THR: Johnson plays “love interest” Hugo, who teaches Alita a gladiator-style game


Entertainment news source The Hollywood Reporter revealed last Friday that James Cameron‘s Alita: Battle Angel, the live-action film of Yukito Kishiro‘s Battle Angel Alita (GUNNMmanga, has signed on Keean Johnson (Nashville,Spooksville). According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Johnson will play Hugo, a young man who teaches Alita how to play a gladiator-style game called Motorball but who also has a secret side job stealing robot parts.” The site further describes him as “the love interest.”

The film crew also tested Avan Jogia, Douglas Booth, Jack Lowden, and Noah Silver for the role, but sought an “ethnically ambiguous” actor.

Film news websites Collider and The Hollywood Reporter stated in May that the film has cast Rosa Salazar (Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, Man Seeking Woman) in the lead role. The Hollywood Reporter has also reported that Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, Spectre, The Legend of Tarzan) has signed on to play Doctor Dyson Ido, “the cybersurgeon who finds the cyborg [protagonist] and becomes her mentor.” Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen, A Nightmare on Elm Street remake, Preacher, The Dark Tower, The Birth of a Nation) will additionally play “a monstrous cyborg in a villain role that will call for plenty of CG and greenscreen,” while Ed Skrein (The Transporter Refueled,Deadpool) will play Zapan, “a villainous cyborg who is in possession of a weapon called the Damascus blade.”

Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Sin City, Spy Kids) is set to direct the film. James Cameron and his Lightstorm Entertainment partner Jon Landau are producing the project, and Shutter Island’s Laeta Kalogridis penned a script. The production crew aims to start filming this October in Austin. Fox has scheduled the film for a wide release on July 20, 2018.

The Hollywood Reporter described the film:

Set in the 26th century, Alita: Battle Angel tells of a female cyborg that is discovered in a trash yard by a scientist. With no memory of her previous life except her deadly martial arts training, the woman becomes a bounty hunter, tracking down criminals.

The action-adventure story is meant to serve as a backdrop to themes of self-discovery and the search for love.


Kishiro’s manga ran in Shueisha‘s Business Jump magazine from 1990 to 1995, followed by the 1995-1996 prequel Ashen Victor and the single-volume GUNNM: Other Stories. The story continued in 2001 with the partial retelling Battle Angel Alita: Last Order, which moved toKodansha‘s Evening magazine as the result of an issue between Kishiro and Shueisha‘s Ultra Jump magazine. The newest manga,Gunnm: Kasei Senki (Battle Angel Alita: The Martian War Chronicles), launched in Kodansha‘s Evening magazine in 2014.

Image top right courtesy of Collin Stark
Thanks to Daniel Zelter for the news tip.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision Blog (Borys Kit) via Dark Horizons

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