By Zach Johnson
After the legendary stories of Jango and Boba Fett, a new warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe: The Mandalorian. The first-ever live-action Star Wars series, named after the title character, is set after the fall of the Empire and before the arrival of the First Order. From Disney Legend Jon Favreau and executive producers Dave Filoni, Kathleen Kennedy, and Colin Wilson, the first season will follow the adventures of a lone gunfighter (Pedro Pascal) in the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic. The first episode will debut on Disney+ at launch on November 12.
In addition to Pascal, the series’ cast includes Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, Emily Swallow, Taika Waititi, Giancarlo Esposito, and Omid Abtahi. Recently, D23 attended the global press conference for the series, where Favreau, Filoni, Pascal, Carano and Weathers shared spoiler-free details about the first season.
“We wanted to start fresh with a whole new set of characters you never met before,” said Favreau. Still, there are Easter eggs for longtime fans to find (including ones from the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special). “If you were watching and if you knew about it—and this is where Dave has really been a treasure trove—we tried to work that stuff in.” But to preserve the series’ integrity, the creative forces behind the series showed restraint in that regard, Favreau added: “There is a discipline about it.” Still, he took several creative risks as a writer. Just know that for any change, “We really deliberated over it, discussed it and thought it through. So, if we depart in any way, we know we are—but it’s with a plan. Part of it also is: ‘What is the big arc?’ That is the other thing.”
Although Favreau has directed blockbuster films such as Iron Man, The Jungle Book, and The Lion King, he entrusted Filoni, Waititi, Rick Famuyiwa, Deborah Chow, and Bryce Dallas Howard with the directorial duties on The Mandalorian. Favreau has a keen eye for talent, as Chow was hired in September to direct the upcoming untitled Obi-Wan Kenobi series for Disney+, which will begin shooting in 2020 and see actor Ewan McGregor reprising his role. “You’re going to see a lot of people who are working in this incubator of story and technology—really, people who got together because they love Star Wars,” Favreau shared. “I think the enthusiasm seems to be very contagious.”
Filoni, who cut his teeth in Star Wars animation, admitted he had become a sponge while preparing to direct the first and fifth episodes of The Mandalorian: “I was on set every day the whole season, so I learned by watching every single one of our directors. I learned by watching our great cast and everyone behind the scenes. I treated it as a boot camp for me to learn this type of filmmaking.” Filoni, who had worked closely with Star Wars creator and Disney Legend George Lucas on The Clone Wars and other projects, said his biggest takeaway was determining what he could accomplish in one day. For example, he once arrived on a backlot and the director of photography told him the sun had risen and it was time to start shooting. “I’m like, ‘Oh, right! Because it’s going to go down,’” he said, laughing. “In animation, you don’t really have that problem!”
Everything about the experience was a dream come true for the cast and crew, many of whom had long dreamed of becoming a part of the Star Wars universe. “My first day on set I was on a blurrg, so I was up on this big thing,” Carano said. “I was like, ‘OK, this is it! This is my life now.’” For Pascal, the first surreal moment arrived when he met with Favreau and Filoni and got to try on his helmet. “It fit perfectly… You can’t see very well through the helmet, but I got a pretty clear impression. If you grow up playing with Star Wars toys, and obviously seeing these movies, and then you’re staring at yourself and you are the image of that kind of childhood imagination, it’s a super pinch-me moment.”
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