Netflix has revealed the latest round of casting for the upcoming “Cowboy Bebop” live-action revamp, and among them is non-binary actor Mason Alexander Park. Park, who toured nationally with the Broadway version of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” will play fan-favorite character Gren, who will also identify with they/them pronouns. Gren is the right hand to Ana (Tamara Tunie), owner of the hottest underground jazz club on Mars.
In the original Japanese anime series that ran 1997 through 1998, the arc Grencia Mars Elijah Guo Eckener, as they’re known fully, was explored in the two-part episode “Jupiter Jazz.” An aspiring saxophone player at the club known as the Rooster House and a veteran of the Titan War, Gren was subjected to experimental drugs that increased their estrogen and caused them to grow breasts. Gen’s fluid sexual identity ascended the character to a rare LGBTQ representation in anime.
“Revolutionary as the original anime was, the vocabulary we have today for LGBTQ+ people didn’t quite exist when it aired,” read a Netflix tweet on Thursday. “For the upcoming live action adaptation, the character is being reimagined as non-binary with a non-binary actor.”
“I will be playing my favorite role from the anime, Gren, who is a sexy non-binary icon,” Park said in the Netflix tweet. Both a skilled marksperson and a rapier wit, Gren possesses David Bowie-esque qualities meshed with 22nd century glam, handsomeness, and beauty. “Being a non-binary actor who is given the opportunity to breathe new life into an existing non-binary character has been the thrill of a lifetime,” they said in the Netflix announcement, below. “It’s remarkably meaningful to me because I didn’t grow up with a lot of gender-variant representation in the media. There weren’t a lot of other characters that spoke to my experience with gender or my experience with queerness, and representation matters.”
Also joining the cast of the space western are Geoff Stults of “Little Fires Everywhere,” Tamara Tunie of “Black Earth Rising,” Rachel House “Thor: Ragnarok,” Ann Truong “Strikeback!,” and Hoa Xuande “Top of the Lake.” Hailing from Tomorrow Studios, “Cowboy Bebop” also stars John Cho as Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir as Jet Black, Daniella Pineda as Faye Valentine, Alex Hassell as Vicious, and Elena Satine as Julia.
Production on the series was shut down in October after Cho sustained a knee injury on set, and then resumed on September 30 in New Zealand.
Midnight Radio’s André Nemec and Jeff Pinkner executive produce and serve as showrunners. Josh Appelbaum and Scott Rosenberg of Midnight Radio are executive producers with Marty Adelstein and Becky Clements of Tomorrow Studios, Yasuo Miyakawa, Masayuki Ozaki, and Shin Sasaki of Sunrise Inc; along with Tim Coddington, Tetsu Fujimura, Michael Katleman and Matthew Weinberg. Shinichiro Watanabe, director of the original anime series, serves as a creative consultant.
Introducing Cowboy Bebop’s Gren @MasonAPark 🚀 Revolutionary as the original anime was, the vocabulary we have today for LGBTQ+ people didn’t quite exist when it aired. For the upcoming live action adaptation, the character is being reimagined as nonbinary with a nonbinary actor. pic.twitter.com/D6E4qC2Sgj
— The Most (@Most) November 19, 2020