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'It felt like an honor': 'Cowboy Bebop' stars John Cho, Daniella Pineda, and Mustafa Shakir talk about the pressures of recreating a beloved anime

By AYIE LICSI Published Nov 15, 2021 8:48 pm

Netflix's live-action Cowboy Bebop has a lot to live up to.

The original 1998 anime became an instant classic and garnered a cult following for blending sci-fi with western and noir elements, the mind-blowing jazz music by Yoko Kanno, and existential themes.

23 years later, its fans have their fingers crossed that the upcoming series will actually turn out good—especially since live-action adaptations of animes don't really have the best track record when it comes to living up to expectations.

Alex Hassell as Vicious and John Cho as Spike Spiegel

Bringing 'Bebop' to life

The cast of Bebop—John Cho, Daniella Pineda, and Mustafa Shakir—are no strangers to these expectations and have dealt with criticism even before the show hit Netflix. They definitely felt the pressure of making the show good, but that didn't stop them from having fun while shooting.

We wanted to make something that fans would enjoy but it didn’t feel burdensome, it felt like an honor.

"I wouldn’t interpret it as pressure as much as reverence and respect," Cho, who plays the cool bounty hunter Spike Spiegel, said in a media roundtable interview. "We had to balance that against wanting to feel creative and free and playful, so it was definitely a pushing and pulling on those two qualities."

"Pressure, in the sense that we wanted to make something that fans would enjoy but it didn’t feel burdensome, it felt like an honor," he added.

Fun fact: Cho even grew out his luscious locks to match Spike's awesome hair.

John Cho

"Totally an honor, especially we were made more confident by the level of commitment on all parts—set design, costume design, everybody. This show was made by the fans, for fans so that just gives you next-level confidence," Shakir chimed in. He plays the bad-ass but caring dad of the motley crew, Jet Black.

Mustafa Shakir

The cast also described the series as a "love letter fan fiction" of the original anime. Their version will dive deeper into the backstories of the beloved Bebop squad.

Pineda, who steps into the shoes of the amnesia-hit Faye Valentine, said they gave room for creativity while revering the source material for their roles.

"I think we put pressure on ourselves to obviously honor the blueprint of the characters and tonality of the show but also if you put so much pressure on yourself, you’re not gonna have fun to be loose and experiment, so I think we all had a pretty healthy balance of the two," she said.

Daniella Pineda

The actress also shared her favorite parts about playing Faye, which was that she got to act like "an annoyed teenager."

"I just find her impatience really, really funny. She’s almost like an annoyed teenager, especially between Jet and Spike," Pineda said. "She’s like a raccoon that you leave in the kitchen, always trying to get into things. She was like the best anti-hero ever, so she’s fun to play."

Cowboy Bebop hits Netflix on Nov. 19.