Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Casting Cowboy Bebop

I hold Shinichiro Watanabe's anime series, Cowboy Bebop, in very high regard. Not only did I name it the best Western of the past ten years, it's also possibly my favorite TV show ever. So there's some bad news: It's being made into a Hollywood live-action movie by Erwin Stoff.

Now, Mr. Stoff has produced some excellent movies, like The Matrix and A Scanner Darkly. But he's presided over a number of bad to terrible movies, including Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, Chain Reaction, The Devil's Advocate, Hardball, Sweet November, Constantine, The Lake House, and Street Kings.

If you haven't figured it out yet, this means that the new movie will probably be bad. Much worse, it will probably star Keanu Reeves (I didn't cherry pick those movies. That's roughly 2/3 of Stoff's credits...ALL WITH KEANU REEVES).

To head off Keanu Horror, my wife and I decided we'd cast the movie before Stoff could. We went with people who could play the role, not so much have the right physical appearance. Hope you like it:

The Character: Spike Spiegel: Our hero is a fun-loving bounty hunter, spaceship pilot, and one man army. He likes eating, kung fu, property destruction, and shooting gangsters in the forehead. He's generally a big joke, unless his archnemesis Vicious is around, in which case people die. Lots and lots of people.
The Challenge: Finding an actor who can be comic relief and a stone-cold head-shooter
The Candidates:
1.Robert Downey, Jr. If Bale can be Bruce and John, I see no reason why Downey can't be Tony and Spike. He's got the gift for physical comedy, verbal comedy, and blowing shit up. Like all of our choices, he'd need some kung fu training, but I can't imagine anyone who could blend the off the cuff comedy and the deadly seriousness of the Spike role better.
2. Owen Wilson. At heart, Spike is just a clown in a silly suit who wants to get paid, get something to eat, and not be bothered by tomboys, kids, and dogs. Wilson would be even better than Downey at this aspect of the role, and if he had more action cred, he'd be my #1 choice.
3.Brad Pitt. Although I have a newly awakened desire to loathe the Bradster, he's a monster talent who, again, has both the physicality and the way with a one-liner to be Spike.

The Character: Faye Valentine. Faye is a smoking hottie with giant boobs, hotpants, and the unerring ability to piss Spike off. My wife just named a bunch of no-talent hot chicks of the Lopez, Berry, Jolie variety, which I vetoed in favor of some women who can/might be able to actually act. She vetoed Tilda Swinton for not being pretty enough. Still, our version opts to downplay Faye's sexuality in favor of acting skill. I can dream, can't I?
The Challenge: A highly attractive A-List female actor that can actually act? Do they even make those?
The Candidates:
1. Zoe Bell: If you've seen Kill Bill, you know Zoe Bell kicks ass, even if she had to pretend to be Uma. If you've seen Grindhouse, you know she can kick ass and deliver bad dialogue in a pretty sweet accent. And if you've read this, you know she will be kicking ass on a regular basis on the interwubs. She's got my vote.
2.Carla Gugino. Carla Gugino would probably look better in the Faye-suit than Zoe, and she'll either be a total laughingstock or have lots of hipster cred after The Watchmen movie. But she ain't no Zoe.
3. Zooey Deschanel. Here we were just reaching for someone who was the right age, gender, and could act. The main reason I'm including her is because, after my wife said her name, I knew the real Zoe was the way to go.

The Character: Jet Black is a cop turned bounty hunter who is Spike's mentor, father figure, cook, and nursemaid. He also has a badass robotic arm and some sweet, sweet boots.
The Challenge: No challenge. Unlike the ladies, who disappear when they cross 30, Hollywood men hang around after 45 and play Jet type characters for decades. He was by far the easiest to cast
The Candidates:
1.Bruce Campbell. My wife's stroke of pure genius. He's a big tough guy who's actually a softy, who throws a great punch, who might be able to cook, whose chin is a registered weapon, and who would fill the theaters with fans (if the theaters were small and near known geek headquarters).
2. Ron Perlman. It's time to show the big red guy some love. Most of his best roles have been been as weirdos, usually obscured by prosthetics and makeup, but Ron Perlman has the gruff attitude and hideous mug to make the perfect Jet.
3. Jeff Bridges. My wife said "Jeff Daniels," but she meant the Dude. Playing Jet would be pretty much exactly like playing Obadiah Stane, but not being evil. Somehow, I think Bridges could handle it.

The Character: Vicious. Spike's archenemy is a creepy as hell, samurai sword wielding psychopath.
The Challenge: Although we didn't go for physical appearance with the others, we weren't able to get Vicious' angular, evil face out of our heads.
The Candidates:
1.Tilda Swinton. No one does creepily androgynous like Tilda Swinton. My wife's unconvinced, but she could play Vicious just like she played Gabriel in Constantine, and I'd be cowering. Plus, she has to go somewhere, and apparently it's not Faye.
2.Cillian Murphy. Again, creepily androgynous. I would fear the Murph, but I would also spend all his fight sequences biting my knuckles with fear, so worried would I be that Spike would break those glorious cheekbones
3.Adrien Brody. I don't know if Adrien has the malevolence to play Vicious, which our first two candidates have in spades. But he sure would look right and could use another interesting acting challenge, after delivering such stellar performances in movies like The Jacket and The Village.

The Character: Edward is a pre-adolescent girl who speaks some sort of unintelligible pidgin and is considerably more trouble than she's worth.
The Challenge: None
The Candidate: Oh yeah, Keanu's got this one

The Character: Ein is a genetically enhanced Welsh corgi who turns out to be the best hacker in the universe
The Challenge: None
The Candidate: My friend Chad's Penny would be perfect. I love corgis!


Evan Derrick said...

Being a somewhat well-versed anime aficionado, I have to admit that I haven't seen any of Cowboy Bepop. It's always on the radar, always just over the horizon, but never realized.

Your comments on Erwin Stoff, however, are probably dead on. This is a failure from the word go (at least for die hard fans). And Keanu Reeves would be a miserable choice. I'm not a Keanu hater like many people are. I think he's a decent enough actor as long as he's placed in the right role (he's not a great actor since he has no versatility). Just like Kevin Costner or (to a lesser extent) Bruce Willis, they inevitably always play the same character and never WOW you with their performances, but if they're in the right part it clicks well. Keanu is perfectly acceptable in Bill & Ted's, The Matrix, and A Scanner Darkly, but whenever he's asked to go beyond his usual "what-the-hell-is-going-on-around-me" look, he tanks miserably (see the recent example of Street Kings).

Spike is not a role he will do well in. At. All.

Graham said...

It's funny that you say it's probably a failure for die-hard fans, because I actually thought Constantine was ok - nothing special, but ok. And then I read some of the comics, and realized that they ruined everything. But not knowing what it could have been, I thought it was alright.

I'm with you on Costner and Keanu - they can do one thing pretty well, and fail whenever they try anything else. Willis can do a bit more, but you're right that he's never too comfortable too far outside of his Die Hard persona. But he's much more flexible than those other two, and at his best, I think he's one of the best - Willis has Wowed me, in 6th Sense, in Pulp Fiction, in Sin City. Reeves and Costner: never.

You should really watch Cowboy Bebop, then Samurai Champloo, then Trigun. Those are my 3 favorites.

Evan Derrick said...

Ok, I've heard great things about Champloo as well.

In other anime news, have you checked out Monster yet per my recommendation over at MovieZeal? You get a slap on the wrist if you haven't yet, pretending to be an anime 'fan' and all.

Graham said...

Your comment on MZ gave me the idea that Monster was difficult to obtain in the states. Am I wrong? Because if not, I'll check it out...as soon as I'm done with Dexter.

Bryana said...

Well keanu sucks at most of his movies his facial structure is very close to spikes the only problem I have is that reeves never played a sarcastic character and I doubt he would be good at all. But for Vincent I think my boyfriend she play him he looks EXACTLY like him its just plain wrong it scares me. Lol and in movie I like when the characters look exactly like who they want to portray I need to get a hold of peter Craig and tell him!!! Anywho if someone could msg me tell me wat the plans are my Facebook is Bryana zurad hint I am the only bryana zurad in existence.