Deadline reports that British actor Sam Riley (Maleficent, Control, On The Road,) is now in talks to join Scarlett Johansson and Pilou Asbæk in the Ghost In The Shell movie. He would play hacker terrorist villain The Laughing Man in film. Snow White and The Huntsman‘s Rupert Sanders is set to direct the film with production starting up soon in New Zealand, the country is expected to double for Japan.
The story follows a female special ops cyborg (Johansson) who leads a fictional counter-cyberterrorist organization called Public Security Section 9 for Hanka Robotics. The unit is devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists, led by The Laughing Man (Riley) who will stop at nothing to destroy Hanka’s advancements in cyber technology.
The Laughing Man (笑い男 Warai Otoko?), Aoi (アオイ?), is a corporate terrorist hacker with a fascination with J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye whose name come from Salinger’s short story, The Laughing Man. He is an expert hacker, able to hide his physical presence by editing himself out of video feeds and cybernetic eyes, concealing his identity by superimposing an animated logo over his face, and hijacking cybernetic brains altogether, all in real-time.
I had hoped they would go for the villain Puppet Master, but I’m sure if successful they’ll attempt to use him in the future. While it might have been problematic to have hired an Asian actor in the main villain role, we would like to see this Japanese source material represented a bit better with it’s casting.
There’s still a huge worry that we’ll end up seeing a mostly white cast here, which seemingly is bucking from what we had expected to see. Having The Major and Batou played by western actors since the characters are full cyborgs and could be played by anyone, with the rest of the roles filled with Asian actors. There are still a huge amount of roles yet to be cast as characters like Section 9’s Daisuke Aramaki, Togusa, and Ishikawa.