It’s no secret that Keanu Reeves loves anime – a main influence on the “Matrix” series. It’s also common knowledge that the actor holds a place in his heart for sci-fi, as evidenced by films like “A Scanner Darkly,” “Johnny Mnemonic” and the currently-tops-in-theaters “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” It’s no surprise, then, that Reeves’ latest passion project revolves around his desire to make a live-action “Cowboy Bebop.”
“Oh yeah, cool,” he said when I asked him about the flick recently. “We’re trying to do that.”
As fans of the Japanese classic TV series know, “Bebop” follows a crew of bounty hunters traveling around the universe in the year 2071. Reeves hopes to play Spike Spiegel, one of these futuristic cowboys forced to pick up the slack after a population crash and hyperspace gateways have left law-enforcement unable to capture many of the galaxy’s most ruthless criminals.
“It’s got a Western quality, a Western film noir aspect to it,” Reeves said of why he’s such a big fan of Shinichiro Watanabe and Keiko Nobumoto’s groundbreaking series. “It’s got so much style to it, and that’s part of its appeal. That kind of Old West, bordertown, low-tech science fiction aspect.”
Take a look at this clip and you’ll get an idea of why Reeves is not only a perfect-looking fit for Spiegel, but also why he thinks the most important person on the set will be the one trying to translate the series’ unique look. “I think that would be a production designer’s dream,” Reeves said of the flick. “I think you just need a good production designer.”
The flick is currently being put together by Erwin Stoff, a producer who has spent the last two decades working almost exclusively on Reeves projects, and recently set the film up at 20th Century Fox. “We’ve got the rights, we’ve got a writer,” Keanu explained. “He’s putting together a scene outline.”
Reeves revealed that this outline for the flick is currently focusing on the origins of the fictional “Bebop” drug developed by the military, which provides its users with a brief surge of superhuman reflexes and awareness. “We’re taking the Red Eye [story], the beginning part of the series,” he explained, “and then we’ll deal with the end of the series. We’re trying to figure out [the time frame]. We’re looking at the story right now.”
Since the beloved 26-episode show (as well as the feature film) didn’t necessarily maintain a linear style of storytelling, Reeves said that somewhere between the Red Eye origins and the “Bebop” conclusion, they’ll be picking out various highlights for their own use.
“Yeah, it’s so episodic and so disconnected. We’re trying to figure out what pieces to put together to tell one story,” he explained. “Because it’s such a short form, to make a 2 hour version [will be tough]. And it’s got so much of an origin-story obligation; you’ve got to get people up to speed, but you don’t want to do much of that. There are a lot of things to take into consideration, but we think we can do something good.”
With devoted fans all over the world, and a complex universe to depict on screen, Reeves knows that it won’t be easy to make a “Cowboy Bebop” movie. “Yeah,” he grinned when reminded of these facts. “But that’s why you want to do it.”
Are you excited over the idea of “Bebop” taking flight with Keanu? How would you like to see the classic series storyline adapted, if at all?