The Mandalorian: What we know about Jon Favreau’s live-action Star Wars series

The Mandalorian snags Taika Waititi as the voice of a classic Star Wars villain

Star Wars is one of Hollywood’s biggest movie franchises, and now Jon Favreau’s upcoming live-action series The Mandalorian is poised to become a streaming hit in its own right. The series for the Disney+ streaming service has been filling out its cast quickly, including officially naming its lead actor, Pedro Pascal. The latest cast additions include a familiar bounty hunter (who will be voiced by a very fan-friendly actor) and a droid from the original trilogy, as well as a Breaking Bad villain, a famous Rocky foe, and one of the most critically acclaimed filmmakers of all time.

Here’s everything we know about The Mandalorian so far.

Returning characters

At least one bounty hunter from Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back has been confirmed to appear in The Mandalorian, but it’s not the one most fans would expect (given the series’ focus).

In a December 26 post on Instagram, Favreau revealed that android bounty hunter IG-88 will have a role in The Mandalorian.

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Merry Christmas!

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A rogue, IG-series assassin droid, IG-88 was one of several bounty hunters summoned by Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back and tasked with locating the Millennium Falcon and its passengers. The character only played a brief role in the original trilogy, but developed a following after being featured in various spin-off stories in Star Wars comics, animated series, and other media.

IG-88 comes with a healthy dose of fan service attached, too. Filmmaker Taika Waititi, who directed What We Do in the Shadows and Thor: Ragnarok, will provide IG-88’s voice, according to an Instagram post by Favreau. Waititi has experience voice acting — he stole every scene he was in as Thor’s rocky companion Korg in Ragnorok — and it should be fun to see what he does with the classic Star Wars foe. Waititi will also direct at least one episode of the series.

In January, Favreau posted a photo on Instagram indicating that a droid that hasn’t been seen since the first installment of the franchise will be making an appearance in The Mandalorian.

For those who might not be caught up on their Star Wars droids, that’s R5-D4 — the astromech that Luke Skywalker and Owen Lars almost purchased from a group of Jawas before a malfunction pushed them to buy R2-D2 instead. The rest is Star Wars saga history, of course.

After making his debut in Episode IV – A New Hope, R5-D4 was a character in various spinoff stories over the years, with some suggesting that he willingly sacrificed his freedom in order to send R2-D2 on the path to Skywalker. What became of R5-D4 in the years that followed the rebellion is somewhat unknown, but will likely be explored in The Mandalorian to some degree.

The cast

In December, Lucasfilm revealed The Mandalorian‘s primary cast, which includes a handful of big names, including Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) as the Mandalorian himself. Giancarlo Esposito (below), aka drug kingpin Gus Fring on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, is the latest to join The Mandalorian‘s crew, accompanied by Supernatural‘s Emily Swallow, veteran character actor Carl Weathers (aka Rocky‘s Apollo Creed), and American Gods guest star Omid Abtahi. Werner Herzog, the 76-year-old director responsible for Grizzly Man and many other critical darlings, will also play a part.

Giancarlo Esposito

Those aren’t the only familiar faces coming to a galaxy far, far away, either. In late November, Deadline brought news that three-time Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte (WarriorThe Prince of Tides) will play an unspecified role in the series.

epix nolte graves
Featureflash/Shutterstock

Nolte joins Gina Carano, the former mixed martial arts fighter who made a successful leap to the screen in DeadpoolFast and Furious 6, and Haywire, who is also joining the series in a featured role. According to The Hollywood Reporter, details regarding her character in the show are still unknown.

mma fighter turned action star gina carano has game 1

Just a few days before Carano joined The Mandalorian, Pedro Pascal was cast in the series, confirming earlier rumors that he was one of several actors being considered for the show. Pascal has been officially cast in the show’s title role.

Best known for playing Prince Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones and Javier Peña in the Netflix series Narcos, Pascal also played supporting roles in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, The Equalizer 2, and The Great Wall. He’ll also appear in the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984, in addition to the Netflix action film Triple Frontier.

Filming

On October 19, Favreau posted a photo of himself with Star Wars creator George Lucas on the set of The Mandalorian, which appears to be rolling along in its production quite smoothly these days.

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Birthday Surprise

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The photo was taken on Favreau’s birthday, making the visit from Lucas one heck of a gift, given Favreau’s well-documented love for the sci-fi saga.

A few weeks earlier, Favreau posted another image from The Mandalorian on Instagram, and it featured a full look at the rifle the series’ title character will wield in the show.

Star Wars fans were quick to point out that the rifle looks similar to the one carried by Boba Fett in the much-maligned (and justifiably so) 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, which first introduced the popular bounty hunter to the sci-fi saga’s universe.

That particular rifle was later identified as an “Amban phase-pulse blaster” in the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game, according to fan site Making Star Wars, which took a deep dive into the weapon’s background in the franchise.

First look

The very first image from The Mandalorian was revealed on StarWars.com on October 4 and was accompanied by a list of directors who will helm various episodes of the series.

future star wars tv shows and movies the mandalorian

The list of filmmakers includes Waititi, Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), and Bryce Dallas Howard (Solemates), with veteran Star Wars director Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels) directing the first episode of the show.

The story

Favreau revealed the title and first details about the series on Instagram, posting a block of text in the iconic yellow-on-black format that traditionally introduces each chapter of the Star Wars saga.

Titled The Mandalorian, the series is expected to be set seven years after the Battle of Endor in Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi and feature characters new to the Star Wars universe, many of them created via CGI and motion-capture technology similar to what Favreau used in his live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book for Disney.

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“After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe,” reads the synopsis posted by Favreau. “The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic …”

The biggest show ever?

In August, it was reported that the series will have a budget of approximately $100 million for its first 10-episode season, according to The New York Times. That number puts it on par with some of the most expensive series made in recent years, including Game of ThronesThe Crown, and Star Trek: Discovery.

Last year, HBO made headlines with the news that the final season of Game of Thrones could cost the network more than $15 million for each of the six episodes that will conclude the hit show’s run (for a total budget of approximately $90 million). Also raising the bar was Star Trek: Discovery, which reportedly cost CBS between $8 million and $8.5 million an episode for its first, 15-episode season, bringing its total budget to more than $120 million.

Possibly the highest series budget of all time, however, is the $1 billion Amazon Studios is reportedly paying for five seasons of an upcoming series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga.

Where (and when) to see it

Favreau is an executive producer on the Star Wars series and penned the script for it. The series will debut on Disney’s direct-to-consumer streaming video service scheduled to launch in late 2019, but it’s uncertain exactly when it will premiere.

The live-action Star Wars series was first announced in November 2017 and is one of several projects set within that sci-fi universe currently in various stages of development or production by Disney. The studio is also in the midst of shifting many of its existing projects toward its streaming platform, with big-screen releases moving to the platform after their theatrical runs, and various shows expected to move to the platform or debut there in the future.

Updated on March 22, 2019: Added confirmation that Taiki Waititi will voice IG-88.

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