Actor in the driver's seat

Emile Hirsch is in final talks to star in the Wachowski brothers’ “Speed Racer” for producer Joel Silver and Warner Bros. Pictures, putting the tentpole project into full throttle.

Based on the 1960s Japanese cartoon series by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida, pic will follow the adventures of the youthful Speed — played by Hirsch — as he tries to obtain victory in his tricked-out Mach 5 racecar, built by his father.

Speed is often bailed out of danger by Racer X, a rival with a mysterious connection to Speed. Part has not been cast.

Warners recently moved up the opening date of “Speed Racer” two weeks to May 9, 2008 and will release it day-and-date in most international markets.

Film marks Larry and Andy Wachowski’s first directing effort since the “Matrix” trilogy, which Silver produced through his Warners-based Silver Pictures banner. The brothers penned 2005’s “V for Vendetta.”

Warners and Village Roadshow Pictures are co-financing “Speed Racer,” which begins production this summer.

Hirsch (“Lords of Dogtown”) is next in theaters with “Into the Wild,” directed by Sean Penn. Film, which Paramount Vantage releases this fall, is based on Jon Krakauer’s nonfiction tome about the life and death of Christopher McCandless, who abandoned his life to move to the Alaskan wilderness.

Silver produced three pics for Warners that bow this year: “The Invasion,” starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig; “The Brave One,” starring Jodie Foster; and holiday laffer “Fred Claus,” starring Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti.

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