Media Consumers for Entertainment Equality
All You Need is Kill is a Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.
Warner Bros. secured the rights to the film adaptation spec script penned by Dante Harper in April 2010. Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) was tapped to direct the film in August 2010.
Coming Soon: I think “All You Need is Kill” is one of the ones you’ve been eyeing next, which is interesting because it’s based on a Japanese book, so are you going to go for Japanese lead actors?
Liman: No, it’s totally American.
Hopefully Liman realizes actors of Asian descent can also depict American characters, and that characters need not be white in order to be American.
Certainly changes will be made to the story in adaptations, such as setting a story in the United States instead of Japan. What disappoints us is that when these adaptations are reset to America, they do not reflect the diversity of the United States.
Other main characters in the novel, such as Rita Vrataski, do not have Japanese names and serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, so it is not as if white actors would not have an opportunity to feature in this film if the protagonist, Keiji, were cast as an Asian American.
Many people are of Asian descent but are also “totally American.” Many of these Americans serve in the armed forces. A search of the Japanese American Military Experience Database shows over 20 people named “Keiji” enlisted in the United States military during World War II.
In the April 2010 draft film script, the hero’s name has been anglicized from “Keiji Kiriya” to “Billy Cage.”
The anglicization of Asian names is a red flag to us based on precedent. In the famous science fiction novel Starship Troopers, the protagonist was a Filipino named Juan Rico. In the 1997 film adaptation, his name was changed to “Johnny” and he was cast with a white actor. An opportunity for an Asian American actor in the genre of science fiction was completely lost.
Changing Keiji Kiriya’s name to the less “ethnic-sounding” name “Billy Cage” raises concerns that Asian American actors will not even be in the running for this first-billed roles.
Science Fiction/Fantasy is a genre that has characters with names like Kal-El, T’challa, Worf, Neytiri, Teal’c, Cthulhu, Meriadoc Brandybuck, Leeloo, and Slartibartfast. Why was it necessary to change Keiji Kiriya to Billy Cage?
On September 23rd,2011 New York Magazine – Vulture reported that Warner Bros. has made an offer to Brad Pitt for him to star in All You Need is Kill.
On December 1st, 2011, Tom Cruise was cast in the lead role.
First promotional photo of Tom Cruise as “Billy Cage”: