Star Wars is one of Hollywood’s biggest movie franchises — and Jon Favreau’s upcoming live-action series The Mandalorian is poised to become a hit in its own right. The series for the upcoming Disney+ streaming service filled out its cast quickly, with Pedro Pascal as its lead actor, and will launch with Disney+ in November.
The latest updates include some striking new posters and some new intel on a major supporting character. Here’s everything we know about The Mandalorian so far.
At the D23 Expo in August 2019, Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that Ming-Na Wen, the actress best known as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Agent May, the voice of Disney’s Mulan, and Dr. Jing-Mei “Deb” Chen on 110 episodes of NBC’s medical drama ER, will be part of The Mandalorian‘s star-studded cast. According to Vanity Fair, she’ll play an assassin named Fennec Shand and will appear about halfway through The Mandalorian‘s first season.
In September, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Cold Pursuit actress Julia Jones was announced as part of the cast of The Mandalorian. Best known for her portrayal of Leah Clearwater in three installments of the Twilight franchise, Jones joins the series in an unspecified role, and it’s uncertain whether her character will be part of the first season — which concluded principal filming in February — or an addition to the second season’s cast.
Iger didn’t say who May’s character will be or if she’ll be part of the show’s first season (which has finished filming) or its second (which is currently in preproduction), but joining the Star Wars universe has been one of Wen’s dreams for a long time. “I don’t care, I could have a walk-on, just like passing Han Solo … That’s [on] my bucket list, to somehow get in one of those movies,” Wen told Access Hollywood in 2013. “[There’s] nothing better than having a lightsaber in your hand.” Wen will have all the time she needs to devote to The Mandalorian very soon, too: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s final season airs next summer.
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 also part of The Mandalorian‘s crew, and he’s 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.
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 (Warrior, The Prince of Tides) will play an unspecified role in the series.
Nolte joins Gina Carano, the former mixed martial arts fighter who made a successful leap to the screen in Deadpool, Fast 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.
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.
While die-hard Star Wars fans got their first look at The Mandalorian last April at Star Wars Celebration 2019, the footage wasn’t released to the public. Now, four months later, the rest of us get to see what the fuss is all about. The first trailer for The Mandalorian debuted at Disney’s D23 Expo in August 2019 and offers a very tense look at the dark and gritty Star Wars adventure.
Disney released a second trailer, showing a tiny bit more detail about the show’s actual plot, on October 28.
A collection of epic posters
The first, official poster for The Mandalorian was released Friday, August 23, by Disney in the lead-up to the company’s Disney+ presentation at its annual D23 Expo.
In later October, just before The Mandalorian‘s second trailer premiered, the official Star Wars Twitter account revealed five more posters, each one focusing on a specific member of The Mandalorian‘s cast. From IG-11 to the Mandalorian himself, the gang’s all there — including an Ugnaught who looks awfully similar to Nick Nolte.
Where (and when) to see it
The Mandalorian will debut on November 12, 2019, exclusively on Disney+, Disney’s new streaming service. As first reported by fan site What’s On Disney Plus, the second episode arrives the following Friday, November 15. From there, the remaining six episodes will drop every Friday until the end of December on Disney+. The one exception: Episode 7 will debut on Wednesday, December 18, leaving the weekend clear for everyone to see Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker.
Disney+ makes its North American debut on November 12 as well, bringing TV and movie fans all kinds of content centered on Star Wars, Marvel superheroes, classic Disney franchises, The Simpsons, and more. A Disney+ subscription will cost $7 a month, or $70 if you decide to sign up for an entire year.
Inspiration from a long time ago (but not so far away)
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, The Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau confirmed that George Lucas’ Star Wars movies are “the bedrock that [The Mandalorian] is built on,” but probably not the Star Wars movies that you’re thinking of. It’s the prequels, not the original trilogy, that made The Mandalorian possible. Unlike the Star Wars feature films, which shoot on a combination of sets and real-life locations, The Mandalorian is filmed using green screens, advanced computer graphics software, and even game engines to create its far-off worlds.
As Favreau explains, Lucas was “the first person that had digital photography, he was the first person to do completely CG characters. The whole notion of not having even a print [version of the film], of having everything be 0’s and 1’s, was all George.” Everything that The Mandalorian‘s crew is doing builds on the digital foundation that Lucas established. Of course, the Star Wars prequel trilogy’s special effects haven’t aged well, but Favreau isn’t worried. The Phantom Menace came out 20 years ago. Digital filmmaking has come a long way since then.
In terms of The Mandalorian‘s content, Favreau is going all the way back to 1977. Favreau didn’t just draw primarily on Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, the very first Star Wars movie, when creating The Mandalorian. He took most of his inspiration from the first third of the movie. “What was it like on Tatooine? What was going on in that cantina? That has fascinated me since I was a child,” Favreau says. “I love the idea of the darker, freakier side of Star Wars, the Mad Max aspect of Star Wars.” The Mandalorian will explore those aspects.
First photos, logo
During a panel for The Mandalorian at the Star Wars Celebration fan event, Disney debuted the show’s official logo and the first four photos from the series.
The photos feature Pascal as the show’s titular gunfighter, as well as Gina Carano as a character identified as Cara Dune and Carl Weathers as a character named Greef.
In a December 26 post on Instagram, Favreau revealed that an android bounty hunter who resembled The Empire Strikes Back‘s IG-88 will have a role in The Mandalorian — but don’t be fooled. Despite its look, this is a new character.
Like IG-88, The Mandalorian‘s IG-11 was built to handle security, assassinations, and all other kinds of nasty tasks. As io9 notes, Star Wars canon says that IG-88 and four of his counterparts eventually turned on their masters and went into the killing business for themselves, which is how IG-88 ended up as a bounty hunter in The Empire Strikes Back. While we don’t know much about IG-11 yet, The Mandalorian‘s Star Wars Celebration reel showed the droid mowing down a squadron of Stormtroopers, so the two droids have at least one thing in common: A penchant for violence.
IG-11 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-11’s voice, according to an Instagram post by Favreau. Waititi has experience in voice acting — he stole every scene he was in as Thor’s rocky companion Korg in Ragnarok — and it should be fun to see what he does with this character. 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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 Thrones, The Crown, and Star Trek: Discovery.
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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.
Updated on November 4, 2019: Added details about Ming-Na Wen’s character.
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