69-year-old set to play key role in Hollywood anime adaptation.

DreamWorks Pictures’ upcoming live-action version of hit manga and anime Ghost in the Shell has ruffled the feathers of a few fans, and not just because of the many, many years that have passed since the still-unfinished picture was first announced. The choice of actress Scarlett Johansson to play the lead role of Motoko Kusanagi has been a divisive decision, with one side of the debate saying the star power she brings gives the project the sort of legitimacy it needs to procure the production and marketing funds necessary to do its exalted source material justice.

On the other hand, others are upset that the Japanese Kusanagi will be being portrayed by the Caucasian Johansson. A common rebuttal to that complaint has been that in the cybernetics-steeped world of Ghost in the Shell, most characters’ bodies are largely artificial, so it’s feasible that Kusanagi could simply opt to put her ghost in a non-Japanese-looking shell with no greater significance attached to the action than wearing a foreign-made piece of clothing.

Still, those hoping for some sort of Japanese presence on-screen were no doubt disappointed when Danish actor Pilou Asbaek was tapped as the ethnically ambiguous Batou, followed by Caucasian American Michael Pitt as the terrorist antagonist Laughing Man. Now, though, the live-action Ghost in the Shell has its first Japanese cast member, and it’s none other than the internationally acclaimed Beat Takeshi.

It’s not like the 69-year-old Takeshi will be making a cameo as a street food vendor or some other such minor background character. He’ll be playing Daisuke Aramaki, the head of Public Security Section 9 and the highest-ranking member of Ghost in the Shell’s team of heroes.

The role marks Takeshi’s first role in a Hollywood movie since another cyberpunk film, Johnny Mnemonic. Given how much more well-known he’s become overseas in the last two decades, it’s likely Takeshi will receive much more screen time than he did in the 1995 Keanu Reeves film.

In regards to Ghost in the Shell, Kitano commented “As it’s a work of stylish entertainment that’s completely different from my own directorial projects, I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.” And while Takeshi is both taller and stockier than the extremely diminutive Aramaki, the actor has already expressed a respectful fondness for Section 9’s director, describing him as “A compelling character who emits a unique presence.”

DreamWorks’ Ghost in the Shell is currently scheduled to open on March 31, 2017.

Source: Oricon Style via Hachima Kiko