Netflix’s live-action version of Death Note is set to make its debut on the 25th of August 2017, with it now being revealed that the leading roles were almost not given to actors who star in the film today. It turns out that originally Masi Oka wanted to cast an Asian actor in the role for L; however, he couldn’t find one that fit the criteria.
Being a live-action film based on an anime, one could understand why the people in charge of production would want an Asian born cast. In the years gone by, many live-action adaptations have been an all-Asian cast, with Full Metal Alchemist that is set to be released this year, is an example of this.
“Our casting directors did an extensive search to get Asian actors, but we couldn’t find the right person; the actors we did go to didn’t speak the perfect English,” said Oka in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
Since this comment was made, many fans were insulted by these claim, with Oka saying that they misunderstood his statement.
“I meant specifically Asians, actors from Asia who don’t speak English as their first language,” he then told BuzzFeed after being criticized.
“I made the assumption that people would understand I was going outside of the United States to make it more of a global franchise, “ continued Oka.
Because the film is now set in Seattle and not in Japan, it makes sense for Oka to have cast American actors in the lead roles instead. In the past adaptations for Japanese anime have come under fire due to casting, with Scarlett Johansson’s leading role for Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell, is a recent example.
Netflix’s Death Note is inspired by the works that were originally created by Japanese manga illustrator Tsugumi Ohba. Since Ohba created Death Note, the anime has inspired a number of games, live-action adaptations, and an animated series.