Director of Cowboy Bebop Shinichiro Watanabe shared some exciting details about his interactions with Hollywood in a candid career interview with Forbes.
Watanabe first explained his level of engagement with Netflix's live-action Cowboy Bebop adaptation: essentially none. Watanabe is listed as a consultant, yet he hasn't actually seen a single episode of the show from beginning to end. "I received a video from watching and evaluating from them. It began with a scenario in a casino, which made it quite difficult for me to keep reading. I came to a stop there, so I only witnessed the opening scene. Clearly, it wasn't Cowboy Bebop."
In his interview, Watanabe shared that he had initially considered becoming more heavily involved in the production of Cowboy Bebop, but ultimately decided against it. He reflected that, in hindsight, he wonders if that was the right choice. He also noted that the anime has gained even more recognition and appreciation in recent years.
The conversation then shifted to Watanabe's experience working on The Animatrix anthology anime, where he recounted his interactions with Hollywood producer Spencer Lamm. Watanabe described Lamm as making numerous questionable requests and acting as a barrier between him and the Wachowskis, only allowing ideas to pass through if he personally approved of them.
Watanabe said that their relationship was so bad that "if I saw that producer, I would just punch him in the face" when he went to Los Angeles for the recording sessions. Watanabe referred to Lamm's absence from the recordings as "unheard of." According to IMDb, Lamm produced The Animatrix in 2003 and served as executive producer on the Matrix-related short "Final Flight of the Osiris." Web design is one of his other accomplishments.
Watanabe said that while working on The Animatrix, he had to give up some of his original ideas, but the experience taught him how to deal with difficult people. He made the amusing observation that his current approach to dealing with people who interfere is to "send back very small corrections or adjustments just before the deadline."
Watanabe stated that Japanese and American producers are not that different and that he has had positive experiences with American producers when discussing his relationship with Hollywood in general. He now receives numerous offers from the United States with budgets "almost double" Japan's. However, he continues to focus on the issue of preserving his projects' creative autonomy.
"If you work with a Hollywood producer, you have to fight. Otherwise, you will be unable to represent what you want to do."