Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop is reimagining Gren as nonbinary with a nonbinary actor

Hedwig and the Angry Inch actor Mason Alexander Park has been cast to play the fan-favorite character

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Netlfix’s Cowboy Bebop has cast nonbinary actor Mason Alexander Park as fan-favorite character Gren, who will be reimagined as nonbinary in the live-action adaptation.

Though Gren, whose full name is Grencia Mars Elijah Guo Eckener, was not labeled as nonbinary in the anime, Gren’s fluid sexual identity in the original series strongly suggests that the character is not exclusively masculine or feminine.

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In the anime, Gren is an aspiring saxophone player at the club known as the Rester House. A Titan War veteran, Gren was subjected to experimental drugs that increased their estrogen and caused them to grow breasts.

“Revolutionary as the original [Cowboy Bebop] anime was, the vocabulary we have today for LGBTQ+ people didn’t quite exist when it aired. For the upcoming live-action adaptation, the character [of Ren] is being reimagined as nonbinary with a nonbinary actor,” announced Netflix on Twitter, along with a video of Alexander Park confirming their casting.

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“I will be playing my favorite role from the anime, Gren, who is a sexy, nonbinary icon who, in our version, runs the front-of-house for Ana’s jazz club. Now the character was originally described to me as the ‘Bowie-esque embodiment of 22nd-century handsome and seductive beauty,’” said Alexander Park, who toured nationally with the Broadway version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Alexander Park continued: “Being a nonbinary actor who is given the opportunity to breathe new life into an existing nonbinary character has been the thrill of a lifetime. It’s remarkably meaningful to me because I didn’t grow up with a lot of gender-variant representation in the media. There weren’t a lot of other characters that spoke to my experience with gender or my experience with queerness.”

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While some fans were pleased by Netflix’s decision to reimagine Gren as nonbinary with a nonbinary actor, others weren’t supportive of the streamer’s move. In a series of tweets, Alexander Park pointed out that Netflix isn’t “changing” Gren’s gender identity “for some woke culture,” stressing that the Gren described themselves as “both at one and neither one” in the anime.

Alexander Park is one of the six new actors that were recently added to the show’s cast. Aside from Alexander Park, Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop also cast Geoff Stults (Little Fires Everywhere) as Jet’s ex-partner, Chalmers; Tamara Tunie (Black Earth Rising) as Martian club owner Ana; Rachel House (Thor Ragnarok) as White Tigers Capo, Mao; and Ann Truong (Strikeback!) and Hoa Xuande (Ronny Chieng: International Student) as Vicious’s twin henchmen, Shin & Lin.

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The sextet joins previously announced cast members John Cho as Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir as Jet Black, Daniella Pineda as Faye Valentine, Alex Hassell as Vicious and Elena Satine as Julia.

Production on the first season of the series resumed on September 30th in New Zealand after the New Zealand government gave the green light to continue following the country’s COVID-19 shutdown. Prior to the start of the pandemic, filming of the series was also shut down after Cho sustained a knee injury on set.

Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop doesn’t have a premiere date yet.

Sources: IndieWire, Deadline