The Hollywood Reporter has learned that newcomer Keean Johnson (Nashville) has beat-out a handful of candidates for the role of Hugo in Robert Rodriguez‘s adaptation of the manga Alita: Battle Angel.
Keean Johnson, best known for his work on ABC’s Nashville, has nabbed the highly coveted part opposite Rosa Salazar, the actress who is playing the titular character in 20tth Century Fox’s big-budget sci-fi project.
Among those who tested were Tut star Avan Jogia, Douglas Booth (Jupiter Ascending), Jack Lowden (who will be seen in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming war drama Dunkirk), and Noah Silver, one of the stars of TVs Tyrant.
Set in the 26th century, Alita tells of a female cyborg (Salazar) that is discovered in a scrap 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.
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.
Hugo, is a love interest of sorts to Alita, so the role will most likely be a secondary lead. The rest of the cast includes Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Ed Skrein and Jackie Earle Haley.
Production begins this month in Austin, Texas with a release date set for July 20th, 2018.