The live-action adaptation of the beloved manga and anime has gotten off to a good start, hitting the service alongside glowing reviews.
After a string of failed anime-to-live-action adaptations for Netflix, One Piece seems to break the mold, with the biggest point of praise being its "killer cast."
Amongst that cast is the central band of Straw Hat Pirates, made up of Luffy the rubber man captain, Zoro the swordsman, Usopp the marksman, Sanji the chef, and Nami the thief. Getting these characters right was critical, heading into the series' live-action debut.
The Importance of Casting One Piece's Nami
One Piece director Marc Jobst revealed just how "important" it was casting Nami for Netflix's live-action adaptation.
In a conversation with ScreenRant, Jobst praised Emily Rudd's take on the iconic character, remarking "Emily [is] beautiful, obviously, and Nami is a beautiful character, but she has so much depth to her being:"
"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."
He added that this "depth" was something "you can’t create on the screen," instead "the screen knows when it’s there." That is why it was "really important" that for Nami specifically they "cast somebody who has depth to them:"
"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."
According to the director, "[Rudd] worked in the moment" while filming, never "bringing baggage into the room:"
"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."
"That is the greatest gift you can have as a director," when the actors are "in the moment and responding to it," opined Jobst:
"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."
Why Emily Rudd Was Perfect for Nami?
It has been made clear in the lead-up to Netflix's One Piece, that this was a series by fans, for fans. And that extends to the show's cast.
Emily Rudd, herself, has been an enthusiastic follower of One Piece for years, so she of all people knew what to bring when it came to translating Nami and the rest of the Straw Hats to live-action.
She clearly cares about the role and seeing this franchise succeed in this new medium.
While speaking with GamesRadar about her work on the series, Rudd addressed specific arcs she couldn't wait to see in the show, some of which she was actually "nervous" to perform because they mean so much to her.
It is good to hear that the actress' "depth" in her work was specifically looked at when it came to casting her as well.
While some may look at Nami from the outside and not seem much, the character is actually one of the most integral parts of the One Piece story, having been a part of the ongoing manga and anime for nearly 25 years.
As the story goes on with all these central One Piece characters, Nami included, these fun personalities start to peel back layer by layer, revealing these incredibly deep and relatable archetypes for fans to latch onto.
Hopefully, Netflix's version of the show will get the green light for a Season 2, so that even more of Rudd's Nami can be explored going forward.
The live-action One Piece show can be streamed now on Netflix.