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One Piece’s Live-Action Nami Casting Was “Really Important” To Netflix Show Director: “She Has So Much Depth To Her Being”-TGN

Summary

  • Emily Rudd’s passionate campaign to land the role of Nami in the live-action One Piece show impressed director Marc Jobst, who praised her ability to put aside her fandom and fully immerse herself in the role.
  • Jobst emphasized the importance of casting an actor who can respond in the moment and not bring any preconceived notions or baggage into the scenes. He appreciated that Rudd’s preparation didn’t interfere with their work on set.
  • In addition to physical beauty, Jobst was keen on casting actors with depth and beautiful spirits.


With the actor herself taking strides for years to land the part, director Marc Jobst reveals why casting Nami for the live-action One Piece show was important for him. Introduced in chapter 8 of Eiichiro Oda’s iconic manga, and briefly in the pilot of the anime adaptation, Nami is introduced as a thief who specifically robs other pirates, with her motivations behind her thievery not revealed until later on. She eventually joins Monkey D. Luffy as the Straw Hats Pirates’ navigator in their quest to find the mythical One Piece treasure and fulfill her dream of completing a map of the entire world.

Ahead of the show’s premiere, Screen Rant spoke exclusively with Marc Jobst to discuss Netflix’s live-action One Piece show. When asked about Emily Rudd’s passionate campaign to land the role of Nami, the director praised her ability to put aside her fandom to still “work in the moment” and recalls how casting the role in particular was one of the most important for him among the show’s roster. See what Jobst explained below:

That’s a really interesting question. Emily works in the moment, so I never felt like she was bringing baggage into the room. I only ever felt that she was always responding in the moment, and that is the greatest gift you can have as a director is when you have an actor who steps into a scene with another actor, and listens and responds, but doesn’t say, “Oh, I don’t think Luffy would do that, or Sanji would never.” They’re just in the moment and responding to it, so I never know if she even had preparation for the scenes that she was doing.

If she was bringing her knowledge into her prep, I never felt like it got in the way of what we were doing on the floor. And, you know, working with Henry Cavill on The Witcher, Henry is a huge fan of The Witcher, he’s a big game player, and all the rest of it, and the great actors just let it inform their performance, they don’t let it dominate their performance.

The other lovely thing about Emily is she’s beautiful, obviously, and Nami is a beautiful character, but she has so much depth to her being. We were really keen that all our actors weren’t just beautiful, we weren’t really after that, we were after beautiful spirits. Again, it’s the thing that you can’t create on the screen, the screen knows when it’s there, the film will find it in you if it’s there. With all these actors, all the actors that we cast, I feel they have that extra element. And with Nami, it was really important, again, that you cast somebody who has depth to them somewhere in their soul, in order for the character not just to be two dimensions.

Editor’s Note: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, and the show covered here would not exist without the labor of the writers and actors in both unions.


How One Piece’s Nami Casting Can Avoid Cowboy Bebop’s Struggles

Star Emily Rudd has been very open about her passion for trying to land the role of Nami throughout her career, recently revealing her “not-so-secret” game plan to convince the team behind the show to cast her. In the lead-up to its premiere, she has continued to hype the show’s devotion to its source material, namely in adapting Nami’s emotional manga arc in which she betrays her new friends and takes their earnings to the fishman pirate Arlong in the hopes of purchasing the freedom for her home village, Cocoyashi.

As is the case with any live-action adaptation of a beloved manga and anime, casting is a key factor in helping capture the attention of both longtime fans of a property and those new to the universe. While the majority of Netflix’s prior live-action anime effort, Cowboy Bebop, was met with positive anticipation, Daniella Pineda’s Faye Valentine casting scored a lot of backlash upon its announcement, as the departure from her appearance in the original, in which she wore far more revealing clothing. Pineda frequently defended these changes, with original Spike Spiegel voice actor Steve Blum also speaking up in her defense.

Upon Cowboy Bebop‘s premiere, though, the changes to Faye proved evident in her actual depiction as well, doing away with her professionalism in the bounty hunter sphere, while retaining some of her independent nature. Though Jobst’s reflection on the search for One Piece‘s live-action Nami could indicate a similar desire to evolve her character past her source material counterpart, the reality is there aren’t many changes needed, as the navigator was always a pretty well-realized character. Additionally, with Oda’s involvement well-documented on the Netflix adaptation, and Jobst looking to find someone with the same soul as the original, Rudd’s casting could very well be one of many elements that help it overcome both the anime curse, and Cowboy Bebop‘s prior struggles.

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