Ahead of the series’ release this Friday, we got a chance to chat with John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, and Daniella Pineda — the main cast of Netflix’s live action Cowboy Bebop — in a press conference. There, the series’ main trio shared their approach and experience in bringing the iconic Bebop crew to life.
As a live action series, Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop has some key differences over the original. While the story has some major changes (as we’ve noted in our review) the Bebop crew mostly stick true to the source material, but with some expanded backstories.
“I think the primary difference between our live action show [and the anime] is they just brought out the backstory and tried to stretch as much as they could that from the anime,” said Pineda. “We were trying to pull and sort of enrich each character’s story. And I felt like with mine, [Faye] never wanted to be too vulnerable, and eventually, there’s a trust that’s earned where she can show a little vulnerability [to the rest of the Bebop crew]. She never wants to give out too much because that’s just part of her survival. “
The changes to their backstories are there, but not to the point that Spike, Jet, and Faye are completely different characters. For instance, as Pineda noted, Faye still has that sass and sarcasm from the anime, all while having that vulnerable side to her in certain moments.
As for Spike Spiegel, Cho mentioned something similar as his approach in playing Spike is not that much different to the anime version, even if there are some backstory changes.
“I don’t know that I approached it thinking I’m going to be different,” said Cho. “I was trying to see if I could get inside there and bring myself in and see what happens if I were that person. I tried my best to humanize a two-dimensional illustration that was wonderfully voiced by an actual person, Steve Blum. But yeah, I was just trying to get in there, look like him, move like him, and feel like him in those in those moments. I didn’t think in terms of difference, or [being the] same, it was really more make real [his character].”
Getting the mannerisms and demeanor of the character is one thing, but it’s another to also act in the various fight scenes in the series. While the filming the series’ numerous fight scenes might seem like a challenge, Shakir revealed that it was actually a fun and “a walk in the park” thanks to the preparation beforehand.
“They made it really fun,” said Shakir. “From the very beginning, we had stunt training like boot camp where we worked together for six hours a day, working with all kinds of things tumbling, sword fighting, shooting guns, you name it. And so, by the time it was time to shoot, we had already formed a really tight bond. So, it was just like a walk in the park, and a lot of fun.”
By the end of the discussion, the trio was asked about the pressure that they felt when playing such iconic characters. They revealed that while there was pressure, they were able to focus on how much of an honor it is to play the roles of Spike, Jet, and Faye:
John Cho: “I wouldn’t interpret it as pressure, but there was a reverence and respect [to the original], and we had to balance that against wanting to feel creative, free, and playful. It was definitely pushing and pulling on those two qualities. But pressure in the sense that we wanted to make something that the fans would enjoy. But it didn’t feel burdensome, it felt like an honor.”
Mustafa Shakir: “Yeah, I mean, totally an honor. And especially, we’re made more confident by the level of commitment on all our parts like set design, costume design. This show was made by the fans of the original show. So that just gives you the next level of confidence.”
Daniella Pineda: “I think we put pressure on ourselves to honor the blueprint of the characters and totally of the show. But also, if you put so much pressure on yourself, you’re never going to be loose to have fun and experiments. So I think we all had a pretty healthy balance of the two.”
Cowboy Bebop will stream exclusively on Netflix on November 19, 2021.