Adapting a beloved franchise for a new audience is always difficult, but it seemed like Netflix’s Death Note had a lot of cards stacked against it going in. After all, the Japanese original source material is already a huge worldwide phenomenon; the manga’s sold 30 million copies and spawned a 37-episode anime series, four live action movies (plus another short film and miniseries), and even a musical.
So how do you find a way to stand out and make something new while still keeping true to what the fans already love? To find that out, Nerdist sat down with director Adam Wingard and stars Nat Wolff, Margaret Qualley, and Lakeith Stanfield — who, I should let you know now, chose to conduct all his interviews in character as the mysterious and eccentric detective “L” — to ask them all about how their Death Note movie is different, from the way the characters behave to the fantastically shocking Final Destination-style action sequences.
One of the biggest things you’ll notice when Death Note premieres on August 25 is how Light Turner’s personality differs from his Japanese counterpart, Light Yagami. While the latter seems like an upstanding brilliant student on the surface, this new American Light is a much more disaffected outcast. Wingard says this change had to do with “the locale setting in Seattle, having fun with the idea that he’s this loner grunge kid, it was just something fun and different. Nat Wolff was cast because he sort of had this clumsy brilliance to him that I was kind of looking for.”
Wolff added, “They made these really great versions of Death Note already in Japan and they were very close to the anime. Because that had already been done, I think Adam kind of wanted to turn this movie on his head.”
Light’s love interest and Death Note-wielding partner, Mia, is also very different than the original's Misa, to the point where she’s almost a completely different character. “She’s a cheerleader, she seems pretty popular, but I think she kind of feels aimless and misunderstood,” Margaret Qualley said.
And what does Lakeith Stansfield think of how his character manifests in this new adaptation? See for yourself, because he’s still playing him. (Pro-tip: when a movie star asks you if you want to high five and then extends out his bare foot, do it. You will probably not regret it.)
Will you be checking out the Death Note movie when it hits Netflix? Let us know in the comments below!
Image: James Dittiger/Netflix
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