'Cowboy Bebop's' Alex Hassell and Elena Satine on Vicious and Julia's Abusive Relationship

Netflix's Cowboy Bebop live-action made a few changes while adapting its source material, Shinichirō Watanabe's original anime.

As well as focusing on Spike Spiegel (John Cho), Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir) and Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda), the show brings other characters to the forefront, namely Spike's arch-nemesis Vicious and his wife Julia.

Alex Hassell and Elena Satine portray the characters in the show, and the Netflix series focuses particularly on the abusive relationship between them.

In scenes that will no doubt come as a shock to viewers, Vicious terrorizes Julia, love bombing her in the early stages of their relationship before revealing his monstrous true self and becoming physically abusive.

He chokes her, breaks a glass in her face, and even shoots a gun at her when he's told to by the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate, only to find out after he pulled the trigger that the weapon wasn't loaded.

Hassell and Satine spoke with Newsweek about portraying the abusive nature of Vicious and Julia's relationship, saying they worked closely together to make sure they both "felt safe" on set.

How they approached portraying Vicious and Julia's abusive relationship

Reflecting on how they approached the scenes, Satine began: "Well we had a lot of conversations, we had a lot of rehearsals, really trying to understand the nuance of this relationship.

"And I think, for me, the most important part was we're existing in such a heightened world, I didn't want to trivialise her experience because we are existing in a heightened world.

"It needed to be grounded because at the heart of what's going on here is a very real thing, and it's a scary thing, and that needed to land, and I felt like it did because we had a lot of conversations about it."

Hassell went on to say they worked with stunt crew and choreographers to ensure everything took place safely on set.

Including his co-star as he spoke, the actor explained: "It was really important for us to take it seriously. And, also, for any of the actual physical stuff we had amazing stunt crew and fight directors, and fight choreography, and we had gone over those things many times together so that we both felt safe, and obviously that you felt safe."

"I think it was fair to say we felt confident in being able to be that intimate and do stuff that is obviously quite disturbing to do but to obviously feel safe while doing it," he added, a sentiment which Satine "absolutely" agreed with.

On Vicious and Julia's new story arcs

In the original anime, Julia plays only a small part as she is mostly depicted as a ghost from Spike's past who can only be described as a damsel in distress.

This is different in the live-action, though, as the character is given her own story and a chance to be more than just the woman in Spike and Vicious' lives.

"I think the arc Julia has in the first season is so satisfying," Satine said of the character. "To take her from this woman who's trapped in an abusive relationship to somebody who finds her strength and navigates her way out of this situation into this new powerful position was really satisfying to play.

"Obviously we had to expand on both these characters because we see so little of them in the anime, but the direction that our writers took was, I mean, just great fun to play."

Vicious, meanwhile, is an iconic anime villain and Hassell said it was "an honor" to be given the chance to play a character like him.

He reflected: "I definitely felt that it was an honor and that I wanted to, as much as possible, live up to the anime and Vicious in the anime, and therefore fans expectations of what [he should be like].

"I mean his name's Vicious, there's a certain level of heightened performance or expectation that goes with that, and that was definitely at the forefront of my mind.

"But, I mainly felt excitement. It's such a fantastically layered part, but also to play a part that people would be interested in before you've even started is a pleasure."

The Cowboy Bebop live-action is out on Netflix now.

Cowboy Bebop live-action cast
Alex Hassell as Vicious and Elena Satine as Julia, the actors spoke to Newsweek about portraying the abusive relationship between their characters. Geoffrey Short/Kerry Brown/Netflix