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John Cho Dishes On The Difficulties Of Bringing Spike To Live-Action For Cowboy Bebop

Netflix's eagerly anticipated live-action adaptation of "Cowboy Bepop" is on the way, and on November 19, the world will finally find out how this version of the story holds its own compared to the original. Some fans are no doubt worried, because Hollywood live-action anime adaptations like "Ghost in the Shell," "Dragon Ball Evolution," and "The Last Airbender have set a pretty grim predecent. 

Though the first bonkers teaser for the Netflix adaptation made it pretty clear that this version of "Cowboy Bepop" is cooking with gas, the bar is pretty high. It's probably not unfair to say that the original anime version of "Cowboy Bepop" ranks among the best anime series out there, and should definitely be a part of any introductory crash course to the popular, sprawling media. As such, the people behind the Netflix adaptation are extremely aware of the challenges of bringing the beloved series outside the animated realm. In a recent interview, "Cowboy Bepop" star John Cho opened up about the subject, and dished on the difficulties of bringing Spike Spiegel to live-action for "Cowboy Bebop."

Spike's physicality inspired John Cho

John Cho found it pretty challenging to tackle the role of an animated character, and in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actor revealed that the part of Spike Spiegel that allowed him to latch on to the role was Spike's physical prowess. The anime version of the character is a very lazy, languid and borderline detached, but nevertheless harbors a tragic past and amazing fighting skills. For Cho, focusing on this last part helped him get into the Spike mindset — but he still had to find a way to turn a physically exaggerated anime character into a real person.  

"It's very difficult to directly translate an illustration into a person for me," Cho said. "There's an inexactness about it." 

Nevertheless, Cho found the character, and apart from Spike's combat-readiness, his traumatic past was a helpful tool for the actor. "As we uncovered Spike's backstory, which is a dark backstory, I was focused on making that feel very real," he said. "The journey of the season is understanding everyone's past and what is motivating them in the present."

All in all, Cho seems to feel that both he and the production in general succeeded in the difficult mission of both adapting the anime and adding to it without hurting it. "We were all in agreement that we wanted to honor the material and also contribute something original. What we talked about more than anything else was 'Is this in the spirit of 'Cowboy Bepop'?"