Jordan Peele is a man of many talents, with acting, directing, producing, and writing credits all under his belt. He began his career performing with groups such as The Second City in Chicago, and Boom Chicago in Amsterdam during his early 20s, even hosting MTV’s Comedy Weekend in 2002. However, Peele’s breakout role came in 2003, when he joined the cast of Fox sketch TV series Mad TV for its ninth season.
It is here that he met Keegan-Michael Key, who became the other half of their comedy duo Key and Peele. The pair had their own show on Comedy Central which ran from 2012 to 2015 and even starred as FBI agents together in the FX series Fargo. With the success of his comedy on Mad TV, Peele was nominated for an Emmy for his song ‘Sad Fifty Cent,’ in 2008, a parody of rapper 50 Cent and his rivalry with Kanye West.
Although Peele became a big name in American comedy during the mid-2000s and early 2010s, he has since proved he is just as good at working behind the camera, directing his first film in 2017. Labelled as a “subversive horror masterpiece”, Peele’s satirical horror Get Out was released to much critical and commercial success. Starring British actor Daniel Kaluuya as Chris, a photographer from Brooklyn, and Allison Williams as his girlfriend Rose, the film is a terrifying social critique that unearths the extreme depths of racism.
Get Out earned four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, however, Peele took home the award for Best Original Screenplay, becoming the first-ever black recipient. In 2021, the Writer’s Guild of America even named Get Out’s screenplay the greatest script of the 21st century. Bouncing off the success of Get Out, Peele created the series The Last O.G in 2018, and co-produced the Spike Lee film BlacKkKlansmen, which was later nominated for Best Picture.
However, his second directing endeavour was 2019’s Us, starring Lupita Nyong’o, Elisabeth Moss, and Winston Duke, a thrilling horror about doppelgängers, which also received much commercial and critical acclaim. Not slowing down, Peele co-wrote and co-produced 2021’s Candyman, directed by Nia DeCosta, which was released to fairly positive reviews, although not comparable in strength to Get Out, or even Us.
It’s no surprise that after the success of Peele’s film contributions he has been asked to direct a live-action remake of the classic anime Akira. The original, released in 1988, was directed by Katsuhiro Otomo and based on his manga of the same name. It is widely regarded as one of the most important animated films ever made, a landmark in adult animation, the cyberpunk genre, and Japanese animation.
Rather controversially, a live-action remake has been in the works for decades, however, recent updates suggest that the production will be moving forward this year, and will be produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. It seems like a risky move for Warner Bros and DiCaprio’s own Appian Way to back the project, since previous live-action anime remakes, such as Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell have not fared well.
In truth, production of Akira could either become the live-action remake eager fans have hoped for, or a commercial failure. Regardless, it begs the question of whether such a beloved animated film needs to be made into a live-action adaptation in the first place.
When asked about his potential involvement in the production, Peele said that Akira was actually one of his favourite films of all time. Nonetheless, he said “I think obviously the story justifies as big a budget as you can possibly dream of” but “do I want to do pre-existing material, or do I want to do original content? At the end of the day, I want to do original stuff.”