Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop will cease production for seven to nine months following a knee injury sustained by lead actor John Cho, according to Deadline. The incident happened on-set in New Zealand, with sources describing the accident to Deadline as “a freak accident that happened on the last take of a routine and well-rehearsed scene.” Cho has been flown back to Los Angeles for surgery and physical rehabilitation, hence the extended break in production.
Netflix first announced that Cho would portray Cowboy Bebop protagonist Spike Spiegel last April, but principal production in New Zealand has only been underway for a couple weeks. Rather than re-cast the role of Spike, or continue filming scenes with the rest of the cast during Cho’s recovery, Netflix has opted to delay the entire production until next spring.
It’s unclear what kind of impact, if any, this may have on Cowboy Bebop‘s final product. Nine months is a long time to ask this many actors to be on hold, so one can assume that co-stars Mustafa Shakir (Jet Black), Daniella Pineda (Faye Valentine), Alex Hassell (Vicious), and Elena Satine (Julia) will seek other work in the interim. Contracts for projects of this scale and prestige typically contain retainer clauses that ensure actors remain available during delays, but a lot can happen in nine months. Stuff like this leads to shooting conflicts, and shooting conflicts lead to situations where Henry Cavill’s mustache has to be digitally erased.
For the uninitiated, Cowboy Bebop is a post-Earth sci-fi action/drama that follows a group of a rag-tag bounty hunters, each with their own reason for living on the fringes of society. It was millions of American’s very first anime when it debuted in the United States in the fall of 2001, headlining Cartoon Network’s experimental Adult Swim block of post-watershed programming. At 26 episodes long, Cowboy Bebop is still considered a hallmark of Japanese animation and storytelling, thanks in part to its deep focus on character development, enigmatic villains, cute dog, and world-class soundtrack, composed by the now-legendary Yoko Kanno.
Netflix has yet to outline how its plans for condensing Cowboy Bebop‘s 26 episodes of plot into the mere 10 it’s ordered, or if that’s even the plan to begin with. It’s also possible that Netflix’s show could only cover the first half of Cowboy Bebop‘s story — or even less — thus opening the possibility for additional seasons. After all, Cowboy Bebop is a concise tale with a beginning, middle, and end, and there’s only so much room for embellishment. If this live-action adaptation proves to be hugely popular, Netflix would be shooting itself in the foot by burning through all of the available source material in a paltry 10 episodes.
Then again, Netflix could just as easily run through the breadth of Cowboy Bebop lore in 10 episodes, and then have a second season that’s just following Ein around and watching him do Corgi stuff. This would probably be just as popular, and would also be an enormous cash savings for Netflix. Call me, alright? I got ideas like this for days.