One Piece. (L to R) Iñaki Godoy as Monkey D. Luffy, Emily Rudd as Nami in season 1 of One Piece. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
Synopsis : Monkey D. Luffy and his pirate crew explore a fantastical world of endless oceans and exotic islands in search of the world’s ultimate treasure to become the next Pirate King.
Creator: Eiichiro Oda
Starring: Iñaki Godoy, Mackenyu, Emily Rudd, Jacob Romero Gibson, Taz Sylar
TV Network: Netflix
Premiere Date: Aug 31, 2023
Executive producers: Marty Adelstein, Becky Clements, Eiichiro Oda, Matt Owens, Steven Maeda
One Piece. (L to R) Morgan Davies as Koby, Iñaki Godoy as Monkey D. Luffy in season 1 of One Piece. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
Exclusive Interview Director Marc Jobst
Q: When they announced the making of the “One Piece” live action series, a lot of people were skeptical — it had a huge fan base for the manga and anime. So what conversation did you have with your producers Matt [Owens] and Steven [Maeda] about the production?
Marc Jobst: First of all, it’s important to raise the question, “Why do a live action version of this?” The manga was phenomenal and the anime was hugely successful, so what did we think we could add by doing a live action version? We discussed this with Steve and Matt together, because we needed to have a reason for doing it in live action. Otherwise, we would just be replicating something that already exists so what’s the point in doing that?
We all thought we really had something very particular that we could bring to this that didn’t necessarily exist within the manga or anime. That was a fully rounded, warm-blooded human being with an emotional life, a back story and all the frailties that come from being a human. When you’re working in the two-dimensional world, you can be anything, draw anything — anything is possible.
You bring it into a three-dimensional world and you’re embodying those characters. That fundamentally brings something new to the manga and to the anime. We hoped more than anything else, that what we’ve done will excite and inform the fans and bring a new understanding to their love of the anime, the manga and vice versa. Their understanding informs how they look at the live action.
We want to say, “Look at this, understand these characters, get to know them, fall in love with them. And maybe when you look at the anime and start reading it, what you’re getting is a three-dimensional world from this crazy manga, right?”
One Piece. Emily Rudd as Nami in season 1 of One Piece. Cr. Joe Alblas/Netflix © 2023
Q: You directed the first two episodes — What was your relationship to the original Eiichiro Oda’s manga, and what element of Oda-san’s manga did you use? What was your approach to it?
Marc Jobst: One of the most special things about Steven and Matt’s scripts is that they come with a kind of explosive energy and action — a wildness with whimsy and goofiness. But beyond all the rest of it, you also have these kinds of really intimate moments. What Steve and Matt captured so beautifully in their scripts is this intimacy and insight into what it is to be human, to be loyal, to be a friend, and what it is to bring hope to people.
Luffy is saying, “Be who you are, whatever it is, and I’m going to help you be who you are.” Of course, it’s the antithesis of what Luffy believes in. But if that’s what Kobe wants to be, he wants him to be who he wants to be. And Inaki [Godoy], who plays Luffy, has that special sort of personality. He’s the most joyful character to be with. When I first started working with him, he was 17.
I’ve never known a 17-year-old who listened so carefully. He’s 19 now and I think the reason why he’s special is that he listens even though he does all this kind of craziness. Morgan [Davies], who plays Koby, knew that and we rehearsed it many times playing it different ways, looking at ways of blocking it and all the rest of it. It was so important to get that gentleness and kindness out of the character who is, generally, quite explosive.
One Piece. Jacob Romero Gibson as Usopp in season 1 of One Piece. Cr. Casey Crafford/Netflix © 2023
Q: What was it like filming the various fighting sequences, particularly with Nami [Emily Rudd]?
Marc Jobst: The action sequences were very important so that affected how we cast the show. We needed actors who were physically fit, strong and able to sustain the choreography because I like to shoot action in big fluid moves and not rely on cutting all the time or putting in stunt doubles. I shot a lot of these fight sequences. It’s one of the things that I learned when I shot the sword fight for the pilot of “The Witcher.”
There’s nothing more exciting than watching that dance in the midst of a fight sequence. So for me, the way that we distinguished the action from “One Piece” and the Marvel shows that I had shot, for example, is that what I’d shot had all this punch. They’re gritty, dark, dirty, painful, bloody and slow motion — all that sort of stuff. For “One Piece,” it felt like we needed a different kind of style.
We needed to find something that was more playful and enjoy the choreography more, not necessarily to constantly go for the hit and the win. So we were much more “Kung Fu Hustle,” much more “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon…” than anything from Marvel Studios.
Q: How did you construct the relationship between Shanks and Luffy —which is a key element in the early episodes of the manga and anime — for the live action series?
Marc Jobst: It’s an iconic element in the manga. So it was one of the very few scenes where I really wanted to clearly reference the framing of the manga by and large. We weren’t seeking to replicate in the live action [version] the same frames that were in the manga. We wanted to honor the spirit of him, but that particular scene has such iconic imagery to it.
I felt it was really important that we got that right. Of course, that scene only works if you get all the preceding scenes with Shanks right. So in shooting that scene, I was really preparing for that iconic scene. So it’s really important that the energy and the friendship between Shanks and Luffy was built beforehand in order to land that scene. If we didn’t have that, that scene wouldn’t have the impact that I think it does. We know Luffy cares about Shanks, we know Shanks cares about Luffy.
Shanks goes after the monster and saves him. So all those scenes that lead up to that moment deliver the importance of what is going on in his head. It was a joy to work with Colton [Osorio] (he played the young Luffy) who worked so hard. I never ever directed someone who produced such a great result. If we could get tears, it would have been phenomenal. I never asked him to cry in this scene but he knew what the scene needed. For such a young actor, he really delivered in front of the whole crew.
One Piece. (L to R) Mackenyu Arata as Roronoa Zoro, Aidan Scott as Helmeppo in season 1 of One Piece. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023