Bringing One Piece to live-action – with all its over-the-top antics and wild Devil Fruit powers – was no small feat, and that unsurprisingly extends to the casting of its central character.
During a Q3 earnings call today, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos took a break from talking about things like the streaming platform’s password-sharing crackdown and price increases to tout the success of its One Piece adaptation. In talking about how the company was able to bring its American and Japanese teams together to tackle this “sacred IP,” Sarandos pointed to Netflix’s broad talent base to explain how they found Iñaki Godoy, the actor who brought Monkey D. Luffy to live-action in all his enthusiastic, wholesome glory.
“One of the most difficult casting challenges in the history of our original programming was who’s gonna play Monkey D. Luffy?” Sarandos said during the pre-recorded Q&A.
“[Godoy] was right under our nose, right in our talent family,” the executive went on. “We discovered him a couple years ago and had him in this great show, a Mexican series called Who Killed Sara? And then we were able to cast him in this, and now he’s a global superstar.”
It’s easy to see why Netflix, production studio Tomorrow Studios, and One Piece creator/show executive producer Eiichiro Oda might have had trouble casting everyone’s favorite stretchy pirate captain. Still, Godoy was widely well received by fans and critics alike, with IGN’s review calling his portrayal “shockingly believable”: “His gee-whiz vibe, comical mannerisms, and spot-on delivery of fan-favorite lines help to embody the sometimes clueless yet always heroic pirate,” we wrote at the time.
The anecdote came while Sarandos was rattling off some key figures surrounding One Piece’s success, including the previously revealed fact that it was the No. 1 series in 84 countries at one point – something Stranger Things and Wednesday couldn’t even do.
Netflix has already renewed One Piece for a second season, although there’s no word on when that will be able to head into production amid the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. Talks between the actors’ guild and Hollywood’s studios came to a halt last week when SAG-AFTRA said the industry’s CEOs, a group that includes Sarandos himself, walked away from the bargaining table.
For more on One Piece, check out our wide-ranging interview with showrunner Steven Maeda.
Alex Stedman is a Senior News Editor with IGN, overseeing entertainment reporting. When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her reading fantasy novels or playing Dungeons & Dragons.