class=”alignleft size-full wp-image-11576″ title=”akira” src=”” alt=”” width=”220″ height=”150″ />Sky Movies are reporting that Andrew Garfield, Robert Pattinson, and James McAvoy are on the shortlist for one of the lead roles, Tetsuo Shima, in the forthcoming live-action Akira movie, based on the Japanese manga of the same name.

The possibility of a live-action version of Akira, which was turned into the cult sensation animated film back in 1988, has existed for almost two decades, but was still to come close to development until recently, with a script written, and a director found in Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli, From Hell).

A script was originally written by Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli), and was then redrafted by Mark Fergus and Hawk Otsby (both of whom worked on Iron Man and the highly anticipated Cowboys & Aliens), and a further redraft has now been done by Steve Kloves. Kloves has been part of the writing team of every Harry Potter film to date, and is also a part of the team to write the script for the new Spider-Man reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man.

Garfield, whose role in The Social Network recently won him a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, has had a substantial boost to his career after landing the lead in The Amazing Spider-Man. Pattinson, too, has of course seen himself rise to meteoric fame through his role as Edward Cullen in the Twilight series, and the trailers for his upcoming film Water For Elephants demonstrates to me a greater capability than those who aren’t fans of Twilight might have expected. McAvoy has become another favourite British actor over the past few years, recently starring in Wanted, The Last King of Scotland, and the upcoming X-Men: First Class. Personally, I can’t decide which of the three I would prefer. I think my vote is leaning towards either Garfield or Pattinson, but my decision won’t be made until I see Water For Elephants in a few months’ time, and get a better idea of what he can do.

A longer list is currently in the rumour mill for starring opposite Garfield or Pattinson, including Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Chris Pine (Star Trek), Justin Timberlake (The Social Network), and Joaquin Phoenix (Walk The Line), all considered for the role of Kaneda Sh?tar?. Of these, I think Hedlund’s spectacular performance in last year’s Tron: Legacy assures my vote lies with him.

This live-action project for the franchise would take a bigger scope for it than the 1988 animation, giving it a span of two movies to film the original six-volume manga rather one two-hour film, which should grant it more freedom to immerse itself in the world of the original.

Provided the roles can be confirmed shortly, it is believed filming could begin as early as August this year, which could potentially mean that at least the first of the two films will see a 2012 release. I personally can’t wait. More news as we get it.