Leo tells MTV that he’s not into acting in the film, only producing. “No, not really,” was his response in regards to interest in taking a role either in Akira or Ninja Scroll, the other anime adaptation Appian Way has going.

Drafts of Gary Whitta’s script have been floating around, but DiCaprio says they’re still working on it. “We’re waiting for the final draft of the script …I know there a lot of loyal fans out there of the
project and die-hard fans, so we’re going to try to do the best job we
possibly can and we’re not going to make the movie until the script is
in the right shape.”

Without a final script in place we’re not likely to get much casting news, though I love the idea of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tetsuo. (Even if he has scuttled the rumor for the time being.) I’m a lot more curious about this remake than most other current re-imaginings. As a kid I was mesmerized by Akira‘s animation, and twenty years later I still see the art as a high point in the medium. But the story doesn’t come off very well in the original film. Even with Katsuhiro Otomo condensing and revising the tale, which was not yet finished in print form when the film was made, the thing feels plodding and over-complicated.

If Appian Way really plans to make two films, each adapting three of the six manga volumes, I could easily see the problem persisting. But what if Whitta (or someone else) really cracks it? A big, live-action version could be magnificent. I’m not hinging any huge hopes for the future of mainstream cinematic sci-fi on this project, but I’d love to see it succeed.