- ‘One Piece’ Director Hopes Series “Increases the Love” for the Manga and Anime
- ‘American Horror Story’ Season 2 Almost Starred Margot Robbie
- ‘Reservation Dogs’ Director Blackhorse Lowe Calls the Show’s Ending “Beautiful”
- ‘One Piece’ Episode 4 Recap: The Nine Lives of Captain Kuro
- ‘Reservation Dogs’ Director Blackhorse Low on Crafting Cheese and Big’s Character Arcs
Translating the world of One Piece to live action is no small feat considering how inherently ridiculous Eiichiro Oda‘s original manga can be. Monkey D. Luffy, the series’ protagonist and wannabe King of the Pirates, for example, has the power to stretch and shape himself as needed thanks to the Devil Fruit he consumed as a child. The many people and places he and the Straw Hat Pirates come across along the way are infused with uniquely creative, fantastical ideas that make Oda’s work stand out. When filming for the first season of the Netflix series, however, director Marc Jobst explained to Collider’s Arezou Amin that Buggy the Clown was the toughest to capture of everything.
One Piece is a series all about the epic journey of Luffy as he sails the high seas recruiting pirates for his crew, exploring new lands, and most importantly, searching for Gold Roger’s titular treasure, the One Piece. During his travels, he becomes acquainted with the rival pirate Buggy, one of the series’ most recognizable and most recurring characters who isn’t a part of the Straw Hats. Leader of the Buggy Pirates, he, too, possesses the power of a Devil Fruit, only his allows him to split his body into smaller pieces at will making him a particularly wily foe. That power, however, is also a major reason why Jobst struggled to bring the character to life on-screen.
“Well, Buggy was the biggest challenge, I think, I’d ever had in shooting something,” Jobst said. His main fear was that the clown pirate’s many separated limbs would appear too bizarre when filmed for live-action. “We were all nervous about it in a sense because it’s such a complicated thing to not look ridiculous. And again, because we were creating a grounded world, somehow you’ve got to believe, ‘Well, of course, he can cut himself up into 1000 pieces. Of course. Why would he not?’ So that was the challenge.” In terms of the actor behind the clown makeup, however, there were zero concerns about Brand New Cherry Flavor and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star Jeff Ward stepping into the shoes of Buggy. “When Jeff Ward auditioned for us, he was wearing makeup, and he leapt out of the screen in his audition and grabbed you by the throat, so we knew we had our Buggy.”
Jeff Ward Made Buggy the Clown Really Work for Marc Jobst
Despite all the difficulties of shooting Buggy, it was all worth it for Jobst when he got to see Ward and Iñaki Godoy face off on set. The team’s work is shown off briefly in the full trailer for One Piece which shows the clown pirate cornering Nami and Zoro with his power in a circus tent and preparing an attack while laughing and bellowing all the way. It’s when he confronts the relentless optimism of Godoy’s Luffy, however, that he truly shines says Jobst:
“Then, when we stepped onto the set, and we shot with him on his day one, it’s this enormous huge tent. It’s just a vast set all made out of old canvas sails, and everything, stitched together. We must have had, I don’t know, three, 400 extras in that, and it only just took up about half of the tent, it’s huge. Jeff walked onto that stage, and he roared, and it was beautiful. He owned that stage, and he owned that floor, and it was like, ‘Wow! Now let’s see how Luffy reacts.’ And of course, what was great is that Jeff sort of devoured his words and owned that space, which also made Luffy work harder. So you had this magical thing of Luffy, who’s saying this is fun, and Buggy saying, ‘I’m gonna eat you up,’ and that makes it really electric. And the fact that Luffy wasn’t scared by Buggy’s biting and roaring, and all the rest of it, just made Buggy more angry, which then becomes really dramatic.”
Much of the credit for the episode with Buggy also goes to cinematographer Nicole Whitaker and production designer Richard Bridgland says Jobst. Whitaker, who’s fresh off of working on Taylor Sheridan‘s Special Ops: Lioness for Paramount+, welcomed the change in genre that came with One Piece and embraced the shifts in tone, lighting, and setting as the crew explores the wider world. “It’s a difficult episode to shoot, but I think it was beautifully lit by Nicole and a brilliantly designed set by Richard Bridgland,” Jobst added. “In the darkness of it all, you’ll probably notice if you go back to it, it gets progressively darker, literally the light. So it starts off with lots of colors and lights, and the lights are moving, and we’ve got white, yellow, red, blue and all the rest of it, and gradually, by the time we get into the tank, it’s almost monochromatic.”
Netflix’s One Piece live-action adaptation also stars Emily Rudd, Mackenyu, Vincent Regan, Taz Skylar, Jacob Romero Gibson, and Morgan Davies opposite Godoy. The series premieres on August 31. Check out the trailer below.