‘Cowboy Bebop’: Who’s Playing Spike Spiegel in the Netflix Series?

Most anime fans consider Cowboy Bebop a classic, and Netflix promises to pay homage to the original series with its live-action adaptation. Arriving at the tail end of 2021, the show will follow three bounty hunters as they help take dangerous criminals off the streets — for a price. At the head of Cowboy Bebop‘s core trio is Spike Spiegel, the charming and slippery lead from the anime. Who plays the iconic character in Netflix’s adaptation?

Who plays Spike Spiegel in Netflix’s ‘Cowboy Bebop’?

John Cho as Spike Spiegel in 'Cowboy Bepop' on Netflix. He's walking down the aisle of a church, wearing a blue suit and holding a gun.
John Cho in ‘Cowboy Bebop’ | Geoffrey Short/Netflix

John Cho headlines the cast of Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop, taking on the lead role of Spike Spiegel. In the anime, Spike is a bounty hunter who left the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate by fabricating his own death. Of course, his past catches up to him eventually. One of his former rivals drags him back into the world he left behind.

When Cho first heard about the role of Spike, he’d never seen Cowboy Bebop before. During an interview with Vulture, he admitted taking to the script immediately — and then falling for the anime as well:

“The first thing I read and fell in love with was our episode-one script, which I thought was really brilliant, and I thought, what the hell is this? And then I investigated the anime and just thought this was the most unique piece of entertainment I had seen in a long time: the combination of genres, characters, the music.”

And from the brief glimpses of Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop fans have gotten, Cho looks like a promising choice to play Spike. Not only is he passionate about the role, but promotional photos show him looking the part.

Viewers will recognize John Cho from these projects

If John Cho looks familiar, that’s because the actor has starred in a number of popular films and TV series prior to joining Cowboy Bebop. One of his biggest roles is the titular Harold Lee in the Harold and Kumar movies. Cho’s humor landed him parts in other comedy hits as well, including American Pie and Big Fat Liar.

Star Trek fans may also recognize Cho as Dulu from the most recent series of films, starting with 2009’s Star Trek and ending with 2016’s Star Trek Beyond.

Finally, Cho appears in plenty of popular television series, from Sleepy Hollow to The Exorcist. Covering everything from comedy to science-fiction to horror, it’s clear Cho’s acting range is wide. With Cowboy Bebop, he’ll return to the science-fiction genre — this time approaching the material with its anime origins in mind.

When can fans see John Cho in Netflix’s ‘Cowboy Bebop’?

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Fans of the original anime will see how Cho fares as Spike when Netflix’s live-action Cowboy Bebop finally arrives. The series is currently slated to make its debut on Nov. 19, 2021, right in time for the holiday season. As is standard with Netflix shows, all 10 episodes will drop at once.

More details about the upcoming series — along with a trailer — should emerge before its November release date. There’s also the question of whether the streamer will pursue a second season — or if it plans to keep the series short and sweet like the anime. Either way, it will be interesting to see what Cho brings to the role (and how it compares to the source material).