Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop adaptation has seen its share of delays, and not just because of the novel coronavirus. Last October, star John Cho suffered a knee injury that set the production back at least seven months. But according to the adaptation’s co-writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach, replacing Cho was absolutely out of the question. Because John Cho is Spike Spiegel.
“You’ve seen him in comedies. You’ve seen him in dramas. The guy can do anything,” Grillo-Marxuach told io9. “To see John Cho bring his wonderful mastery of acting to this character, and then also to see the level of physical preparation that he’s done for this, is stunning.”
Speaking with io9 via a video call, Grillo-Marxuach shared his thoughts on Cho as Spike, the suave bounty hunter with the disheveled suit, wild hair, and a perfect retort for every situation. The writer and Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance executive producer said that when Cho was in talks to accept the role, he was “jumping up and down with joy” because he knew this was the role the Star Trek and Searching actor was born to play.
“[Co-writer] Chris Yost and I wrote this on a notecard and tacked it up to our whiteboard in the room. His motto for Spike Spiegel was always: Spike Spiegel is super fucking cool,” Grillo-Marxuach said. “Is he tortured? Yes. Does he have a lot of tragedy in his backstory? Yes. Is he somebody who’s not the most sort of effusive with his emotions kind of guy? Yes, you know this. But he’s super fucking cool. So, I think more than anything else, Spiegel’s super fucking cool. John brings that to it in spades.”
Grillo-Marxuach first met Cho all the way back in 1998 when he appeared as a ghost in the season one Charmed episode “Dead Man Dating,” which he’d written. He said he was immediately blown away by Cho’s talent and dedication, and knew he was an actor to keep an eye on. However, except for his turn as Sulu in the Star Trek films, Cho hasn’t really been involved in big budget action projects—and he’s certainly never been a leading man in one. It’s what prompted the viral 2016 hashtag campaign #StarringJohnCho, which imagined the Asian-American actor as the leading man in key blockbusters.
It’s a fact that isn’t lost on Grillo-Marxuach, who has wanted to see Cho starring in a project like this for years. “I think that everybody who participated in that meme of putting John Cho’s face on James Bond, or the character from Fast and the Furious and all that, and asking: ‘Why isn’t this guy doing this?’ Finally, we’ve brought this to you,” he said. “It’s kind of great to be part of a show where you’re finally going to give the audience something that—not just a Cowboy Bebop audience, but a segment of the audience that hasn’t been represented this way—not just this guy, but this character.”
Right now, there’s no word on when production on Cowboy Bebop will resume. Cho is still recovering from his injury, and there’s that whole pandemic to consider. In the meantime, Grillo-Marxuach confirmed that work has started on season two, while everyone waits to find out when they can go back to set. We’ll have more from our interview with Grillo-Marxuach soon, including his thoughts on how they’re keeping Cowboy Bebop weird, especially when it comes to the clothes and hair. Luckily, that’s another thing Cho’s got covered.
“You know, John Cho is not exactly an unattractive dude, but he’s never looked better,” he said. “We have maximum, maximum John Cho here.”
The first season of Cowboy Bebop is expected to come out sometime in 2021.
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