John Cho Breaks Silence on ‘Very Shocking’ ‘Cowboy Bebop’ Cancellation: ‘I Was So Bummed’

"I put a lot of my life into it," Cho said about the live-action Netflix anime adaptation, which was canceled in December after just one season.
John Cho in Netflix's "Cowboy Bebop"
John Cho in "Cowboy Bebop"

3, 2, 1 let’s go: John Cho is letting it all hang out when it comes to “Cowboy Bebop.”

Based on the 1990s anime series that premiered stateside in 2001, Netflix’s live-action adaptation was abruptly canceled by the streamer less than three weeks after premiering in November 2021. Now, lead star Cho, who played charismatic criminal leader Spike Spiegel, revealed his reaction over the announcement.

“It was very shocking and I was bummed,” Cho told The Hollywood Reporter while promoting his YA novel “Troublemaker.” He added, “I was very warmed by the response [to the show]. I wish I could have contacted everybody and gotten hugs… 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.

The series grabbed 74 million viewing hours globally in its first week after bowing November 19, but those numbers dropped by 59 percent in its next week. The series also faced mixed critics’ reviews, as the show garnered a disappointing 47 rating on Metacritic.

Shooting on the once-anticipated Netflix series developed by Christopher Yost took its toll on the “Star Trek” and “Columbus” actor. Cho tore his ACL while on set in New Zealand, leading to production shutting down for months. Cho also endured three months of physical therapy.

“I put a lot of my life into it,” Cho continued. “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.”

Soon after the December 9 cancellation, more than 145,000 fans signed a petition to bring “Cowboy Bebop” back for a second season. But the show’s limited fanbase wasn’t enough to convince Netflix to reverse its decision or renew at this stage.

IndieWire’s otherwise negative review of the series called Cho a “saving grace” for the series. “John Cho is an inspired Spike Spiegel,” critic David Ehlrich wrote. “No one could ever hope to embody a character drawn to be equal parts Clint Eastwood, Elliott Gould, and Bruce Lee, but Cho’s breezy and humanizing performance nails the disaffected cool of a death-obsessed bounty hunter in a blue leisure suit.”

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