Anime Vice News

Writer Peter Craig Speaks on Cowboy Bebop Flick

I got to ask Peter Craig, the script writer for the upcoming Cowboy Bebop live-action flick, just a few questions...


So, when the Cowboy Bebop movie was first announced , I spent some time facing the perilous prospect of cold-calling a Hollywood studio in hopes of getting a few questions about the project answered. I was relieved when I was able to get in touch with people involved fairly quickly, and even got my answers-- direct from writer Peter Craig, who's writing the script for the film! Craig is also known for the dark comedy novel "The Martini Shot," which sits well with us here at Whiskey Media, as it happens.

Without further ado, here's more on the Bebop project:

ANIME VICE: How did you come to be a part of the Cowboy Bebop project?

PETER CRAIG: I'm obviously not the most likely writer to land a great project like this.  I began as a novelist, and was steered into writing screenplays when I adapted two of my own crime novels after they were optioned.  Eventually, I earned a decent reputation for writing certain kinds of characters: disaffected men, dysfunctional families, poker-playing con-women, weathered ex-cops.  A couple of things I've written are going into production this summer - but they've been circulating much longer.  So studios and producers were familiar with my work here.

Even though I'd never written Sci-Fi, Emma Watts and Erwin Stoff really believed that I might relate well to Spike, Faye, and Jet -- as well as many of the minor characters from the episodes.  When I heard I might have a chance for the job, I was thrilled.  Fox sent me every episode of "Cowboy Bebop," including a few that had never aired in the U.S.  I think I watched all of them consecutively one night until the sun came up - and by the end, I was obsessed with the show.  I loved how it mixed genres, how it blended noir, Jazz, Yakuza movies, Westerns, and so much else into a vision of the future that worked.  And so I entered that process of going after the job, giving my "take" on the movie, competing with other writers.  Ultimately, I got the job because Erwin Stoff and Emma Watts had liked my work in the past -- and they saw that I was passionate about it.

AV: Had you seen Cowboy Bebop prior to coming onto the project? Is there anything about the series that particularly drew you in?

PC: I had seen the show on "Adult Swim" - but not enough to understand it as well as I do now.  I had seen the ending first, unfortunately.  Then I believe I saw "Honky Tonk Women" next, months later - the episode when Spike first finds Faye in the casino.  I'd seen one of the Ganymede episodes at some point, too - Jet with his old girl.  I remember being very impressed with it, though, even with limited exposure.  I liked the pace, the wide-open space.  I liked the extremely droll sense of humor.  It was unlike anything I'd seen before.

But then, once I watched all of them in order, I really became a full convert to the show.  I've probably watched every episode at least three or four times now - and I really adore what a complete world Watanabe and Nobumoto created.  I was also extremely drawn to all of the characters' backstories: Faye's amnesia after being taken out of cryogenic freeze, and the con played on her; Spike's history in the Syndicate and with Julia; Jet's days as a cop on Ganymede, and his run-in with Udai Taxim.  Every character was new and interesting, and I felt like I was looking at an encyclopedia of some imaginary world.  

AV: It's been reported that the staff who made the anime-- the studio Sunrise --is going to remain involved in the film. Do you know at this point if this will include significant involvement in the script?

PC: Yes, they're very much involved.  I met with all of them in Tokyo in December - at a long meeting with Keanu in the room.  I thought there was an immediate rapport between all of us, particularly Shinchiro Watanabe and Keanu.  I asked questions, presented scenarios, and they were very specific about their vision for the series, and how it might convert to a live-action film.  They've continued to be in touch since then; and last month I received a very detailed letter, which I've consulted regularly.  I'm close to finishing an early draft, and I believe they'll be very happy with it.  Not only does the script stay extremely true to the show -- I also know that Erwin and Fox are already discussing production designers that can reproduce the "look" of Cowboy Bebop as closely as possible.  They'll be reading the script soon... so my fingers are crossed.

...The end!

I know some of you are skeptical about the film due to Keanu Reeves' involvement, but I have to say, after reading this I'm feeling pretty good about it. Craig really pins down some of Bebop fans' favorite aspects of the series-- its involvement with music, its rich characters, and their even richer backstories –without falling into citing a bunch of “keywords” meant to draw up “buzz” or anything along those lines.

I also like how clearly involved the Sunrise people are, too, particularly Watanabe-sensei, who directed the original Bebop film.  Between Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and his involvement in The Animatrix and Studio 4C's Genius Party, Watanabe doesn't seem like someone who's going to let his best-known baby get adapted into any kind of lesser film.

What about you guys? Do you feel better about the project after reading this, or do you still have concerns? Or were you already excited about the film anyway? 

- Gia Manry is Anime Vice's Editor-in-Chief - 
Cogitoon June 23, 2009 at 4:19 p.m.
Well after hearing an interview, I think I'm a bit more hopeful for the movie, who knows maybe it'll be the first in a line of good american anime adaptations, but that's a bit too hopeful of a dream right now, nonetheless, It has me thinking now, Who would play Kamina in a TTGL live action movie?
Sigueon June 23, 2009 at 4:22 p.m.
I wasn't as afraid for this movie as I was Dragonball, bu I didn't think it could actually be good. Now, though, I wouldn't be surprised if we got something satisfactory out of this. The writer seems genuinely into the series, and I think that could play out very well.
Eelcireon June 23, 2009 at 4:27 p.m.
While the interview has me hopeful, so do other interviews of 'adaptation' movies. I think the problem lies in the suits higher up. This guy gets it, and will take it so far, but many times there seems to be someone higher on the chain that fucks up the project in one way or another; someone who knows nothing of the source material, but needs to do something to justifty their job.

Still though, I can only hope for the best. Cowboy Bebop ranks among my favorite anime series.
Baku_Senseion June 23, 2009 at 4:28 p.m.
I think that Keanu could do a great job, though he'll have to finally break away from Ted, if that's at all possible.
Nikoon June 23, 2009 at 4:44 p.m.
He sounds like he is going to do his best to do the movie justice, and Sunrise's involvement is nice to hear too. Got to hope for the best.
Kiriskaon June 23, 2009 at 5 p.m.
I was feeling pretty good about it before, but this is definitely helping the opinion along. So yes, pretty excited!

I still have concerns as to how they're going to handle the music for the movie since I have doubts that Kanno will be involved.
RedRoseson June 23, 2009 at 5:13 p.m.
This interview definitely lifts my spirits up quite a bit. I wasn't particularly jaded as others about the movie but by his answers, he seems like he knows what he's doing. I'm loving the fact that Sunrise is helping too because then we know it can't be a super bad movie or anything (well there's always potential risk regardless of these types of reassurances but I'm fairly confident in the movie now).
theillienon June 23, 2009 at 5:15 p.m.
Just knowing that Keanu Reeves is in it makes me nervous no matter how much involvement Sunrise or Watanabe have.
MoonStormon June 23, 2009 at 5:28 p.m.
Sounds good to me. Thought I'm sure  Sunrise is not going to say no. It would be crazy not to. All we can hope for is that Reeves can learn to act.
Zeouterlimitson June 23, 2009 at 5:49 p.m.
I really don't want to raise my hopes... talking a positive wait and see approach.
John_Martoneon June 23, 2009 at 7:21 p.m.
Awesome article is awesome. Great job Gia, I feel much better about the movie, and I now want to get to know Peter Craig.
ryokokicksit86on June 23, 2009 at 7:55 p.m.
I'm excited that they want to bring Cowboy Bebop to the masses but with K. reeves being the face of the project, I'm loosing hope. Spikes character has multiple layers, simply acting confused and distant will not do justice to one of the most recognized/respected men in Anime. At least the new movie will get the name of the series out there.
Void_Wizardon June 23, 2009 at 8:36 p.m.
After watching The Day the Earth Stood still with K. reeves in it I have...no hope for it. Nice interview though too bad K. reeves gets to screw the movie up.
Forlournedon June 23, 2009 at 9:03 p.m.
Every time hollyweird touches anime, a bunny dies as well as the rep of the anime crapped on.
Kuroon June 23, 2009 at 9:36 p.m.
This makes me happy.
tsukikageon June 23, 2009 at 9:43 p.m.
Reading this, I get the feeling Ed won't make an appearance, since she's only vaguely referred to (?) in the "dysfunctional families" bit.  This is disappointing, as she's my favorite character in the show, but I can still say that this is making me feel a lot better about the movie.  *wonders if there's any chance of getting Kanno Youko (maybe even Seatbelts?) to work on this*
GATSon June 23, 2009 at 9:59 p.m.
It's nice to have someone who cares about the script this time. But it's Rothman's raping of DB: E and AV:P which has us on pins and needles about Bebop. BTW, it'd be nice if you could cast that CJ7 girl as Ed.
transgojoboton June 23, 2009 at 10:52 p.m.
Peter Craig can craft a script that truly embraces the essence of CowBe, but Keanu Reeves is still involved.

And, like Eelcire mentioned up-thread, Erwin Stoff, Emma Watts and Reeves all have a say-so in how the final film develops. They can easily bring in several more writers to "clean up" or fix anything in Craig's script that they don't like. The final script could evolve into something that doesn't even remotely looks like anything of Craig's. Whether that's bad or good, remains to be seen, but it's typical and expected in Hollywood.

This film can still be great or good, depending on who else the producers bring on board. They really, REALLY need to surround Keanu Reeves with a cast that HAVE TO steal the movie from him.

Plus, the movie will need a director with a good eye for action and pacing; a cinemtographer with a good eye for space and someone who can translate the series' art direction; and an editor(s) who can keep the film's runtime from getting out of hand and make is sensible to audiences.

I think I may be asking for too much.
Baku_Senseion June 24, 2009 at 2:10 a.m.
A little off-topic, but just the first few seconds are worth it:

  

Zeblueon June 24, 2009 at 9:18 a.m.
I'm excited about this project because, like with many other animes, I've dreamt of the day it becomes a kickass live-action movie ... but in my fantasies, I'm in the movie, lol.

Knowing that the script will be so true to the show is a major blessing, but, now, we all have to worry about the actors and producers envolved. Whether or not the film sucks, I'll still go to see it (just like I'll still go see GIJoe). I'm positive of that.
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