Fancasting The Live-Action Cowboy Bebop

Whether we like it or not, a live action Cowboy Bebop television series is in development. And fans are understandably conflicted. On one hand, our beloved show is getting a new life. On the other, our beloved show is entering a realm that usually mangles its source material. The show is in early development, so it’s hard to make any sort of quality call this early. However, the show needs a solid creative team, a big budget, and the right cast.

That last point is what will make or break the show. Stripped of its sci-fi trappings, Cowboy Bebop is a deep dive into broken characters. The drama of their relationships propels the show forward and acts as the glue holding their episodic adventures together. So, here are the folks I think should inhabit those shoes.

Jet Black

Jet is the voice of reason on the Bebop. He’s constantly urging his companions to think about their impulsive decisions and takes on the de facto father figure role.

Terry Crews

I know it’s a little outside the box. But, Terry Crews has charisma for days and gives his all in every role. Also, he hasn’t been given an opportunity to show his dramatic chops. The role demands barbed banter with Spike and the rest of Bebop’s crew, reigning in Spike from his more self-destructive tendencies, and being motivated by his own tragic backstory. I firmly believe Crews would easily work his way between all three of those complicated emotions. Besides, I bet he whips up a mean beef and broccoli (minus the beef).

Vin Diesel

Yes, this is the polar opposite of the previous choice. Vin Diesel is not known for his on-screen charisma. But, he must be doing something right. The Fast and Furious movies continue to make all the money. Heck, even his most recent outing as Xander Cage gained immediate cult status. Beyond that, Diesel could bring a more subdued nature to Jet. He’s already played a hulking sci-fi hero haunted by his past, so it’s not too much of a stretch.


Ed is a precocious but brilliant hacker. For all intents and purposes, she’s feral. As such, she’s never quite figured out how to be part of society and can be annoying at times.

Lulu Wilson

Lulu Wilson is cutting her teeth on horror films. Her turn as Doris in Ouija: Origin of Evil proved she has talent. And she’s looking to deliver again later this year in Anabelle: Creation. But when it comes down to it, horror and comedy are two sides of the same coin. It is not unreasonable at all to think this junior scream queen could make the leap to portray Ed. She handled the drama of a child dealing with tragedy very will in Ouija. And sold the more outlandish parts of the story with ease later in the film. Ed needs an actress capable of exploiting her irritating nature, but endearing themselves to the audience at the same time.

Francesca Capaldi

On the other hand, Francesca Capaldi came up as the “annoying little sister” on Disney Channel’s Dog With a Blog. It’s a thankless role, but Capaldi’s enjoyed steady work since the show’s end. She could embody Ed’s fearless nature and tendency to wind up in trouble. Also, she’s already got red hair and experience working with a dog.

Faye Valentine

Faye is the soul of Cowboy Bebop. In many ways, her story tragically compliments Spike’s. She’s a con artist with a quick wit and shrewd exterior.

Chiaki Kuriyama

Kuriyama is best known in the West for her roles in Battle Royale and Kill Bill. In Kill Bill, the audience doesn’t know much about Gogo Yubari. But, they do see her using her sexuality to lure men into hitting on her so she can kill them for fun. Faye isn’t quite the psychopath Gogo is, but she does use her feminine wiles to get out of tricky situations. Kuriyama brings a great mystique to her roles that could plug into Faye’s mysterious past very nicely.

Ellen Wong

Ellen Wong is a perfect ensemble actress. She stands out amongst the cavalcade of characters in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. But she never obstructs the momentum of the film. She could fit into the crew of The Bebop and own her part from top to bottom. Beyond that, she’s got an onscreen comfortability that seems natural even though she plays manic characters.

Spike Spiegel

Spike is the binding, destructive force of Cowboy Bebop. He comes to love his strange little family. But over the course of the series, it falls apart and leaves him being chased by his past.

Donnie Yen

Okay, Donnie Yen is a little old to be stepping into Spike’s blazer. But, the guy can still exude cool. He’s an incredible martial artist. And seeing an older, supposedly wiser Spike provides a good opportunity to break new ground with the character.

Sung Kang

His name may not be instantly recognizable, but Sung Kang rules. He’s hands down the best part of The Fast and Furious films, and his arc is one of the franchise’s best. He’s easy to root for and performs comedy with ease. But he also settles into the soapy drama of the Fast films as well. Sung Kang would be a great Spike Spiegel. Especially if paired with his old Fast and Furious director, Justin Lin.


Vicious is Spike’s nemesis and represents the past Spike can’t shake. He’s cold and manipulative and stands as the anti-Spike.

Josh Holloway

Vicious has to be the driving threat of a live-action Cowboy Bebop. His presence must be felt over the entire thing. And Josh Holloway is the only person I could think of that can look the part and embody the master manipulator that is Vicious. His portrayal of Sawyer on LOST was a charming con artist. He could draw you in and stab you in the back in one swift movement. And that’s exactly how Vicious operates.

Boarding The Bebop

So there it is some options for making Cowboy Bebop somewhat watchable. As far as a dream creative team? Noah Hawley as show runner and Justin Lin teaming up with Cary Fukunaga to split directing duties. But now it’s your turn! Who do you think could embody these iconic roles? Let us know in the comments below!

See you, space cowboys…

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About the author

MJ Smith

MJ Smith makes his home in California, and when not listening to Hamilton, podcasts and writes about pop culture on the internet. He loves board games, Swamp Thing, and The Wachowski's SPEED RACER.