Netflix's upcoming live-action adaptation of One Piece has a lot of pressure to get it right. The massive franchise from creator Eiichiro Oda has been running for over 25 years at this point, and those fans have high hopes for Netflix's attempt – especially after the latest trailer. And there's perhaps no greater pressure on a member of the cast than Iñaki Godoy, who portrays the young man who wants to be king of the pirates, Monkey D. Luffy.
Ahead of the show's release on August 31, GamesRadar+ had a chance to catch up with Godoy alongside his fellow Straw Hats all about the show, translating the manga and anime to the live-action screen, and more. Also, Godoy got real about the most powerful Straw Hat, which is obviously very important.
The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length. Additionally, it was conducted prior to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, which you can read more about here.
GamesRadar+: I feel like live-action adaptations of anime or manga can be a bit of a hard sell. How do you personally pitch the show to people?
Iñaki Godoy: Well, the show is made by people who love One Piece. We love the manga, we love the anime, we think they're great. And the only thing we want to do is honor that and get more people into it. We don't want to do anything else but honor the work of Mr. Oda and get more people to enjoy it too, because it's such a powerful story. And the whole world should know about it.
I mean, so many people know about One Piece already. But I want your grandpa to know what One Piece is. I want your grandma – I want everybody to know what One Piece is. And, for the people who are already fans, to be able to relive those iconic moments. And you know, there's something really special about seeing your favorite characters as real people too. There's a special kind of magic to it.
You touched on this a little bit, but One Piece is easily the best-selling manga of all time. The anime is wildly popular. You're starring as Luffy, arguably the centerpiece of the live-action adaptation. That is a lot of pressure! Was there ever a moment for you of like, "Oh, God, I have to get this right," or…?
Of course! Of course! Of course there was a lot of pressure. There is a big responsibility to honor the work of more than 20 years of a man, you know? He's been writing this since he was 17. Not only just honor Mr. Oda, but honor the anime too. Mayumi Tanaka, she has been performing this character for so long. And the way they've been doing the anime for so long too, and there are so many people who have grown up with Luffy, and the Straw Hats and the world of One Piece. So you want to respect that, and you want to honor that.
But if there's one thing that I have learned from One Piece, it's that even though things are challenging, you have to find a way to have fun. So yeah, there was a lot of pressure, there was a lot of anxieties, but there was also a lot of fun! And there was a lot of love. And just like any adventure, it was exciting. You know, I was so excited to get to be a part of something this massive and so incredible, and it's an exciting adventure.
Luffy is a character that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people – characters fictionally in One Piece, people in real life – but one thing that's undeniable, I would say, is that folks are drawn to him. Why is that, do you think? What is it about him, to you, that compels people?
I think Luffy is a very kind person. And he also encourages people to follow their dreams. He doesn't want to change anyone. He just wants to enjoy life, and he will respect whatever you want to do as long as it doesn't get in the way of anybody's freedom. He encourages freedom, he's a free person himself. I think that attracts people, because we all want freedom, right? We all need that. And he has a really beautiful smile.
You know he has the ability to stretch and generally act like rubber, which I think is fairly known, but obviously you yourself do not. What was that like for you? How did you as an actor try to make that work? Like, what was going through your head as you're like, stretching your arms or blowing your tummy up?
Well, we have an amazing stunt team, and we have an amazing special effects team. And they worked to do the choreographies. So, I will do my action scenes, they will tell me, "So in this part, you have to like throw the punch, and then you have to imagine that the punch in the punch goes like all the way, then you wait like three seconds and it hits, and then you pull it back." Right?
So, for me, I just really had to use my imagination, which is just my job. I imagine things! Sometimes I'm a rubber man, sometimes I'm a chupacabra. I've had to do a lot of things where I've had to imagine extraordinary things happening with my body. I had to use my imagination. I looked at how rubbery things moved.
And also, you know, there's already the anime Luffy; I can see the way he fights. So if I can use that as reference, then that's great. I can see that in the anime when he throws a punch, and when he pulls back, sometimes he puts his hand right here over his bicep, and like, it kind of moves a little bit. So if I have that visual reference from the anime, I will use that too for my action scenes involving the stretchy powers. But the big people here are the special effects people and the stunt people. Those are the ones who really had the challenge to figure it out.
Now I do have one particularly difficult question here, so I'm going to preface this... In your opinion, who is the most powerful member of the Straw Hat Crew?
Oh, man. It's gotta be God D. Usopp, man. It's gotta be God D. Usopp. Oh yes; oh yeah.
The Sniper King? Yeah, OK.
Sniper King, army of more than 10,000 men. You know, he is the GOAT. He's the GOAT. Easy question, man. Easy question. I thought you were gonna make something difficult? Easy.
To go back to One Piece more generally, we touched on this a little bit, but One Piece has been around for a very long time and has seen contemporaries come and go both in manga and anime. What is it that you think makes One Piece itself so endearing?
It's a story about a lot of things. It touches on a lot of different subjects. Mr. Oda created a story where you can visit lots of different islands and every single island can hold a different theme, different characters, different adventures; it's never just the same thing. It is a story about dreams, but it's also a story about a lot of different subjects too.
When you move forward in One Piece, there's a lot of subjects like slavery and racism and war, but also joy and fun and friendship. So I think that's why One Piece has been going on for so long. Every time the Straw Hats visit a different island, it's a different adventure with different themes and different characters. And I think people really enjoy seeing that. And, you know, any island they visit, the Straw Hats are already so compelling and so amazing characters. Wherever they go, it's going to be interesting to see how it goes.
Do you have a personal favorite arc? If so, what is it and why?
Oh, man. So far, I really love Enies Lobby. I think that was my favorite arc. But! But, but, but, I will say this. I think the Foxy arc… I think the Foxy arc, I think it has something special too. Iunno. I really liked the afro Luffy. I think that was really nice, but Enies Lobby is the best one for me. I really love that one, but hey, I love Foxy. I don't know, I think it's just a funny villain. I don't know… his weird nose and like his power? Man, I think he's a funny guy. I think it's a funny arc.
What do you hope people take away from the show when they are finally able to get a chance to see it in full?
I hope that anyone who sees the One Piece live action will be entertained and on the edge of their seats. But I hope that, beyond that, they also feel inspired to think about their dreams and their friends.
The live-action adaptation of One Piece is set to release on Netflix on August 31. If you're looking for something to watch between now and then, you can check out our list of the 50 best Netflix shows to watch right now.