Live Action Cowboy Bebop … what are they going to do about the smoking?

spike smoking

This is pretty funny. Just read that Keanu Reeves had at one point been tabbed to play “Spike Spiegel” in the live action version of Cowboy Bebop. (Not really sure if live action versions of anime will work, Akira has been in development hell for more than 10 years).

Anyway, here’s where it gets interesting. Cowboy Bebop, a very popular and influential Japanese anime from the 1990s, has a TON of smoking in it. Most of the characters constantly have a cigarette in their mouths. I don’t know what the deal is with Japanese and smoking but the Japanese are really seriously into smoking; you see it in all kinds of anime, even kids’ anime, like Spirited Away. The Japanese are not as hung up on smoking as the West. Unfortunately, Cowboy Bebop goes considerably out of its way to make smoking appear cool and hip, but attitudes have changed in 15 years.

keanu Reeves Live Action Cowboy Bebop

Anyway, the six degrees of Keanu Reeves. Reeves was once in a movie called “Constantine,” which was based on a comic book series called “Hellblazer.” The character in Hellblazer, John Constantine, was a chain-smoker. Hollywood decided to keep Constantine a chain-smoker, but in a decision that was really controversial with Hellblazer fans, made Constantine’s chain-smoking a major plot point; they ended up making the most overtly anti-smoking film I’ve ever seen.

In Constantine, the Reeves character is dying of lung cancer after 20 years of constant smoking. He knows Hell awaits because of a previous suicide attempt; he’s seen Hell and knows what he’s in store for. Constantine hopes that by destroying enough demons walking the earth, he’ll be spared Hell when he dies again, but with his lung cancer diagnosis, he knows he won’t have enough time to collect enough evil souls to spare himself.


He commits suicide again to make a deal with the Devil to spare the life of a friend. However, because Constantine sacrificed himself to save a friend, he now goes to Heaven. The Devil doesn’t want to be denied his due, however, and rips the tumours out of Constantine’s lungs so he’ll continue to live (his lung cancer is black and gooey).


Anyway, that brings me to Cowboy Bebop’s Spike Spiegel. Regardless of whether Reeves is in the film (supposedly, he is no longer a part of the project, but he was at one point) I wonder if they’ll show him chain-smoking like in the 15-year-old anime. Attitudes have changed a lot in just 15 years about media depictions of smoking. If they do, Cowboy Bebop will almost assuredly end up with an R rating, so either the Cowboy Bebop movie will be aiming for an R rating (remember, studios make up their minds long before they begin making movies what ¬†rating they are shooting for), or they’re going to have to make a major change to the Spike Spiegel character and remove his smoking. It will be interesting to see what decision they make.

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3 Responses to Live Action Cowboy Bebop … what are they going to do about the smoking?

  1. Lizard Island says:

    Good write up Pepe. Keanu looks pretty dorky with that hairdo. I’d watch the Cowboy Bebop movie if it comes out.

  2. Good article, Pepe – thanks.

  3. MoMo says:

    Hi, it was actually my lonely facebook page that spawned the idea of Bebopbatch: it was a thing on Tumblr for a while, and then facebook, but it’s basically back down to me now. Benedict Cumberbatch for Spike Spiegel. That would carry it. – Love, Troll

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