War’s over. He’s a peacetime Mandalorian.
So far, the story of this new Disney+ series has stumped Star Wars historians.
Now we’ve learned what life is like in a lawless part of the galaxy after the fall of the Empire as Star Wars Celebration in Chicago revealed the first details of The Mandalorian.
The first episode debuts when the Disney+ streaming service launches on Nov. 12.
“The Mandalorian is a mysterious, lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy,” said Game of Thrones and Narcos star Pedro Pascal, who plays the lead character.
“Some might say he has questionable moral character, in line with some of our best Westerns, and some good samurai [films.] And he’s a badass.”
He doesn’t seem to have an identity, similar to Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” in so many of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns.
“He’s got a lot of Clint Eastwood in him,” Pascal said.
Here are all the updates from the live presentation with executive producer Jon Favreau (Iron Man, the upcoming The Lion King) and the actor playing the masked man.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, executive producer Jon Favreau, and director Dave Filoni (of Rebels and The Clone Wars fame) kicked things off.
Kennedy began by describing Favreau first pitching the idea for the show. “It was instantaneous. We were so excited there was an opportunity to bring this to the screen,” Kennedy said. “I have a feeling that everybody in this room knows that this guy is a rock star” she added, pointing to Filoni, “What could be more exciting than Dave Filoni directing live action?”
She stepped back, and let Filoni and Favreau steer the conversation.
“Dave and I met each other up at the ranch … I was mixing Iron Man,” Favreau said. (That, of course, would be Skywalker Ranch.)
“I was working on The Clone Wars, Season 1,” Filoni said.
They swapped screenings, and were the first to watch each other’s projects. After that, Filoni recruited Favreau to voice the Mandalorian fighter Pre Vizla.
Favreau said he was struck by “the idea of that world after Return of the Jedi, and what would happen, and the type of characters that would survive, and what it was like before the New Republic took over. You have only the strong surviving, you have chaos taking over in the galaxy.”
“Yes, good chaos,” Filoni said.
Favreau says “scum and villainy” is a rich environment for a new Star Wars story.
Pascal joined the stage alongside castmates Gina Carano (Deadpool) and Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed from the Rocky films.)
“That’s what it’s like!” Pascal called out as new images of him holding a blaster and crouching around a corner hit the screen.
“He’s a gunfighter, and a bounty hunter,” Favreau said, goading him.
Pascal said his childhood was shaped by the Star Wars movies and would have gladly played anyone, “a bug …? A robot?” He was stunned to learn Favreau wanted him for the lead.
Boba Fett flew the iconic Slave 1, and Favreau says this new character pilots a gunship called The Razorcrest, which carries a fearsome load of artillery.
Cara Dune is the name of the character Carano plays. “When I got this job, I instantly was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I get to be a part of a whole other family,” she said.
Carano said she portrays an “ex-Rebel shock trooper,” who is “having some trouble reintegrating myself into society.”
Some thought she may have misspoken and meant “Imperial shock trooper,” but Filoni and Favreau tell EW that no, the Rebels had such soldiers, too — basically drop infantry, like paratroopers, that were among the toughest and most resilient.
When the war ends, veterans like Dune found herself adrift, looking for a new place to belong, and haunted by what she had witnessed and done, even in the name of a good cause.
Weathers said his character, known as Greef Karga, is the one who hires the unnamed Mandalorian for his new and perilous mission.
“He is a guy who is running this group of bounty hunters, he’s kind of the head of this guild of bounty hunters,” Weathers said. “There seems to be a lot of nefarious people… He’s looking for someone to go after a product that he wants to bring to a client that’s worth a lot and that’s very valuable, and guess who he finds? He finds a bounty hunter named ‘Mandalorian.’ And The Mando is a guy that he figures can get the job done so he hires this guy, sends him out there and the Mando does what needs to be done.”
Then they screened some footage:
There’s beeping, a pair of boots on a frozen walkway. A tracker is leading The Mandalorian across a snowy wasteland. He enters a small shelter, a bar — silhouetted against the whiteout behind him, like a gunfighter walking through a pair of swinging doors. Some desperate-looking aliens regard him with worry.
Favreau says it takes place five years after Return of the Jedi. We see behind-the-scenes footage of starship, alien crowds, and Pascal’s character, “hunting down quarries.”
There’s an image of The Mandalorian on a Dewback alien, similar to his pose in The Star Wars Holiday Special, welding his forked blaster.
Favreau promises new planets, aliens, and starships as we see imagery of that, along with copious explosions.
“It will feel gritty, it will feel real,” Filoni says.
The main character looks similar to Boba Fett, but Lucasfilm has stated The Mandalorian is not the same person.
This story takes place after the events of Return of the Jedi and tracks the experiences of a man from the same warrior tribe as notorious bounty hunter, who was last seen plunging into the hungry jaws of the Sarlacc pit on Tatooine.
Pascal will be joined in the cast by Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul; Omid Abtahi of American Gods; Emily Swallow of Supernatural; Nick Nolte in an unspecified role.
Even the stoic German filmmaker Werner Herzog will play a part.
The filmmakers revealed that they recruited 501st Stormtrooper Legion, a group of fans who create their own armored costumes, to participate as performers for battle scenes. Favreau and Filoni shared one photo with a group of the cosplayers on set.
The first episode is directed by Filoni, the creative force behind the animated The Clone Wars and Rebels. Other directors stepping behind the camera for episodes are Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones), Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood, Dope), actor-turned-director Bryce Dallas Howard (who made the short film Solemates), and Thor: Ragnarok‘s Taika Waititi.
In addition to executive producing The Mandalorian, Favreau is also a writer, and the series showrunner is Karen Gilchrist, who executive produced The Jungle Book with him.
Another thing we know already is that Favreau is unleashing some heavy-duty, deep-dive nostalgia.
Throughout filming, he has tantalized followers on Instagram with images of characters who may be obscure to casual fans but are iconic to the hardcore ones.
“If you’ve been a fan for 40 years, there’s a lot in here for you,” Favreau told the crowd.
Among those he has teased are:
• IG-88 — the imposing killer droid first glimpsed among the rogue’s gallery of bounty hunters in The Empire Strikes Back.
It turns out the droid in The Mandalorian is not IG-88, but a similar robot. The one in the show is known as IG-11.
Favreau has previously posted an image from a recording session that suggests Waititi is the voice of IG-11.
• R5-D4 — the red and white fail-droid from 1977’s original Star Wars, who fritzes out moments after Luke Skywalker and Uncle Owen buy it and C-3PO from the scavenger Jawas. (That allows them to choose R2-D2 instead, keeping the pair together for their mission.)
• Willrow Hood — this character is famous because he’s so indistinct. He is played by a background extra running through the hall behind Lando Calrissian during the evacuation of Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back, and although the actor is unknown and the character was nameless, he inspired endless jokes and speculation because the “futuristic” device he was carrying was actually an ice cream maker. In his hype for The Mandalorian, Favreau posted this:
What a scoop!
Finally, The Mandalorian has a callback to a truly arcane bit of Star Wars …
• The Star Wars Holiday Special — This 1978 broadcast was actually Boba Fett’s first appearance in the galaxy, turning up in an animated short about a year and a half before The Empire Strikes Back.
Above is the weapon he carried in that short, and below is an image Favreau sent out from the set.
Even though The Mandalorian is not Boba Fett, it seems that old bounty hunter’s shadow looms over it.