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Hell Yeah, John Cho Is Playing Spike Spiegel in Netflix's 'Cowboy Bebop'

The live-action remake will also star Mustafa Shakir, Daniella Pineda​, and Alex Hassell.

by Nicole Clark
Apr 4 2019, 8:10pm

Image of Spike via Bandai Visual Company / IMDB; photo of Cho by Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage

A few months after Netflix announced it was making a live-action version of Cowboy Bebop (for better or worse), the streaming service put out the first of its cast list—and from the looks of this thing, the show's shaping up to be pretty rad.

John Cho will play Spike Spiegel, the intrepid leader and former hitman of the Red Dragon Syndicate, according to The Hollywood Reporterand thank god for that. For once, Hollywood seems to have gotten the message about whitewashing Asian roles. (Namely: Stop!!!)

Spiegel is "an impossibly cool 'cowboy' (bounty hunter) with a deadly smile, a wry wit and style to spare," Netflix said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. "He travels the solar system with his ex-cop partner, Jet, pursuing the future's most dangerous bounties with a combination of charm, charisma—and deadly Jeet Kune Do."

For the uninitiated, Cowboy Bebop follows a crew of "cowboy" bounty hunters in a ship called, well, Bebop. The anime masterpiece is a mashup of interplanetary operatic science fiction, noir, and western. As the first anime to ever be broadcast on Adult Swim—it came to the States in 2001—it was a harbinger of anime's rise in the US.

For his part, Cho has demonstrated his acting chops in a number of science fiction joints in the past few years—memorably as a lead in the tech-inflected indie film Searching, as Hiraku Sulu in the Star Trek trilogy, and, more recently, in an episode of Jordan Peele's Twilight Zone.

The cast of Netflix's ten-episode series will be rounded out with Mustafa Shakir as Jet Black, Spiegel's partner in crime and "one of the few honest cops in the solar system"—at least until an "ultimate betrayal robbed him of all that he loved, forcing him into a vagabond life of hunting bounties to put food on the table," according to The Hollywood Reporter. Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) will portray con artist and rogue Faye Valentine, and Alex Hassell (Suburbicon, The Isle) will play Vicious, Spiegel's vengeful ex-partner.



Those who may be skeptical of a live-action remake can rest a little easier knowing that Shinichiro Watanabe, the director of the original Cowboy Bebop, will serve as a consultant on the Netflix series. It's too early to call, but—at least at this point—Netflix seems to be doing this classic some justice.

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