We finally know what's up with Ed on Netflix's live-action Cowboy Bebop series
Spoilers ahead for first season of Netflix's Cowboy Bebop.
Netflix's live-action Cowboy Bebop has finally answered a question fans have been asking since the beginning: What the heck is going on with Ed?
The popular character has eluded detection since the show was announced, beyond the fact that we knew the kooky teen hacker known as "Radical Ed" was coming to the series in some form. Now, Netflix has announced that newcomer actor Eden Perkins is playing the role.
Spoiler warning for those who wish to go into the show blind: Netflix also released a GIF on social media showing Perkins in character.
Showrunner André Nemec never said much about how Ed factored into the live-action adaptation of the anime, mainly that, "I think everyone will be pleased."
"To keep the mystery around the character was to not necessarily want to promise that this was going to be a season that was inclusive of Ed, to not necessarily put something that many may find is disappointing out into the world," Nemec now tells EW of maintaining the mystery around the character. "But in fairness, Ed doesn't show up in the anime until many episodes in, maybe about a third of the way through the entire series. So, it felt fair to also keep Ed from showing up [in live-action]."
Ed is a prominent character in the original Cowboy Bebop anime, which first premiered in Japan in 1998. She crossed paths with bounty hunters Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, and Faye Valentine, and was closely associated with the data dog known as Ein.
Live-action Ed doesn't have a prominent role in Cowboy Bebop's first season. In fact — and now this is a major spoiler — she doesn't even show up until the finale episode. That said, the producers are clearly already planning a second season.
Mason Alexander Park, who plays Gren in live-action, told EW they were originally cast in the part with the intent of debuting in season 2. But when the show went on hiatus in the midst of production, due to star John Cho's injury and the COVID-19 pandemic, Nemec and the writers started incorporating season 2 scripts into season 1. So, Ed, it seems, is also part of the season 2 trajectory.
"Ed was such an important character to me because Ed is beyond the disruptor. Ed is the wild card," Nemec explains. "It felt like I needed to understand the core dynamic of the family [Cho's Spike, Mustafar Shakir's Jet, and Daniella Pineda's Faye] before dropping that atom bomb of Ed-ness into the family to create that chaos that was going to spin from it."
The showrunner also wanted proper time to explore the "who and why and what is Ed?" on screen, particularly for those who haven't seen the anime. "It felt like that character deserved more than a C-runner in an episode," he adds.
Should Cowboy Bebop get the official season 2 order, "all about Ed will be revealed," Nemec promises. At this time, a second season hasn't been officially announced.
The producers held an international search for the actor to play Ed, from Los Angeles to Atlanta, from Berlin to Mumbai, from Hong Kong to Australia. But they ultimately found Perkins, a complete newcomer to screen acting right there in New Zealand, where production on season 1 was set up.
Perkins flew from New Plymouth to Auckland to meet with Nemec and workshop the character. "I said to Eden, 'In terms of the Radical Ed-ness, what is it for you?' And they said to me, 'I think Radical Ed is just me when I have too much candy,'" Nemec recalls.
Sure enough, Perkins, who identifies with they/them pronouns while the character of Ed uses she/her, makes their debut in the last scene of the season 1 finale, looking like they're hopped up on sugar.
"Wake up! I have a job for you! A bounty!" Ed shouts at Spike, who's collapsed on the ground in an alley. "Bad man, big reward. We have to find the Butterfly Man. Ooo! Danger, danger! We have to find Volaju! Volaju! Volaju! Before he does spooky, bad things."
Volaju, meaning Vincent Volaju, is another character from the anime. He's a veteran who was experimented on during wartime and later becomes a terrorist. "Butterfly Man" is a reference to how he's constantly hallucinating butterflies.
Nemec plays coy when asked about this moment. "Is that what she says? I don't know," he teases. "It is definitely out there for people to read into it as they will."
Cowboy Bebop is currently streaming on Netflix.
This article was updated with quotes from showrunner André Nemec.
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