M. Night Shyamalan takes two steps forward with Airbender casting…but is it enough?

devpatelFor “Avatar” fans, the good news from Variety on Sunday evening was that pop artist Jesse McCartney will no longer be playing the role of Zuko in M. Night Shyamalan’s live-adaptation of the Nickelodeon animated series (to be called The Last Airbender). When this was announced back in December, there was a huge uproar and a fan-driven campaign to let Paramount Pictures know that the series’ fanbase is upset with its casting choices.

The article quoted Shyamalan who said that McCartney had “tour dates that conflicted with a boot camp I always hold on my films, and where the actors here have to train for martial arts.”

Instead, Slumdog Millionnaire star Dev Patel will be taking over as the nominal “bad guy” of the movie from the Fire Nation, and off-Broadway star Jessica Jade Anders will be playing the role of Suki, a female warrior from the Earth Kingdom… which many fans are already interpreting as throwing the fanbase a bone and continuing to do minority actors a disservice by casting them only as villains or in bit parts.

I do have to say that my favorite part so far of this whole developing story is the part where MTV.com didn’t take down an interview with the outgoing McCartney which was originally posted just two days before Variety’s story broke, wherein he says of the objections to his being cast:

“I heard a lot about this online,” McCartney said, referring to fans’ criticism. “There’s a lot of hard-core fans out there [who] probably know more about it…. I’m still learning. This is M. Night’s vision and this is what he wants. To all the fans, I can tell you I’m putting my best foot forward.”


Related Posts: The Last Airbender gets cast of unknowns

Posted on February 2, 2009 at 23:35 by Trisha Lynn · Permalink
In: News

One Response

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  1. Written by David
    on 2009-02-09 at 00:45

    I don’t see why this is necessary. Zuko is voiced by Dante Basco, who you all should know as the kid who voiced Rufio in Hook. He’s a bit older than the part calls for, but he really doesn’t look either too old or too much unlike the character. He’s a pretty damn good fit, and you get to keep the awesome voice the fans loved. Obviously this wont work for every character, but when filmmakers have an opportunity like this, I can’t understand why they don’t capitalize on it. Meaning no offense to Dev Patel, an amazing actor in his own right, but if they’re trying to please the fans, they have the simplest solution in front of them plain as day, and they’re just looking past it.

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