Michael Pitt in Talks to Play Villain in Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Ghost in the Shell’

Rupert Sanders is directing the adaptation of the popular Japanese manga for DreamWorks and Paramount

Michael Pitt is in talks to play the villain opposite Scarlett Johansson in DreamWorks’ live-action adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell,” an individual familiar with the project has told TheWrap.

Based on the popular Japanese manga created by Masamune Shirow, the story follows a female special ops cyborg (Johansson) who leads an elite task force called Section 9, which is devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists. She faces a stylish, hacker enemy named The Laughing Man (Pitt) whose singular goal is to wipe out Hanka Robotic’s advancements in cyber technology.

Rupert Sanders (“Snow White and the Huntsman”) is directing the movie, which will also feature Johansson’s “Lucy” co-star Pilou Asbæk as high-ranking warrior Batou.

Ari Arad, Avi Arad and Steven Paul are producing the Jonathan Herman-scripted film, which has been a passion project for DreamWorks principal Steven Spielberg. Michael Costigan and Jeffrey Silver serve as executive producers alongside Tetsu Fujimura and Mitsuhisa Ishikawa.

Paramount will co-finance and distribute the big-budget movie on March 31, 2017.

After co-starring on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and NBC’s “Hannibal,” Pitt will soon be seen alongside Ryan Reynolds in the thriller “Criminal.” He recently signed on to star opposite Imogen Poots in the indie movie “The Sleeping Shepherd.” He’s represented by CAA, LBI Entertainment and Schreck Rose.