John Cho Talks ‘Cowboy Bebop’ Cancellation
"It was very shocking and I was bummed."
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, John Cho (Star Trek) discusses the surprise cancellation of his Netflix series Cowboy Bebop. Netflix doesn’t often cancel shows in their first season, and they rarely cancel shows with the name recognition of Cowboy Bebop. The beloved anime series was a crossover hit in the late ’90s, earning a global fan base. Netflix also cast fan-favorite actor Cho, and poured lots of money into the New Zealand shoot. But a lukewarm reception and bad reviews tanked what could have been a breakout series.
The cancellation, which came just three weeks after the show’s premiere, came as a shock to its cast, crew, and writers, who were already working on season two. Cho described it saying,
I put a lot of my life into it. I’d gotten injured shooting that show and so I took a year off because of the surgery and devoted myself to rehab, came back and finished the show. It was this huge mountain for me to climb, healing from that injury. I felt good about myself as a result. We also shot the show in New Zealand, so my family moved there. It was just a huge event in my life and it was suddenly over. It was very shocking and I was bummed. But I was very warmed by the response. I wish I could have contacted everybody and gotten hugs. You can’t do that now, but … I don’t know what this is. I’m mystified a little bit about how you can connect with people that you don’t know doing your work, but I won’t question it. I will value it and treasure it. I’m just really deeply appreciative that anyone would care. It’s stunning to me.
Despite the shock of cancellation, Cho has kept busy since then. He’s co-written a young adult mystery novel with Sarah Suk (Made in Korea) that he describes as “a gift to a younger me,” called Troublemaker, which follows a 12-year-old Korean American boy who ventures out, without permission, during the first night of the 1992 L.A. Uprising.
Cho discussed his experience as a teenager during the riots, and how the social justice movement of the past few years has affected him as an immigrant saying, “A lot of this was me grappling with looking at this line from my parents deciding to come to this country to my life and the line extending to my children’s lives and beyond when they were adults, and trying to map the course of our country and I wasn’t liking where that line was heading.”
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