John Cho explains his role in Netflix’s new live-action ‘Cowboy Bebop’
(Credit: Netflix)

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John Cho explains his role in Netflix's new live-action 'Cowboy Bebop'

The 1998 anime Cowboy Bebop has become a major household phenomenon with just 26 episodes that led to two manga series, an anime film and more. In 2017, with the announcement of the live-action reboot, fans were left feeling ecstatic but the wait has been a little arduous. Netflix gained streaming rights in 2018 and will be premiering the live-action series on November 19, 2021.

The premise of the show sees a ragtag team of bounty hunters engage in outer space travel as they deal with their past trauma and battle some of the most daunting adversaries across the solar system. This genre-transcending anime has a jazzy and light-hearted vibe which made it an instant favourite, along with the cute Pembrokeshire corgi named Ein who became a defining figure from the series. 

Actors John Cho, Daniella Pineda and Mustafa Shakri are taking on the roles of Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine and Jet Black, respectively. A lot of recent backlashes has been aimed at Faye’s seemingly “boring” outfit, which, according to Kylie Cheung, is a result of “horny male outrage” that results from the trolls in the basement of the world, to whom female characters are nothing but tools of sexual gratification. 

Ahead of its release, the series has also faced a lot of heat regarding the casting choice for the suave Spike Spiegel, played by Cho. A veteran in the cinema industry, Cho is most prominently known for his role in Harold & Kumar franchise but will take on the role of the handsome bounty hunter. 

The role requires the 49-year-old actor to engage in a lot of high-strung action which led to an injury for the actor. Having torn his ACL ligament in his knee, production was stalled momentarily while he underwent physical therapy.

The actor opened up about his struggle with Vulture when he spoke about the incident, revealing, “It was real wonky. We had been shooting all night, and I was doing kind of an athletic move as the sun was coming up. It was probably a lack of sleep. Just a little move and [I was down] … Then you have your surgery and you go into rehab.”

The actor expressed how he was focused on getting healthy for the sake of the film while recuperating at home. “Doing those knee exercises, I was like, I gotta put my focus into this,” Cho explained. “I felt very guilty that I had let the production down, and my cast, and the crew in New Zealand that had had a job, and then they didn’t the next day. And I didn’t feel that I could come back and half-ass this role. I had to take it deadly seriously.”

Cho, who was seen over a decade ago as Sulu on Star Trek, appears fitter than ever. Although fans have raised questions regarding his age, the actor looks fit and ripped in his role as the smooth-talking bounty hunter. He defended himself and said that he is “strangely better suited at this age” to play Spike as he feels like he would not have “done justice to the emotional depth” of the character had he been younger. 

He compared the aspects of playing the character at a young age versus a mature age and had a very interesting take: “What young men are typically best at, as actors, is rage,” he said. “And that might’ve been a more pronounced element in the character. What I’m better at, being older, is showing weakness and vulnerability and love.”

According to Cho’s “taste”, this was the version that was more “accessible” and “prefer[able]” to him. While fans eagerly wait for the live-action series to stream, we hope it does justice to the original source material and lives up to its greatness.