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Would-be Tetsuo actor Toby Kebbell explains where the live-action “Akira” movie went wrong

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Plans have been put on hold for a live-action film based on “Akira,” the celebrated manga and animated film by Katsuhiro Otomo, but that hasn’t stopped details of the stalled project from finding their way online.

After some early concept art for the film hit the ‘net last week, we now have even more details about the project, thanks to “Wrath of the Titans” actor Toby Kebbell.

Back in November, the British actor was named as one of the leading candidates to play Tetsuo, a teenager who’s abducted by the government after developing powerful psychic abilities. During the press junket for “Wrath of Titans” — in which he plays the demigod Agenor — Kebbell shed a little more light on what the role would’ve entailed, the concerns he had about playing Tetsuo, and where he thinks the project went awry.

“Yes, that was genuine,” said Kebbell of the initial reports linking him to the role of Tetsuo. “I also got sent an email from a brother of mine that had all of these people’s faces, and I was like, ‘Shit! All of those people are going for it as well? Bastards!'”

“I’m probably never going to get an opportunity again to do [‘Akira’],” he said, adding that his initial take on the script left him feeling a bit, well… concerned.

“They were like, ‘This is going to be a big franchise!'” he explained. “So I said, ‘Then in that case, understand that I’ve read the comics, and I’ve read the comics that got turned into the annuals, and then the annuals that got turned into the one-off anime. So if you really want to do it, then why don’t you look at the six comics and just put two into each film?'”

“That way my character, Tetsuo, is not the lead,” he continued. “He’s not the second lead, and he’s not the third or the fourth lead, because there are eight major characters there. You’ve got great young actors, and you could get them in there. That’s the way to do it if you want to do sequels.”

The studio’s response, according to Kebbell, was not exactly encouraging.

“They were like, ‘Welllll…'” he shrugged. “So I told them, ‘Then this is a remake [of the animated movie], and I don’t want to do a live-action remake of the cartoon, because [the cartoon] is perfect and you’re not going to do it dark enough — so therefore, I don’t want to do it.”

Still, Kebbell said the potential of an “Akira” movie was hard to ignore, and his feelings about the studio’s plans for the film were borne out of his appreciation for the source material. For Kebbell, the relationship between Tetsuo and Kaneda, the gang leader who takes Tetsuo under his wing and treats him like a younger brother, is the most important theme of the story and the element that’s most vital to preserve in any adaptation.

“I was desperate to play Tetsuo, but Tetsuo in the comic and annual form,” he explained. “He’s brilliant in the anime, but if you know anything about the comics, they cut so much of the story out. You care about him, because it’s brilliantly done, but you don’t really care about Kaneda, who isn’t.”

“The other thing they wanted to do was make [Tetsuo and Kaneda] brothers,” he continued. “I was like, ‘The point is that Tetsuo can’t comprehend how someone who isn’t his brother could love him so much — and that’s where his wrath and his rage come from. Do you not see that? Why have you made them brothers? What the fuck are you doing?'”

Now that the project’s been shelved, Kebbell says he doesn’t hold out much hope that he’ll be able to bring his vision for Tetsuo to the big screen — but if “Akira” does indeed get made, he hopes to see it done the right way.

“I was desperate to do it, but I just hoped they were going to take the six annuals and adapt them,” he reiterated. “Having said that, they’ll probably read this and go, ‘We’re never working with him again.’ But I wish they would. Sometimes it’s a shame that money rules, because there are great stories to be told out there.”

“Wrath of the Titans” hits theaters March 30, and stars Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Edgar Ramirez, and Toby Kebbell. Keep an eye on IFC.com for more from the “Wrath of the Titans” press junket.

What’s your take on the live-action “Akira” movie? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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