Buggy might be one of the more challenging adaptations in One Piece’s first season. While it’s not easy making the Fishpeople look realistic in live-action, it’s something different when you have to convince the world that this pirate world also includes a guy who just casually runs around dressed as a clown with a realistic giant red nose. In a way, Agents of SHIELD alum Jeff Ward is the perfect choice to play the character.
In an interview with Collider, director Marc Jobst shared how they found the perfect Buggy and it turns out Ward just showed up in make-up and made sure that he left a memorable performance. Even early trailers, Ward’s Buggy was a standout for many even when there was some concern early on with the first teaser, but the director highlighted that he “grabbed you by the throat” which sold them on his role.
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.Marc Jobst
The director also goes on to highlight that the biggest challenge for him as a director was definitely trying to film in a giant tent. However, it seems their decision to add Jeff Ward as Buggy pushed the sequence to new heights, especially in how the interactions of Inaki Godoy’s Luffy and Buggy kept elevating the sequence going by his interview.
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 dramaticMarc Jobst
It definitely makes you excited to see the clown pirate in action and raises the question if we’ll get more sequences of him. Buggy is a major character in the franchise with somewhat of a recurring role. It would be a shame not to make good use of Ward’s performance and depending on where they wrap up the first season they may still be keeping him for the second season potentially if it gets renewed.