Thanks to seltaeb65 from our forums for posting the following article from USA Today.

Emile Hirsch was 6 years old when he saw his first episode of the cartoon Speed Racer and, more important, caught a glimpse of the Mach 5.

“It was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen,” Hirsch says by phone from Germany, where filming will begin next week on the movie adaptation. “That’s when I started thinking it would be great to be on TV. And have one of those.”

Sixteen years later, he finally got behind the wheel of the speedster, which gets its first look here and will be at the heart of the film, due May 9, 2008.

“My first thought was, ‘Yeah, they got the car right,’ ” he says. “That’s one of the best things about the show, so it was always going to be one of the most important parts of the movie.”

That and the return of Andy and Larry Wachowski, the brothers who are making their first directorial effort since The Matrix trilogy.

Like Hirsch, the brothers grew up on the popular 1960s Japanese cartoon about the adventures of a racing family — and its pet chimpanzee, Chim Chim.

“The TV show was the brothers’ introduction to Japanese animation,” says Joel Silver, a friend of the press-shy Wachowskis and producer of Racer and the Matrix films. “They fell in love with the genre. They said they’d been making R-rated movies their whole lives and wanted to do something their nephews and nieces could watch.”

The film, Silver says, will have a “retro future” look and will center on Speed (Hirsch) trying to make a name for himself in the racing world despite the efforts of corporate giants to foil his career. The film also stars Christina Ricci as girlfriend Trixie and Matthew Fox as Speed’s older brother, Racer X.

Like the Matrix films and the Wachowski-produced V for Vendetta, Racer “has a lot to say about remaining independent and thinking for yourself,” Hirsch says. “The brothers weren’t just looking to do the TV show on film.”

Unlike those darker movies, Racer “is going to be very bright, very family-friendly,” Silver says. “And it will have great effects like The Matrix, just with the car.”

A car that will not see much time on pavement. The Mach 5 will be placed on a crane and most effects will be computer-generated.

One real effect, though: Chim Chim.

“They’re using a real monkey,” Hirsch says. “Just don’t call him that. He’s a chimpanzee. He gets upset if you call him a monkey.”