Two weeks ago, I set sail on a voyage to find the perfect flesh and blood actors who would be suitable to play live action adaptations of One Piece‘s central protagonists, the Straw Hat Pirates. As fun as it was, it was also quite a daunting task. So much so that I was yet to solidify the perfect person to play the anime’s leading man, Straw Hat Luffy. I promised myself to come back with the perfect choice on the grounds that I would also take that time to cast a handful of the show’s Minor Characters as well. For the sake of my own sanity, I have chosen to focus explicitly on characters introduced to us in Season One that will be seen frequently throughout the series progression.
So without further ado, let’s raise anchor and begin today with the man who started it all.
Pirate King Gol D. Roger: Rupert
Okay, I swear to god that this is the very last time I ever cast someone who isn’t really an actor. I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help myself. But before you all send me to the gallows, the least you can do is let me explain myself. So Gold Roger is the man who changed the tide of the entire world by jump-starting the great era of pirates, right? The same way that the debut of Survivor in the year 2000 changed television forever. Everyone knows now that reality shows are just over dramatized game shows, but back then it was something really new and compelling, and of the 200+ odd contestants that have competed on that show to date, arguably the most popular contestant of all is this man; Rupert Boneham. Not only was he originally on the Pirated themed season of Survivor, I can rest easy knowing that he’d be able to wear Roger’s completely over-the-top ‘stache and rockstar hair without making me laugh to tears. No, I doubt he has any real acting experience, but from what I’ve seen from him in the three seasons he has competed on Survivor, he has a very powerful presence and his energy in a challenge is addictive. I could totally hear his voice speaking Roger’s powerful quotes of freedom and following your dreams.
Besides, if what people have been teasing me about for years now is true, and Survivor really is staged and completely fake, then yeah I suppose Rupert is a damn good actor.
Red Hair Shanks: David Thewlis
The man our hero idolizes and whom gave him his trademark straw hat. For him I have chosen David Thewlis. While not exactly a household name, kids everywhere might recognize this man as Harry Potter’s Professor Remus Lupin, AKA Moony. Ironically enough, in those movies, not only did Thewlis have a very similar hairstyle to Shanks, but he also had an almost identical three-cut scar across his face, so I know he’ll look the part perfectly fine. Shanks is a challenge to get right acting-wise, because while he does give off an aura of someone ages older and wiser than he is, he still has a very young-spirited nature about him. Yet it’s more genuinely young-spirited and not so much goofy or farcical. It’s complicated, but I would love to see Thewlis pull it off.
Coby: Sekai Murashige
Marine Cadet in-training, our hero’s rival, and the show’s quintessential underdog. I’ve always thought that Masi Oka fifteen years ago would have been a perfect fit for the part of Coby, so in retrospect, I’ll do just that; Hiro Nakamura fifteen years younger, and the boy who played him in said flashbacks was this young man, Sekai Murashige. For the record, this kid does not have a ton of film credits besides his small part in Heroes, but whatever, he’s still just a kid. They got to start somewhere.
Iron Club Alvida: Helena Bonham Carter
A female pirate captain who is introduced to us as the [strictly self proclaimed] fairest woman of all the seas, and then returns to us as the [legitimately debatable] fairest woman of all the seas after eating the Smooth Smooth Devil Fruit. As our very first Antagonist, you need open with one hell of a performance, so I’m going to play it safe and go with… that one actress. Oh, don’t tell me you don’t know who that one actress is. You know, that one actress who plays all the crazy roles. You know, like Bellatrix in Harry Potter, and the so-weird-she’s-hot girl in EVERY SINGLE TIM BURTON MOVIE EVER. Yeah, her. I have complete faith in Ms. Carter’s abilities. The only problem is that Helena is probably the only actress in the entire world that could look at a role where she gets to play a pirate captain in a fat suit and fight with a giant mace, and go, “eh… not wacky enough for me.”
Buggy The Clown: Willem Dafoe
Captain of the Buggy Pirates (cough original cough), a bitter former associate of Shanks, and wielder of the powers of the Chop Chop Fruit. Much like my choice for Alvida, here was another instance of me playing it safe. ‘Pick one of the scariest looking actors of the modern movie making age to play the clown? Woo hoo, way to break the mold.’ Yeah, and you know what? I don’t care. It’s not like I can pick Heath Ledger anymore. And Mark Hamill is too busy doing voice work in every single animated series worth mentioning. So yeah, it’s all yours Dafoe. Go nuts.
Dracule Hawkeye Mihawk: Johnny Depp
The first of the Shichibukai (Seven Warlords of the Sea) to grace us with their presence, a long time rival of Shanks, not to mention the most powerful swordsman in the entire world. If One Piece ever were to get off the ground and make it big in Hollywood, it is an immediate given that everyone in America will be going, “Who’s Johnny Depp going to play? Who’s the next Jack Sparrow?” and so on, and so forth. It’s inescapable, so if he’s got to play someone, then I am going to give him Hawkeye. We all know that Depp is known for playing the off-kilter comedic leading man in many of his roles, and Hawkeye could not be further from the typical Johnny Depp role. He’s cold, subtle, and soft spoken. With that being said, it would be a nice change of pace to see Depp play a strait up badass. He’s past due for a role like that, especially when we know he’s more that capable of pulling it off.
Captain Smoker: Hugh Jackman
The Marines’ “White Hunter,” a man possessing the power of the Plum Plum Fruit who is hell bent on capturing Straw Hat Luffy and bringing him to custody. To be honest, I really fought this choice for a long time. It’s nothing against Hugh Jackman, I think he’s awesome. I’m just so afraid of this looking like a huge-ass stereotype, (yeah even more than my choice of Dafoe as Buggy). Like ‘of course I would cast Wolverine as the loose cannon hunter who chain smokes cigars and has a scene where he rides a motorcycle.’ I tried so hard to find someone I felt would fit the part better, and I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t. What also sold me was the fact that Hollywood has thus far done a bang up job at finding this guy other characters to play than Wolverine, so I guess I have, too. You’re welcome.
Petty Officer Tashigi: Ellen Wong
Captain Smoker’s strongest subordinate, who’s made it her duty to hunt down and defeat Luffy’s first mate, pirate hunter Zoro. There was no way I was going to end this list without casting at least one actor/actress from the most underrated and awesome movie of my generation, and now, I think I’ve found a great match. Ellen Wong is best known for her movie debut as Knives Chau in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and that is all she needs to win my certificate of approval. Tashigi would be great for her, because like Knives, it is a character that is a total badass while also occasionally being a bit of a klutz. I’ll admit she looks a little young for the part, but not really enough to disqualify her. Plus, it’s an excuse for her to get back in the blue highlights.
And with that, we go to our final character.
Revolutionary Dragon: Alan Rickman
The most wanted criminal in the entire world. A man cloaked in mystery, and unbelievable power. Here is a character that is very seldom seen, yet promises to play a huge impact on events yet to come. So, to play this dark, ominous man of mystery, I have chosen the king of dark, ominous, mysterious men, Alan Rickman. This may be my fourth casting choice from someone in Harry Potter (Felton from my Straw Hat cast was first), but Rickman is someone who has made a name for himself long before he ever stepped into the cloak of Severus Snape. And just the idea of seeing Dragon’s one big scene from Season One, hearing Rickman’s voice coming out a hooded figure who’s face is hidden in the shadows, only to be revealed with the crack of lightning, which he himself probably created. Perfect Alan Rickman Role.
And that there is nine reoccurring cast members for the supporting cast of One Piece Season One.
Oh yes, that’s right. Thought I almost forgot again didn’t cha? Well after plenty of time and effort, I think I finally found it: the perfect person to play Monkey D. Luffy. There’s not doubt about it, this guy is the epitome of purity and the child like bliss that Luffy represents. An actor of indomitable spirit and a paragon of energy and stupidity.
Hey, if I’m dumb enough to cast a Survivor contestant as Roger, than I’m dumb enough to be Luffy, okay?
And now I’m hungry. “Sanji! Food!”
P.S. This was my very first attempt at cosplay. There’s still some pieces missing, like a smaller vest and the yellow buttons. I’m working on it.
Oh wait! Something I did almost forget.