Death Note Cast & Director Talk Changes from Manga

We chat with Adam Wingard, Nat Wolff, and Margaret Qualley about how Netflix's Death Note reimagines a familiar story for manga fans.

With over 30 million copies in print circulation, an anime series, four Japanese films, video games, off-shoot novels, and even a musical under its belt, the Japanese manga phenomena that is Death Note is still finding its way to new audiences every day.  The newest iteration comes in the form of a Netflix original film that is now streaming.

Directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next, Blair Witch, and the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong), and starring Nat Wolff (Paper Towns), Margaret Qualley (The Nice Guys), Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta), and the voice of Willem Dafoe, the film follows Light Turner as he gains possession of a powerful book that allows him to bring death upon anyone. He must merely write the intended target’s name in the notebook while imagining the person’s face as he does so.  The book of course, comes with a powerful God of Death, Ryuk, who makes sure every name light writes down, meets their proper demise.

Once Light grasps what the book can do for him, he and his new love Mia begin creating their own religion by killing off the most wanted criminals in the world, all under the guise that a powerful deity named “Kira.”

And yet, there is one man out there who knows Kira is just a lie and is determined to find out who is behind these killings; the ultra-secretive, sugar addicted super-sleuth who goes only by the name “L.”

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While the main story is intact in this Netflix version of Death Note, there are a lot of different takes and fresh ideas being explored in the film. Light is still a misguided megalomaniac, but this time around he appears a little more controlled and subdued compared to his manga/anime variation.  Mia is also a completely new character to the saga, not appearing before in any real form in the past.

We sat down with the director and stars of the film to discuss what it takes to bring this type of heralded work to a different audience, and the difference between their version and the works that came before it.