5 better choices of actors than John Cho as Spike Spiegel in ‘Cowboy Bebop
(Credit: Netflix)

Editor's Choice

5 better choices of actors than John Cho as Spike Spiegel in 'Cowboy Bebop

Months back, we at Best of Netflix opined that Netflix does a pretty sloppy job of adapting popular anime series into live-action titles. When they cast Harold & Kumar star John Cho as Spike Spiegel, inarguably one of the coolest characters in the history of anime, in their live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop, poor viewership and imminent cancellation seemed inevitable.

While Andre Nemec, the creator of the show, tried to hype it up, Cho, Daniella Pineda and Mustafa Shakir, who star as Spiegel, Valentine and Jet Black respectively, could not save the colourless disaster from the depths. . While the CGI effects are top-notch, and despite retaining the original jazzy soundtrack, the action was not as well-stylised or suave as that of the original anime.  

The 1998 anime had a massive fanbase that was pretty miffed with the Netflix adaptation. We could kill to see Samuel L. Jackson as Jet Black, uttering his characteristic “motherf****er” every now and then. Similarly, according to us, John Cho did not leave an indelible impression as the cult-like hero who battles adversaries in a futuristic universe with his ragtag team of bounty hunters, and would rather be replaced.

Here are five actors who would have been a better choice for Spike Spiegel than John Cho in Cowboy Bebop:

5 better choice of actors than John Cho as Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop:

Joe Keery

Joe Keery became a household name following his reprising role as Steve Harrington in Netflix’s Stranger Things. Initially, a douche and a bully, Steve’s redemptive arc is top-notch. The creators flesh out his character very well and Keery is brilliant as the sensitive, witty yet sometimes slow, Steve, who can also endure a severe beating.

Keery’s simple, boyish charm and overall swagger are a perfect addition to the cool hand-to-hand combat skills he displayed as Steve on the show. Also, his iconic hair would be a brilliant addition to his natural Spike Spiegel-like charisma.

Ross Butler

Ross Butler was seen as Zach Dempsey in 13 Reasons Why. Zach, Hannah Baker’s ex-boyfriend, was the seventh reason why she committed suicide. Charles Melton later succeeded him in Riverdale after his brief stint as Reggie.

As Spike Spiegel, not only would his Asian heritage be befitting but his American roots would help add a western sensibility to the character in the dubbed, live-action version. Pretty well-built, he would be a perfect match both physically and emotionally as he is well-versed in playing layered and complex characters (though the actor avoids Asian-specific roles).

Takeshi Kaneshiro

Takeshi Kaneshiro is the iconic ’90s heartthrob. From Chungking Express to Fallen Angels, Kaneshiro has been the ultimate dream guy in East Asian cinema whose appeal was further enhanced by Wong Kar-wai’s genius direction. In Chungking Express, especially, his constant yearning for his ex presented an unparalleled and beautiful portrait of a heartbroken man for whom our hearts bled.

Immensely talented, Kaneshiro’s natural charm makes him the perfect Spike Spiegel. The 48-year-old actor could also reprise the role of an aged-up Spiegel pretty well, way better than Cho did.

Lakeith Stanfield

While Stanfield might not have a physical semblance to Spiegel, he can very well match in terms of unabashed swagger and cool demeanour. Stanfield has appeared in a variety of films, namely Knives Out, Straight Outta Compton, Judas and the Black Messiah and more.

His appearance as the eccentric visionary and stoner man, Darius Epps in Atlanta earned him praise and acclaim. Not only would Stanfield add a brilliant twist to Spiegel’s character but also effortlessly embody Spike’s bizarre mannerisms and style.

Ryan Reynolds

Ryan Reynolds would have been the ultimate Spike Spiegel. Already known for his versatility, Reynolds’ coolness quotient was upped by his appearance as the irreverent, crass-talking, genre-subverting titular superhero in Deadpool. While Reynolds has been brilliant in varied roles, from a robber to a time traveller, he would surely be a brilliant bounty hunter on a precarious journey through the universe.

While John Cho and the Netflix series tried pretty hard to pull off a Deadpool-esque aesthetic by combining humour and action in the sci-fi-noir series, one cannot rival Reynolds in meta-comedy. Not only would he manage to be as suave and charming as Spike but also be able to uphold his emotional turmoil pretty well.