You’ve probably heard the news already.
If you haven’t, well…it’s finally happened. After months of Hollywood rumours and speculation, Fox have confirmed that they have greenlit a live action version of Cowboy Bebop with Keanu Reeves taking the lead role of Spike Spiegel.
Not that I’m anti the idea of a live action, high budget version – in fact, it’s something I’ve daydreamed about for years now. Done right it could be a fantastic piece of sci-fi action cinema. But, like probably every other single anime blogger out there, today I’m just a little concerned about that piece of casting.
Not that I hate Keanu – he was fine in the first Matrix flick, and the beautiful, hugely underrated A Scanner Darkly – it’s just that he was never who I had in mind for the role of Spike. I think I was probably hoping for an Asian actor. In fact, my first choice had always been Stephen Chow. He’s got the subtly, charisma and humour to pull off the role – not to mention the stunt and martial arts skills. But it’s Reeves we’ve got, and that’s not going to change – it’s clearly the main reason Fox has agreed to greenlight the project in the first place. What’s more pressing now is sorting out the rest of the cast.
Casting Jet Black is probably going to be the easiest part. Ron Perlman would be a great fit – age, look and delivery wise. I always had Jean Reno in my head for some reason, but maybe he’s a bit too, y’know, French.
Finding a convincing Faye Valentine is going to be much, much more difficult. Casting the solar system’s sexiest 200 year-old compulsive gambler needs to be done carefully. Again, Christina Ricci pops into my head, but then to be fair she’s been doing that for years anyway. Joking aside, she’s a perfect fit for the role, in both terms of looks and attitude. As for casting Edward…well, I don’t envy that job. Child actors scare the life out of me. I know one thing for sure, it can’t be fucking Dakota Fanning.
Perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves here though – before a cast, we need a director. And a script. We’ve got a producer apparently; Erwin Stoff, who worked on the aforementioned A Scanner Darkly. Even more positively Sunrise’s Kenji Uchida and and the godlike genius of Shinichiro Watanabe will serve as associate producers alongside series writer Keiko Nobumoto. Series producer Masahiko Minami will serve as a production consultant. Hmm. Maybe there’s hope for this project yet.
Let’s pray so, because if you’re going to do it, you need to do it right, first time. Because you’ve got to convince the studio that it’s worth letting you do two more. That’s the only way to do the show’s characters, story arcs and pacing justice. One of the main reasons Bebop worked so well was how gently it eased you into the characters, revealing their back stories slowly over time. The audience needs to find out about Spike’s shady past, about how Jet lost his arm, and why Faye’s heart-wrenching history has turned her into such a bitch. Cramming all that into one movie just won’t work though. Bebop is big, and it needs space to breath…
Oh, and Fox? One more thing. Don’t mess the music up. Use Yoko Kanno‘s orginal funk-jazz-country-techno score. If you need more of it, then pay her whatever it takes to make more. Please.
Next Week: Tim shares his views on the Hollywood adaptation of Samurai Champloo staring Jason Statham and Masi Oka.