The core cast of Netflix’s live-action series adaptation of Cowboy Bebop has been revealed, and it’s going to take some serious thought to see just how well this plays out. John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, Daniella Pineda, and Alex Hassell will lead the series, described for those who’ve never seen the original incredible Sunrise anime as a “jazz-inspired, genre-bending story of a rag-tag crew of bounty hunters on the run from their pasts, as they hunt down the solar system’s most dangerous criminals.”
First up, Cho (Star Trek, Searching) will star as Spike Spiegel, “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 will be played by Shakir (Marvel’s Luke Cage). “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.”
Rounding out the crew of the Bebop is Pineda (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom; What/If) as Faye Valentine, “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.” Don’t worry, fans, hacker extraordinaire Radical Edward (a.k.a. Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivruski IV, a.k.a. Françoise Appledelhi) will arrive but has yet to be cast.
On the villainous side of things, Hassell (The Red Sea Diving Resort; Suburbicon) will star as Vicious, “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.”
Alex Garcia Lopez (The Witcher; Marvel’s Daredevil and Marvel’s The Punisher; Utopia) will direct the first two of ten episodes, with writer/executive producer Christopher Yost (Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok) having written the first episode. Original anime director Shinichiro Watanabe has been on board as a consultant for the whole series. Be sure to add the title to your Netflix watchlist now!
And now that we have the particulars out of the way, let’s spare a moment to process it all. I think Cho could bring that certain brand of detached style and charisma to Spike that’s made the character such a beloved fan-favorite for more than 20 years; we’ll just have to see if his Jeet Kune Do skills are up to the task. As for Shakir, it’ll be interesting to see how he plays up the part considering that Jet is supposed to be the old, grizzled veteran of the group (he’s younger than Cho by five years) and a stickler for the rules. (As long as he leaves his Bushmaster accent behind for the part, I think he’ll be fine.) Pineda has the toughest role both on screen and in the social media sphere. Faye Valentine is introduced as a femme fatale and love interest early on, only to have it revealed that she’s actually far older, more mature, more worldly, and vastly more complex than her appearance would suggest. Pineda can pull that off as long as the writing is up to snuff, and hopefully she can shake off any social media drama that’s sure to come with as much ease. What will be really interesting to see is the casting of Radical Edward, an innocent little force of nature/chaos and an integral part of the Bebop team. (I have no idea why, but Awkwafina comes to mind.) The casting here may make or break the team’s camaraderie.
When it comes to Hassell, I’m less familiar with his work than the others in this list, but Vicious was probably the least developed character in the entirety of the anime itself. Most of the heavy lifting was done by Spike (and Julia’s) story, so Hassell doesn’t have to do much beyond loom in the shadows, commit acts of efficient violence, and have a penchant for large, carnivorous birds. Fingers crossed for this one, fam.
Here’s more from Netflix on the announcement: