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Actors We Want To See In A Live-Action Steven Universe Reboot

"Steven Universe" is a children's animated comedy fantasy show which ran from 2013 to 2020 on Cartoon Network. Created by Rebecca Sugar, the series follows the adventures of the titular Steven Universe, who is half-human and half-Gem. In the show's universe, the term "Gems" refer to sentient alien beings with magical powers such as shape-shifting, weapons creation, and energy blasts among other things. Throughout the series, Steven attempts to learn to use his unpredictable Gem powers by fighting off corrupted monsters, while also dealing with the very human struggles of family, friendships, and even burgeoning young love.

"Steven Universe" is heavily influenced by anime, both in its animation style and how it deconstructs a lot of anime's tropes, particularly among the magical girl and shonen genres. It is also extremely heartfelt and sincere, with a refreshingly queer lens portrayed through the canonical main lesbian couple Ruby and Sapphire (who fuse into Garnet) and non-binary characters like Shep. "Steven Universe" also surprisingly goes into some dark places, especially later in the series when themes of genocide, post-traumatic stress, and even abusive relationships are introduced — though it never dilutes the show's overall positive tone. 

A live-action "Steven Universe" reboot could actually be really fun — especially with all the explosive action and colorful characters which could look really cool visualized. It wouldn't be easy considering the extensive VFX budget and stunt work that would most likely be needed to execute it, but at least we could start with who would play the various characters in this hypothetical project.

Gaten Matarazzo as Steven Universe

Steven is a young boy (and later, a young teen in the follow-up series "Steven Universe Future") who is raised by the powerful Crystal Gems in "Steven Universe," made up of the strong leader Garnet, the overprotective Pearl, and the fun-loving Amethyst. They were led in a rebellion thousands of years ago by Steven's powerful mother Rose Quartz who eventually fell in love with Steven's father, Greg Universe, a failed-musician-turned-failed-car-wash-owner who lives in a van.

Throughout the show, Steven is an unabashedly positive character who always sees the best in people — even scary monsters and alien dictators. This is a hard type of character to play without coming off as grating or insincere. Luckily "Stranger Things" star Gaten Matarazzo, who plays the character Dustin Henderson on the Netflix show, fits the bill pretty well. Matarazzo was always a standout among the admittedly stacked cast of "Stranger Things" from the beginning. Furthermore, like Steven, Dustin is also one of the most innocent and sweet of the group. For example, Dustin is the only character to ever show sympathy for a Demogorgon in Season 2.

Not only that, but a live-action "Steven Universe" reboot would likely require a lot of VFX, stunts, and green screen work — all things Matarazzo would be used to, due to his time on "Stranger Things."

Lupita Nyong'o as Garnet

The Gems are magical alien creatures made from rocks and hail from a vast intergalactic empire. They were known for terraforming and invading planets, which was to include the Earth. However — to explain the Crystal Gems backstory — about 5,000 years before the start of the show, Rose led a rebellion to save the planet from the Gem Empire with the help of other Crystal Gems like Garnet. They ended up winning and saving the Earth, but at a great cost.

After Rose gave birth to Steven, she essentially died, and Garnet took leadership duties. She is the strongest of the Crystal Gems, both in fighting prowess and with her ability to see into the future. She is also unique among the Gems as she is a constant fusion among two others — Sapphire and Ruby — which is usually unheard of for any length of time.

Personality-wise, Garnet is stoic and fierce — but she also has a great wit and is extremely maternal to Steven, which contrasts with her otherwise tough demeanor. This is why Lupita Nyong'o would be perfectly cast for the role. Not only does she have the physicality down to pull off all the fighting and stunts that would be necessary, as seen in films like "Black Panther" and "The 355," but she also has great dramatic and comedic chops to boot. This means Nyong'o would be able to pull off the maternal warmth and dry wit that is key to Garnet's personality.

Judy Greer as Pearl

Pearl is a tall, thin, and agile Gem, who joined Rose in the rebellion against the Gem Homeworld to protect the Earth. She was also arguably the closest ally to Rose out of the core Crystal Gems trio, as she was Rose's protector and confidant, and even saw Greg Universe as a rival to Rose's affections.

Of the Crystal Gems raising Steven, Pearl is probably the most over-protective and high-strung of the group. She is uptight and overly organized but is nonetheless still loving and caring overall. This is one of many reasons Judy Greer would make a great live-action Pearl in any potential reboot, as she has had many roles portraying neurotic or motherly characters in her career. She is also a greatly underrated dramatic and comedic actress in general and would shine playing the character even if she hadn't been cast in similar roles in the past.

Furthermore, having appeared in big VFX-driven films like "Ant-Man" and "Jurassic World," as well as dealing with stunts in films like the latest "Halloween" series, Greer would be prepared for the extensive effects and action needed to make a live-action "Steven Universe" reboot work.

America Ferrera as Amethyst

Amethyst is by far the most overtly comedic and carefree of the core Crystal Gems group. She enjoys chowing down on tons of food, despite the fact that Gems don't need to eat to survive and her magical room is so messy and disorganized that she basically lives in a junkyard.

She was the last known Gem manufactured on Earth in preparation for the Gem Homeworld's invasion of the planet, before being found by Rose to join the Crystal Gems' rebellion. She is also the one who treats Steven most as an equal and an actual friend. While she is obviously protective and loving toward Steven, she is also much less maternal than Garnet or Pearl and is at best the "fun aunt" of the group.

Thus, America Ferrera would be great as Amethyst, as she's known for comedic roles, such as the U.S. remake of "Ugly Betty" and the lead in the workplace sitcom "Superstore." Based on that, she'd be able to easily portray Amethyst's playful side with ease. Not only that, but Ferrera has also shown to have dramatic chops as well, which would come in handy as Amethyst often uses her devil-may-care attitude to hide deep feelings of hurt and insecurity throughout the show.

Tyler Labine as Greg Universe

Greg Universe — who changed his name from Greg DeMayo when he tried to become a rock star in the '80s — is the human father of Steven Universe. He lives alone in a van and is the struggling proprietor of a failing car wash called "It's a Wash," located in the beach city of, well, Beach City.

Greg falls in love with Rose after she had been living on Earth for thousands of years, and they eventually decide to have a child together who would later become the titular Steven Universe. However, doing so means that Rose will have to give up her essence to the baby Steven (since, as a Gem, she couldn't give birth normally), and thus cease to exist. Greg then lets the remaining Gems take care of Steven due to his burgeoning superpowers. Despite that, Steven and Greg remain close.

And the person who could best personify Greg's goofy affability, as well as being able to convey true sincere warmth through presence alone, is actor Tyler Labine. Labine is probably best known for starring as Tucker in the vastly underrated horror-comedy "Tucker and Dale vs. Evil," where he showed his innate likability and comedic timing. Furthermore, in the ensuing years, Labine has definitely been granted an increasingly paternal vibe that the role of Greg would require.

Iman Vellani as Connie Maheswaran

Steven's closest human companion is probably Connie Maheswaran. She is a bookish, intelligent, and shy girl about the same age as Steven, and at the beginning of the show had recently moved to Steven's strange hometown of Beach City. Then, due to Steven's friendly and extroverted nature, the two quickly spark up a friendship — and then later in the series, a burgeoning young romance — which lasts throughout the series. Connie is even trained by Pearl at one point to be Steven's sole protector (similar to Pearl's role with Rose), being the sword to Steven's shield.

Connie is kind, intelligent, brave, and humble — all of these qualities shine in actress Iman Vellani, the star of the Disney+ series "Ms. Marvel." Having dealt with intense stunts, VFX, and scope on "Ms. Marvel," and the upcoming 2023 feature film "The Marvels," Vellani is more than prepared to deal with whatever a "Steven Universe" reboot would throw at her.

Hailee Steinfeld as Lapis Lazuli

In "Steven Universe," during the rebellion on Earth between Rose's Crystal Gem revolutionaries and the Gem Homeworld empire over the fate of the planet, Lapis Lazuli — a powerful Gem with control over water — was caught in the crossfire. After the fight, she was imprisoned in a magical mirror for thousands of years, before being discovered and befriended by Steven who helps her escape. However, since she believes it was the Crystal Gems who imprisoned her, she has a hard time trusting Steven and his relationship with them, spending most of the series learning to find herself and trust others again.

Actress and singer Hailee Steinfeld would be a great fit to portray a live-action Lapis in any proposed "Steven Universe" reboot. She would be able to muster her impressive acting chops to portray Lapis Lazuli's inner turmoil, such as her role as Vi in Netflix's "League of Legends" adaptation, "Arcane." Not to mention, she scored an Academy Award nomination at just 14 years old for her performance in 2010's "True Grit." She can also make the goofiest of premises work, such as portraying a convincing and sincere relationship towards the mostly-CG Bumblebee in the underrated "Bumblebee" film from 2018.

Steinfeld is no stranger to grueling stunts or extensive VFX, having starred in such blockbusters (and would-be blockbusters) like "Ender's Game" and the Disney+ show "Hawkeye."

Awkwafina as Peridot

Peridot is a late addition to the "Steven Universe" mythos, first being introduced as a main antagonist in the Season 1 episode "Warp Tour." She begins the series as an imposing opponent with advanced Gem technology, having been created thousands of years after the Crystal Gems. However, she is eventually captured by Steven and the Crystal Gems, and — against the others' wishes — Steven decides to show Peridot mercy. And, like many initial enemies Steven encounters, Peridot eventually succumbs to Steven's unwavering positivism and ends up falling in love with Earth, deciding to defend it against the tyrannical Gem Homeworld.

After being captured, Peridot also becomes a mostly comedic character. While there are clues of her not being the threat she purports to be earlier on, it becomes clear once she loses access to her technology how helpless she is without it, despite her vast intellect. Actor and comedian Awkwafina has played many roles where she has to fake bravado, or has a chip on her shoulder with something to prove, including her defining role as Katy in the MCU's "Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings." She's also shown to have enough dramatic chops to make the character's turn believable as well.

Furthermore, her experiences in "Shang-Chi" would have given her a lot of experience with stunts, action, and extensive VFX work, which would all come in handy for a live-action "Steven Universe" reboot.

Nicole Byer as Bismuth

Bismuth is the last core Crystal Gem to be introduced in "Steven Universe," making her first appearance in Season 3's "Bismuth." She is a strong Gem warrior and magical blacksmith, who was one of the original Crystal Gems fighting on Earth thousands of years ago. She was stuck imprisoned in Steven's magical lion (named Lion for some reason) until she is eventually discovered and freed by Steven.

Anyway, it turns out she was imprisoned by none other than Rose herself all those years ago, as Bismuth created a weapon to kill other Gems, rather than simply poofing and imprisoning them like they usually do. Steven, too, is wary of such a violent course of action and imprisons Bismuth again. However, he later frees her to help create armor for Ruby and Sapphire's wedding, and Bismuth — understanding the error of her ways — becomes a core member of the team from then on.

Actress and comedian Nicole Byer, probably best known for Netflix's "Nailed It" and TBS' "Wipeout," would make a great live-action Bismuth in a hypothetical "Steven Universe" reboot. Byer could harness a big part of Bismuth's personality, which despite her size and strength is still prone to jovial smiles and laughter. It's a fun contrast that would be great to see recreated in live-action.

Bryce Dallas Howard as Rose Quartz

While Rose's past is progressively revealed throughout the series, Steven is mostly left in the dark in the beginning about who or what his mother really was. For a large part of the early seasons, many characters believed that due to her death being caused by his birth, Steven is a reincarnation of his seemingly dead mother. Thus, Steven discovering his own identity and destiny — separate from his mother's looming shadow — is a big part of his and the show's journey.

So, Rose would have to make a very immediate and lasting impact, especially considering how little screen time she gets overall. This is why someone like Bryce Dallas Howard would be the perfect casting. Howard has played powerful and even ethereal characters throughout her career. This includes her role as the titular character for M. Night Shyamalan's underrated film "Lady in the Water" where, despite whatever other flaws the film may have had, she came across as believably otherworldly and wise, the way Rose would need to be.

Howard is also used to big spectacle films, having starred in the bombastic "Jurassic World" and "Twilight" films, so she has dealt with her fair share of VFX and stunt-filled productions as well.