Cowboy Bebop’s lived-in fusion of sci-fi urban design, Western shantytowns, and interstellar mechanical design is so important to its tone and feel that any live-action adaptation has to nail it to “get” Bebop. But as Netflix’s upcoming series apparently learned, of equal importance was ensuring John Cho went through some awkward hair phases to play Spike Spiegel.
You may recall Cho’s hair went viral on social media when Netflix first offered a tiny glimpse of its Bebop adaptation. That was timed with the reveal that Turn A Gundam, Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex, and Bebop composer Yoko Kanno would return to score the series. His much-appreciated mane got attention again when a first look at the show itself was unveiled last month, but speaking with Entertainment Weekly recently, Cho was asked about the decision-making behind his look. He said a lot of work went into getting his locks just right, and like all passionate actors, it required some hardship on his part. “I just really disliked the idea of a wig. Have you ever worn one? I’m just so aware of wigs,” Cho said. “I said, ‘I really want it to be my own hair.’ It was a kind of a struggle to grow it out. It went through some really awkward phases.”
“I definitely watched him have to tie it back and try to figure out how to manage it before we got him back in the chair,” series showrunner André Nemec, conjuring images of a longer-haired Cho with his hair tied back and in that iconic Spike Spiegel suit, which is... certainly a very nice image. But still, given how well it went down when we first got to see the live-action Spike’s hair, it’s hard to argue that the team didn’t do a great job of emulating the character’s animated look. It’s not exactly the same, of course. Especially considering with natural hair you just can’t quite nail the gravity-defying upwards angles seen in the anime.
But like everything else we’ve seen of Netflix’s Bebop so far, it’s about the spirit of the original rather than a one-to-one emulation. One the show really captured, if Cho’s bemused reaction is anything to go by. “People were texting me, ‘FYI, your hair is trending on Twitter.’ I did think it was a joke,” the actor said. “After multiple texts, I looked and literally it was trending on Twitter. I couldn’t believe it. I have no idea how to feel about it.” Hopefully, we’ll all be as delighted with the rest of the series, when Cowboy Bebop hits Netflix on November 19.
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