Though he saw some action in Star Trek, John Cho has never been in a superhero movie. With the live-action remake of Cowboy Bebop coming up, though, Cho had to get into a certain kind of shape—one he described to Vulture as “functionally athletic rather than show-horse athletic.” (Anyone who’s seen the stills from the show may wish to disagree with this assessment.)
But John Cho, like so many of us, would rather just eat a sandwich.
This interview is a treat, covering topics ranging from the role of race in anime to the way respect and professionalism help manifest chemistry between actors. As relatable as Cho’s sandwich feels may be, it’s his thoughts on how he approached the role of Spike Spiegel, and how the character’s physicality was a lesson in acting, that are most fascinating. “I didn’t give that kind of acting enough credit,” he tells interviewer E. Alex Jung. “I was a … nerd snob. For this role, everything came from training; my character decisions came from that.”
He also addresses the age difference between himself and Spike (Cho is 49; Spike is 27 in the original series), and how being older affected his take on the character.
What young men are typically best at as actors is rage. And that might’ve been a more pronounced element in the character. What I’m better at, being older, is showing weakness and vulnerability and love. Those things are more accessible to me. Personally, I’d prefer the version I’m able to do now. That’s my taste.
We’ll get to see Cho’s take on Spike Siegel when Cowboy Bebop premieres on Netflix on November 19th.