Netflix has announced that John Cho is starring in the streamer's live-action Cowboy Bebop TV show. The original Cowboy Bebop anime series ran for 26 episodes in the late 1990s and followed the adventures of a bounty hunter crew (traveling aboard the spaceship Bebop) in the year 2071. A unique blend of sci-fi, western, and noir tropes, the property was a critical success that went on to become quite popular in both Japan and the U.S., and has since given rise to manga series, video games, and even an animated movie adaptation in the early 2000s.
Unsurprisingly, there've been rumors and discussions about a live-action Cowboy Bebop film for much of the last ten years, but with little to show for it. That changed last year when Netflix got involved and announced that it would be producing a live-action TV series adaptation instead, for release exclusively through its streaming service. With a creative team already firmly in place, the show has since taken to filling out its cast, beginning with its cigarette-smoking protagonist, Spike Spiegel.
Today, Netflix confirmed that Cho will be playing Spike on the live-action Cowboy Bebop series. The streamer further announced three more cast members in the forms of Mustafa Shakir (Marvel's Luke Cage), Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), and Alex Hassell (Suburbicon) as, respectively, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, and Vicious. Read on for the the official descriptions of these characters.
- Spike Spiegel is an impossibly cool “cowboy” (bounty hunter) with a deadly smile, a wry wit, and style to spare. He travels the solar system with his ex-cop partner, Jet, pursuing the future’s most dangerous bounties with a combination of charm, charisma - and deadly Jeet Kune Do.
- Jet Black was one of the few honest cops in the solar system before an ultimate betrayal robbed him of all that he loved, forcing him into a vagabond life of hunting bounties to put food on the table. Jet is an inveterate jazz enthusiast and Captain of the Bebop.
- Faye Valentine is a bold, brash and unpredictable bounty hunter. Suffering from amnesia after years of being cryogenically frozen, Faye does whatever it takes to survive. Whether she’s lying, stealing, or just being a thorn in Spike and Jet’s side.
- A man who thoroughly enjoys a good kill, Vicious is the Syndicate’s most notorious hitman. He’s also Spike Spiegel’s ex-partner and arch-enemy.
While there were early concerns that Cowboy Bebop might whitewash the role of Spike (a la the live-action Ghost in the Shell movie adaptation), it's been reported for a while now that the series' showrunners were specifically seeking an Asian-American actor to play the role. They made pretty much the prefect choice too, as Cho has already demonstrated his versatility as an actor with roles in everything from the Harold & Kumar movies to the rebooted Star Trek reboot films, and last year's innovative mystery-thriller Searching. The rest of the Cowboy Bebop cast announced so far are equally capable, which bodes well for future announcements and the quality of the live-action series at large.
Indeed, between Cowboy Bebop and Avatar: The Last Airbender, there are some genuinely promising live-action series based on popular animated shows in the pipeline at Netflix right now. In the former's case, it no doubt helps that Shinichiro Watanabe, the director of the Cowboy Bebop anime series, is consulting on the live-action reimagining. The series is further being show-run and/or produced by Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, Jeff Pinkner, and Scott Rosenberg, whose collective body of genre television work (Life on Mars, Fringe, Zoo, Knightfall) speaks for itself.
Cowboy Bebop will kick-off with a ten-episode season on Netflix. We will let you know when an official premiere date is announced.