Temuera Morrison and Ming-Na Wen talk returning to Tatooine with The Book of Boba Fett
The Book of Boba Fett (TV series)
There's a power struggle brewing under the twin suns of Tatooine.
The first two episodes of The Book of Boba Fett have introduced a new chapter in the Star Wars saga, following the believed-dead bounty hunter (played by Temuera Morrison) and his loyal lieutenant Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) as they attempt to fill the power vacuum left by Jabba the Hutt's death.
The seven-episode series is part gun-slinging gangster tale, part meditative story of redemption — and it also puts a bigger spotlight on its two stars. Morrison, 61, and Wen, 58, are no strangers to the Star Wars universe: Wen made her debut in The Mandalorian and lent her voice to the animated series The Bad Batch, while Morrison has an even longer galactic history, playing Boba's father, Jango Fett, in 2002's Attack of the Clones and voicing Boba and many of the clones in the years since.
With two episodes of Boba Fett out now, EW caught up with Morrison and Wen to talk about their return to a galaxy far, far away — and how they brought "Grandma and Grandpa" energy to set.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tem, you've obviously played multiple characters in the Star Wars universe, both live-action and as a voice actor. What was the biggest difference about how you wanted to approach this version of Boba Fett?
TEMUERA MORRISON: I just wanted to be better and do the best work I could ever possibly imagine and bring everything I can. I think back in the day, I didn't know what I was doing. It was 20 years ago when I was doing Jango Fett. I got carried away with wearing the armor, and I was having so much fun getting to work with George Lucas and these ginormous sets. I think I had too much fun. So this time, [I was] a little bit more experienced. Ming-Na and I both, we've both done a little bit of work with television and films here and there, so this was a great opportunity to combine everything and feed off people like [executive producer] Dave Filoni and understand these story lines better, understand a little bit more about Boba Fett's history. I had to draw a lot on our crew who were Star Wars nerds and know all about the history.
MING-NA WEN: And me!
MORRISON: And if I didn't know anything, I could always ask Ming-Na because she was the head of the geek club back in Pittsburgh, and she knew everything about the backstory. [Laughs] Even the grip or the guy pushing the camera, he knew more about Boba Fett than I did. So it was having this pool of talented people around us that made us perform a lot better. We wanted to focus on the work and just keep things moving. Lead from the front, as lead actors should, and you get a lot more respect from the crew. We were one big family.
WEN: It was a family. It's a tribe.
MORRISON: She's Grandma, and I'm Grandpa.
WEN: But we've very good-looking grandparents.
A lot of these first two episodes takes place in Jabba's palace. Ming-Na, when we spoke before, you talked about totally geeking out on that set. What do you remember most about filming there?
WEN: So much. First of all, the details were impeccable. There are just these little Easter eggs they put in. Suddenly your imagination in your bedroom as a kid, playing with your toys, is now the real deal. The throne room moves like it's supposed to. There is a trapdoor. There are all these creatures and characters that have come back from the past.
MORRISON: That was cool when [the platform we were on] got dragged forward.
WEN: I loved pushing that button. I would constantly push that little button that opens the trapdoor. It was so cool.
MORRISON: And not only that throne room, but the sets are so much more dynamic now. They bring them to life.
WEN: And animatronics. Like the mayor. The mayor was ridiculous, right?
MORRISON: He was a poor guy from props, remember? He had to sit in that outfit and remember the lines.
WEN: For hours!
In these first two episodes, we see a lot of flashback scenes with Boba and the Tusken Raiders. There's not a lot of dialogue. Tem, how did you want to approach those scenes where you're not doing much talking?
MORRISON: Yeah, that was all me. I threw all my dialogue out the door. I said, "I'm not speaking, I'm going to be silent." [Laughs] But yeah, I didn't want to say too much. I think it was Ralph Emerson that said, "The ocular dialect needs no translation."
WEN: Now you're being impressive.
MORRISON: That was pretty good, I thought.
WEN: It was very good. I'm very impressed.
The action and the stunt choreography are also such a huge part of this show. For both of you, was there a stunt you learned or a skill you picked up that you are particularly proud of?
WEN: Well, I've had stunt fighting training for so many years now — at least seven or eight with Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and then now doing this. One of the most impressive things, I think, is that people don't realize that stunt fighting is an art form in and of itself. For it to look good and work, you have to know camera angles. You have to know rhythm, how to punch, where to punch. I had an incredible stunt double, Ming Qiu. She's a wushu master, and I've been with her for over 10 years now. She's been my trainer, my confidante, my ball-buster… I love her death. She's my incredible mentor.
MORRISON: It was good to bring the Tusken family into the series as well and find out more about their culture. I work closely with the stunt boys. I was blessed that growing up, we have our traditional Maori dances. We have one of our weapons, which is a staff, and we call it the taiaha. I was blessed that I was able to utilize some of those skills. But again, our stunt team did a great job. If there's anything too dangerous, we had a double on hand just to do the dangerous stuff. But in the end, they couldn't find anyone quite good-looking enough [to double for me], so I had to do all my own stunts. [Laughs] I'm still recovering. But really, it was a wonderful opportunity, not only to show the drama side, but also that Grandma and Grandpa here can still kick it along a little bit.
In this 'Star Wars' spin-off series, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) team up to take over the late Jabba the Hutt’s criminal empire.