By Jim Frye
The hotly anticipated new live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian blasted off this week with the launch of Disney+, the marquee new streaming service bringing together all the worlds of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. Sitting in the pilot seat of this new series is Disney Legend and boffo Star Wars fan Jon Favreau, who most recently directed Disney’s The Jungle Book and The Lion King. Here, Favreau talks exclusively with D23 about this epic new series from Lucasfilm and the inspiration behind it.
D23: When and where did you get the idea for The Mandalorian?
Jon Favreau: It goes back as far back as 2012, when it was announced that Disney was going to be making other films in the Star Wars universe when Lucasfilm became part of Disney. I watched all the Star Wars movies again, and I was writing down notes about the type of story I would like to tell. After that, I did Jungle Book while Episode Seven [Star Wars: The Force Awakens] was being filmed. I visited the set [of Episode Seven] that [director] J.J. Abrams was filming—that was very fun and exciting to see that world come to life and to be on that set. And then Disney announced the streaming service [Disney+], and it seemed that that was the right size and scale for the type of story I wanted to tell.
D23: Specifically, what type of story is it that you want to tell?
JF: A story that is evocative of the genres that really inspired George Lucas when he was doing the original Star Wars film, which were the Western and Samurai films. And both of those genres are set against a backdrop of living on the edge of chaos and the outer boundaries of civilization.
D23: Will viewers see anything new with The Mandalorian?
JF: We invented a whole new set of characters and new planets that we hadn’t seen before. The Empire falls at the end of Return of the Jedi, and by the time you’re in Episode Seven, the First Order has come back. So, there was this 30-year period of uncertainty that is fresh now.
D23: How did you end up choosing this particular character to build a series around?
JF: I have always loved the Mandalorians. I even did the voiceover of a Mandalorian on [executive producer] Dave Filoni’s show Star Wars: The Clone Wars. And he and I partnered up on this project after I had pitched my story to Kathy [Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy]. It’s basically the story of a lone gunfighter—the Mandalorian—a bounty hunter working his way through this new world.
D23: How much does The Mandalorian touch the world of the Star Wars films?
JF: Occasionally we interconnect, and it does graft into the continuity of Star Wars. There are Easter eggs for people who are beyond just the casual fan, so the more you know Star Wars, the more you’re going to see in it. But we’re just having a really fun time with the freedom of not having to continue any stories or worrying about what we’re setting up. We’re just trying to have fun telling the story and make it fun for the fans.