Daniella Pineda, Bringing ‘Cowboy Bebop’ to Life (2024)

For “Cowboy Bebop” star Daniella Pineda, the Netflix show’s premiere in Los Angeles last week felt like the light at the end of a “very long, arduous tunnel.” “Because for a while, it seemed as though the world, the universe, whatever you call it, kept throwing stones, preventing us from finishing the show,” she says.

First, it was costar John Cho’s “little boo-boo on his knee.” Cho was injured while filming in fall 2019 and required ACL surgery, which delayed production for several months — which turned into many months with the onset of the pandemic. “So finally reaching this point was just such an achievement,” she says, adding that the upside to the delay is that the show is premiering as the world is opening up, allowing the cast to interact with fans in person.

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Pineda stars in the live-action miniseries of the iconic anime as Faye Valentine, one of the show’s trio of bounty hunters who travel through space aboard a ship named Bebop in the year 2071. The sci-fi Western resonated with Japanese and North American audiences when it aired in the late ’90s, and its legacy has endured.

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“I heard of ‘Cowboy Bebop,’ but I’d never seen it,” says Pineda, adding that she was more of a “Sailor Moon” fan as an adolescent. After getting cast as Faye Valentine, she went back and watched the original anime several times as a blueprint for her character. “Once I did a deep dive into ‘Cowboy Bebop,’ I understood why it’s so iconic,” she says.

Pineda set out to honor the character’s animated version while “having the freedom to flush out and explore this character further,” she says. “The comedy surrounding her impulsivity was very easy for me to dial into and easy to relate to,” she says. “I relate to having a blurry path and not knowing where you come from. Someday I’ll write my memoir, and it’ll tell of the long journey, but there were some personal things in my life that allowed me to tap into her feeling lost.”

The character’s signature (and oft cosplayed) look is a skimpy yellow getup with a red shrug and headband. It was reported that some fans initially took issue with the character’s costuming, which retains the cropped yellow vest and short-shorts, with the addition of black tights, and turns the red shrug into a leather jacket. (As for the purple-hued bop, Pineda is spot-on.)

Daniella Pineda, Bringing ‘Cowboy Bebop’ to Life (3)

“I think the primary reason for the change of her costume, to be honest, had nothing to do with a want or a need for modesty. It came from a functionality standpoint,” says Pineda, noting that the team also took inspiration from the onstage performance looks for singers like Beyoncé and J.Lo. “It was: where can I hide gel? Where can I hide knee pads? What is an outfit that I’m going to be able to function in, episode to episode, every single day for 14-hour shoot days? What is an outfit that I can live in that’s going to keep me safe?”

The 34-year-old actress, born and raised in Oakland, Calif., is part of another famous franchise: “Jurassic Park.” Pineda stars in 2018’s “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” and the upcoming sequel “Jurassic World: Dominion,” which she filmed during the production hiatus of “Cowboy Bebop” early in the pandemic.

She’s in the middle of editing a film she produced and stars in, “In Town,” which was written and directed by her partner Andre Hyland. Pineda is also shopping around a horror script that she wrote. “It feels like the beginning of a new chapter in my career as a producer,” she says.

There’s also the prospect of a second season of “Cowboy Bebop.” While the original anime clocked out at one season, the showrunner of the Netflix series has already spoken about wanting to keep the story going. “Nothing has been confirmed yet, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t talk. It doesn’t mean that there haven’t been plans,” says Pineda. “I know we’re all certainly aching for a season two, so, you know — time will tell.”

Daniella Pineda, Bringing ‘Cowboy Bebop’ to Life (4)

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Daniella Pineda, Bringing ‘Cowboy Bebop’ to Life (2024)
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