In a recent interview with Collider, the writer and executive producer of Skydance Television’s Sword Art Online Live-Action series, Laeta Kalogridis, said that the series has been sold to Netflix and that the main leads, Kirito and Asuna, will be played by Asian actors.
Kalogridis’ full response to Collider’s question about what she would like to see in a Live-Action adaptation of Sword Art Online is as follows:
Well, let’s get the obvious bit out of the way, right away. SAO is an essentially Japanese property, in which Kirito and Asuna, who are the two leads, are Japanese. In the television show, Kirito and Asuna will be played by Asian actors. Whether or not that was the question underneath your question, it’s not a conversation about whitewashing. When I sold it to Netflix, we were all on the same page. They are not interested in whitewashing it, and I am not interested in whitewashing it. In terms of the secondary characters, because the game is meant to be global, the way it’s presented in the anime and in the light novels, there are secondary characters that clearly are from other parts of the world, like Klein and Agil. To me, it’s very obvious when you watch it that you’re meant to take that this game spans the globe, but Kirito and Asuna are very clearly located as kids from Japan, and Tokyo, if I’m not mistaken. That is what we will be doing because that is the story. They are, in my mind anyway, much like Major Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell, defined in part by being seminal characters in an Asian piece of art. That’s the first and biggest thing.
Kalogridis had been signed on to write the script for the live-action Ghost in the Shell film in 2009, but did not have any input in the final version of the script for the film that debuted last year. She also penned a script for the upcoming Alita: Battle Angel film.
Patrick Massett and John Zinman, executive producers for Friday Night Lights and writers of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, will be serving as showrunners for the series as well as penning the pilot script along with Kalogridis. Skydance’s Marcy Ross, David Ellison, and Dana Goldberg are also executive producing alongside them.