It’s the most-talked about show of the year - or at least, the most cooed over.
Not only has Disney +’s The Mandalorian birthed into the world Baby Yoda (or, as he’s officially known, The Child), but it introduced us to the first ever live action Star Wars series, and an enigmatic new Star Wars hero: The Mandalorian.
Played by Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones, Narcos), our hero is a never-unmasked lone gunslinger; a stoic bounty hunter who finds himself on the run across the galaxy with a mysterious, out-of-this-world cute package: a fifty-year-old infant known as The Child.
The space western, created by Jon Favreau, has received great acclaim, including an impressive 95% Rotten Tomatoes score, multiple visual effects awards, a Death Star’s shipment worth of merchandise, and has spawned an entire making-of documentary series, Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, which is airing new episodes weekly on Disney+.
With Season 1 available to watch in full on Disney+ right now, and a second season set to be released in October 2020, we assumed that, as die-hard Baby Yoda super fans, we knew everything about the tiny icon’s first adventure in the Star Wars universe. Turns out, there are some details which were kept as secret as what lies beneath a Mandalorian’s helmet. We spoke to Pedro Pascal, as he gave us a peek behind the mask to unveil five things you didn’t know about the making of The Mandalorian…
1. The cast had to be extremely careful with The Child on set
“Carrying Baby Yoda is like carrying the crown around that set, except that it makes everybody go googoogaga. There are so many different elements that go into it. You have to be especially careful with the props: There have been sizable props and that have definitely contributed to me losing my balance. For me, it's not so much breaking a prop but accidentally walking into walls and falling into holes, because I have no peripheral vision and the width of all of the added armor takes up more room that I'm used to. It can be a funny sight.”
“They fit the costume so perfectly, and it tells as much of a story as the actor in it. You stand still and without much effort, you look cooler than anything you've ever seen before. That’s all the work of the costume and art designers.”
2. Part of the script Pedro Pascal had never seen before in a show
“It's very strange, because I remember the thing that I found surprising, when I was given the scripts for the first season, is that one was 19 pages, and then another one was close to 40 pages. All of the dramatic structure, that was apparent in the scenes… and the length! The one that was 19 pages was a 22 minute episode. I'd never seen that in a television series before. It had such an unpredictable and organic structure. It was all in there. I'm so much a passenger to the experience, because there are so many major technical things that are involved in creating this whole show; I never had done anything that looked so close to what I had read. I think that probably if you were to ask the visual effects department, they would tell you that whole entire things from the original script are missing, and I wouldn't even I wouldn't know. Now that I’ve said that, I hope they don't release a mixture of deleted scenes full of major swaths.”
3. Jon Favreau had one important question for Pedro Pascal when they first met
“When I met Jon for the first time, the very first question that he asked me was, “Are you a Star Wars fan?” I told him that I didn't really have a choice - I was born in 1975! The first movie came out when I was very young. The culture of it was just so much a part of my childhood; it shaped exactly what sci-fi cinema is to that whole generation. So, to actually be placed in a world that lived so powerfully in your childhood’s imagination was very surreal. It's hard to describe. By looking into the mirror, or stepping onto one of those sets, it's sort of like when you're a kid and you go to an amusement park for the first time, and all of a sudden, it seems like there aren't really limits to the adventures that you can go on. It was weird as an aging 40-something actor to feel like a seven-year-old again, by stepping onto that set or putting on that costume. It was a very strange feeling.”
4. Pedro Pascal was influenced by one classic character
“Basically, it forced me to rely on my roots in theater training more than any other job has, because you're thinking so much more about how to tell a story with a simple gesture, or a movement, or a head tilt and, at least for me, even more than that, the kind of voice that is supposed to exist under the mask. Also, you can't see very well through it, so it activates a lot of different things. The very first conversations, in terms of what everything that Jon and Dave Filoni [director] shared with me in terms of what to study were the spaghetti westerns by Sergio Leone. The Mandalorian character is very specifically based on The Man With No Name in those movies. God, it was heaven to be able to watch all those movies again.”
5. For one of the episodes, you are looking at a stunt man in the Mandalorian suit rather than our lead
“There are basically four people that are in the suit. There's such an incredible way that they collaborated with Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni - [Mando actors] Brendon, Lateef, Barry, and me. It was a very improvised attack. Very early on, it was important to establish a physical posture, and a language of stillness, and grow from there. There were dramatic scenes, where that one gesture or one head movement would be as important as any kind of dialogue. I was a bit of a stickler about those kinds of things. And then of course, the things that this old body could not handle, others did. So it was really an invented collaboration that we're still fine-tuning.”
6. Pedro Pascal’s secret favourite background player to look out for - you might not notice them at first
“Something that I became incredibly aware of was the amount of work that goes into all of our background players. They work as hard as everyone that is central to the frame of the camera. You've got these people from morning to night in these incredible costumes, and moving, and creating this entire background. Those people, and the art departments, all of them that are there, they're the real stars of the show. I can only truly speak on behalf of everyone else in the entire background, like in every single little detail that you see, out of focus, while you're watching a scene - it's hard to even comprehend the amount of detail and the amount of work that goes into all of the players that are creating the village, or filling up the bar, or in all of the Stormtrooper outfits. It's a big deal.”
“My favourite one of those details? I get scared in case I say anything and I misstep - there's absolutely nothing that I want to reveal. But there was definitely this one character that's a full-size puppet. That was one of my best team partners… and you'll see him coming!”
The Mandalorian is available to watch in full on Disney+ now. New episodes of eight-part behind-the-scenes documentary ‘Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian’ drop every Friday on Disney+.
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