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George Takei, who voiced the Warden (Imprisoned) character, was recently interviewed by The Advocate magazine. He thinks executives at Warner Bros. aren't learning from past mistakes with attempts to cast white actors in a film adaptation of AKIRA. In the interview, he used The Last Airbender movie to illustrate his point:
"The same thing happened with M. Night Shyamalan. He cast his project [The Last Airbender] with non-Asians and it’s an Asian story, and the film flopped. I should think that they would learn from that, but I guess big studios go by rote, and the tradition in Hollywood has always been to buy a project, change it completely and flop with it. I think it’s pointless, so I thought I would save Warner Bros. a bit of failure by warning them of what will most likely happen if they continue in that vein."
He notes that part of the problem is due nonbankable Asian American actors:
"African-Americans have made enormous advances. There are a whole host of bankable stars who are African-American. Can you name one bankable Asian-American star? No. There isn’t. You have Denzel Washington, Samuel Jackson. A whole host of them. One can’t name a single Asian-American whose name you can take to the bank and get a project financed. We are making headways. I’m not a pessimist. We have made tremendous headways from the time I started in this business in 1957."
The interview is HERE. It's a good read overall. Two things I would like to point out to George Takei:
- The movie didn't flop financially - it is still the most successful Nickelodeon Movie.
- The sequel will be set in the Earth Kingdom so Asians and blacks would be prominent - a great opportunity to showcase new talents.
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