The Mandalorian TV Series Overview


Introduction

The Mandalorian, also known as Star Wars: The Mandalorian, is an American space Western web television series created by Jon Favreau and released on Disney+.

It is the first live action series in the Star Wars franchise.

Outline

Set five years after the events of Return of the Jedi and 25 years prior to the events of The Force Awakens, it follows the title character, a Mandalorian bounty hunter named Din Djarin, and his exploits beyond the reaches of the New Republic.

Production

Background

A live-action Star Wars TV series entered production in early 2009, with over 50 scripts written by 2012, but they were deemed too expensive to produce due to their complex content. Its title was to have been Star Wars: Underworld. In January 2013, following the 30 October 2012 sale of Lucasfilm to The Walt Disney Company, ABC television network president Paul Lee spoke to the current status of the series commenting that “We’d love to do something with Lucasfilm, we’re not sure what yet. We haven’t even sat down with them. We’re going to look at [the live-action series], we’re going to look at all of them, and see what’s right. We weren’t able to discuss this with them until [the acquisition] closed and it just closed. It’s definitely going to be part of the conversation.” In June 2014, more details regarding the series were revealed, including that Boba Fett would have appeared.

Development

In 2019, Jon Favreau revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that he had first pitched the idea for what became The Mandalorian to Kennedy during the summer of 2017, while directing the photorealistic remake of The Lion King for Walt Disney Pictures. Kennedy put Favreau in touch with Dave Filoni, and when the two men met, Filoni began to draw doodles on napkins of what would become The Child. After each day of work on The Lion King’s virtual reality set in Playa Vista, Favreau would then stay late and work a few more hours developing his secret television project for Lucasfilm.

On 09 November 2017, Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Bob Iger, while on a quarterly earnings call with investors, announced that Disney and Lucasfilm were developing a new live-action Star Wars television series for Disney’s then-unnamed upcoming streaming service. On 06 February 2018, it was reported that Iger had revealed during another financial report conference call with investors that multiple Star Wars live-action series were actually in development by Disney saying, “We are developing not just one, but a few Star Wars series specifically for the Disney direct-to-consumer app. We’ve mentioned that and we are close to being able to reveal at least one of the entities that is developing that for us. Because the deal isn’t completely closed, we can’t be specific about that. I think you’ll find the level of talent … on the television front will be rather significant as well.”

On 08 March 2018, Lucasfilm announced that Favreau was the writer and executive producer of the forthcoming series. In May 2018, Favreau stated that half of the scripts for the first season had been completed. On 03 October Favreau announced that the series had been titled The Mandalorian and revealed the show’s central premise. The following day, it was revealed that additional executive producers would include Dave Filoni, Kathleen Kennedy, and Colin Wilson with Karen Gilchrist acting as a co-executive producer. Filoni was also expected to direct the series’ first episode with additional directors including Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa, and Deborah Chow. The first season cost $100 million to make.

On 12 July 2019, during a press conference for The Lion King remake, Favreau revealed that he had written scripts for the second season and that pre-production was underway. Favreau plans to direct an episode of the second season, and stated that he was too busy with the production of The Lion King to direct any of the series’ first season. By the end of April 2020, Favreau had been working on season three “for a while”, along with additional pre-production work also underway.

Filming

Principal photography for the first season began during the first week of October 2018 in Southern California, under the working title Huckleberry. On 19 October, George Lucas visited the set of the series as a birthday surprise for Favreau; it was later revealed that Lucas had some level of involvement in creating the show. On 25 October, it was reported that police were investigating the grand theft of several unspecified items from The Mandalorian’s set at the Manhattan Beach Studios campus in Manhattan Beach, California. Filming for the first season wrapped on 27 February 2019.

According to Favreau, the first season was filmed on a large soundstage with a 360-degree video wall at Manhattan Beach Studios, supplemented by limited location shooting around Southern California. It was later revealed that the video wall was actually built to form a 270-degree “volume”, with optional panels that could be dropped in when needed for 360-degree coverage. The show sent camera crews to shoot distant locations like Iceland and Chile, the resulting digital assets were integrated into virtual sets built with the Unreal game engine from Epic Games, and those sets were displayed on the video wall. In Favreau’s words: “So, there is real photography being incorporated, but the actors aren’t brought on location. The location is brought to the actors.”

What made the series’ virtual sets appear so immersive (as opposed to flat images on a video wall) was the ability of the Unreal engine to accurately simulate parallax in real time based on where the camera was currently pointed. To do that, small motion capture cameras were mounted on top of the video wall to watch infrared markers on the main camera (and in turn, the motion capture cameras had be digitally removed in post-production). Once the Unreal engine knew the exact location and angle of the camera, it could update parallax within a small patch of the video wall currently visible to the camera.

Dave Filoni, who is mostly renowned for his work on other Star Wars projects, and Bryce Dallas Howard were given individual freedom on directing their episodes, which was surprising to Howard’s father Ron Howard, who directed Solo: A Star Wars Story. When Pascal would become unavailable for filming, the Mandalorian would occasionally be portrayed physically by stunt actors Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder with Wayne having worked closely with Pascal to develop the character.

Filming for the second season started in mid-October 2019, and concluded on 08 March 2020. Sam Hargrave was hired as the second unit director for the second season. He said Favreau was “looking for someone… who has experience with action” and that “they wanted to build on” what was done in season one, while bringing in “a new perspective and [taking] it to another level” for season two.

Visual Effects

Visual effects studio Industrial Light & Magic, a subsidiary of Lucasfilm, opened a new division in November 2018 targeted for streaming and episodic television called ILM TV. Based in London with support from the company’s locations in San Francisco, Vancouver, and Singapore, it is expected that the new division will work extensively on live-action Star Wars television series, starting with The Mandalorian.

Unreal Engine 4, a game engine developed by Epic Games, is used to create the digital backgrounds. It makes the rendering of the visual effects faster than would normally be possible for a live-action series, and Favreau said the technology can be applied to a variety of challenges. So rather than using sketches on a whiteboard to map out scenes, the storyboarding was done on the game engine. However, only about 50% of the shots were actually rendered through Unreal and captured in-camera. The other 50% were created through ILM’s traditional visual effects pipeline and rendered with V-Ray. Image Engine also created visual effects for the series, particularly in “Chapter 3: The Sin” and “Chapter 6: The Prisoner“.

Music

On 19 December 2018, it was announced that Ludwig Göransson would compose the musical score for the series. Each chapter has its own soundtrack album, released the same day. For the score, Göransson played many of the key instruments himself, and then added a 70-piece orchestra. He wrote four hours of music for the eight episodes. Göransson will also be writing the music for the second season of the show.

Cast

  • Starring:
    • Pedro Pascal as Din Djarin/The Mandalorian:
      • A lone gunfighter and bounty hunter who is sometimes referred to as “Mando” (a generic term used to refer to all Mandalorians, a clan of skilled warriors).
      • He is a “foundling” who was rescued at a young age by Mandalorians during the Clone Wars.
      • Pascal has described his character as Clint Eastwood-esque with advanced combat skills and of “questionable moral character”.
    • “The Child” (performed by various puppeteers):
      • A member of the same unnamed species as the powerful Jedi master Yoda with similar Force abilities.
      • The Child is a toddler at age 50.
      • A bounty is offered for his return by “The Client”.
      • He is found and protected by the Mandalorian while being targeted by other bounty hunters.
  • Co-starring (The following actors received co-starring billing in the main end credits of the episodes they appeared in):
    • Carl Weathers as Greef Karga, an ex-magistrate and leader of a bounty hunter guild who hires the Mandalorian to track a valuable asset.
    • Werner Herzog as “The Client”, an unnamed man with Stormtrooper bodyguards who arranges for the Mandalorian to track a valuable asset.
    • Omid Abtahi as Dr. Pershing, a scientist working for “the Client”.
    • Nick Nolte as the voice of Kuiil, an Ugnaught moisture farmer who bought his freedom after being enslaved by the Empire. Misty Rosas provided the motion capture performance of Kuiil.
    • Taika Waititi as the voice of IG-11, a bounty-hunting droid who processes conversations in a precise and literal manner. After attempting to kill “the Child” as its bounty, and being stopped by Djarin, IG-11 is re-programmed by Kuiil to protect the toddler.
    • Gina Carano as Cara Dune, a former rebel shock trooper-turned-mercenary from the now destroyed planet of Alderaan who fought in the Galactic Civil War for the Rebel Alliance/New Republic.
    • Amy Sedaris as Peli Motto, a cantankerous docking bay attendant and ship mechanic on Tatooine.
    • Jake Cannavale as Toro Calican, a fledgling bounty hunter looking to join the bounty hunters’ guild by capturing Fennec Shand. He hires the Mandalorian to help.
    • Ming-Na Wen as Fennec Shand, an assassin who crosses paths with the Mandalorian.
    • Mark Boone Junior as Ranzar “Ran” Malk, an aging mercenary and leader of a motley crew looking to free a prisoner on a New Republic ship. Malk is a former associate of the Mandalorian from before he joined the guild.
    • Bill Burr as Mayfeld, a former Imperial sharpshooter and the point man on Malk’s crew.
    • Natalia Tena as Xi’an, a Twi’lek member of Malk’s crew and knife master, who claims to be Djarin’s former love interest.
    • Clancy Brown as Burg, a large Devaronian member of Malk’s crew who serves as the muscle of the team.
    • Richard Ayoade as the voice of Q9-0, also known as “Zero”, a droid member of Malk’s crew.
    • Ismael Cruz Córdova as Qin, a Twi’lek and Xi’an’s brother. He has a combative past with the Mandalorian.
    • Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon, a former officer of the Imperial Security Bureau, the Galactic Empire’s secret police, whose life changed after the Rebel Alliance destroyed the second Death Star.
    • Emily Swallow as The Armourer, a Mandalorian woman who forges armour and equipment from Beskar steel, and enforces tradition among the surviving Mandalorians.
  • Guests (Season 01):
    • Julia Jones as Omera, a widowed farmer on Sorgan who provides lodging for the Mandalorian during his stay on the planet.
    • Isla Farris as Winta, Omera’s daughter who bonds with the Child during his stay on the planet.
    • Asif Ali as Caben, a farmer on Sorgan who, with his friend Stoke, asks the Mandalorian to protect his village against the attacks of Klatooinian raiders.
    • Eugene Cordero as Stoke, a farmer on Sorgan.
    • Rio Hackford as Riot Mar, a bounty hunter who engages the Mandalorian in a dogfight.
    • Matt Lanter as Davan, a New Republic soldier. Lanter had previously voiced Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.
    • Dave Filoni as Trapper Wolf, a New Republic X-wing pilot.
    • Rick Famuyiwa as Jib Dodger, a New Republic X-wing pilot.
    • Deborah Chow as Sash Ketter, a New Republic X-wing pilot.

Horatio Sanz played a Mythrol bounty, and Brian Posehn played a speeder pilot in “Chapter 1: The Mandalorian”. Series creator Jon Favreau voiced Paz Vizla, an infantry Mandalorian featured in “Chapter 3: The Sin”, physically played by stunt double Tait Fletcher. Adam Pally and Jason Sudeikis played two bike scout troopers in “Chapter 8: Redemption”. Mark Hamill who plays Luke Skywalker in the original and sequel trilogy films has a voice cameo as the bartender droid EV-9D9 in “Chapter 5: The Gunslinger”. Additionally, members of the 501st Legion fan organisation were used as stormtrooper extras.

  • Guests (Season 02):
    • Michael Biehn as a bounty hunter.
    • Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano, the former Jedi Padawan of Anakin Skywalker turned spymaster for the Rebel Alliance.
    • Temuera Morrison as Boba Fett, a notorious bounty hunter utilising Mandalorian equipment who seemingly died in Return of the Jedi. Morrison previously voiced the character in various Star Wars media.
    • Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan Kryze, the former ruler of Mandalore and leader of a Mandalorian group called the Nite Owls. Sackhoff reprises the role from the animated series The Clone Wars and Rebels.
    • Timothy Olyphant as Cobb Vanth, a former slave who acquired Boba Fett’s Mandalorian armour. The character was previously featured in the Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy of novels.

Trivia

  • After the first season’s conclusion, an eight-episode behind the scenes series was released starting May 2020, titled Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian.
  • In November 2019, Walt Disney Studios chief creative officer Alan Horn stated that, if the series is successful, a film featuring the character could be developed.
  • On 05 December 2019, when asked if characters from the series will appear in future Star Wars productions, Favreau said that “There’s definitely the opportunity to explore these characters beyond what has been presented on the show”, and that “There’s a very fluid line between what’s in the movie theatres and what’s on the screen at home”.
  • In February 2020, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that spin-offs of The Mandalorian are being considered, stating that there is “the possibility of infusing [the series] with more characters and taking those characters in their own direction in terms of series”.
  • In June 2020, Lucasfilm announced a publishing campaign of tie-in books and comics.
    • This includes an Art of book for the show’s first season, written by Phil Szostak and published by Abrams Books set for 15 December 2020, as well as an original adult novel, written under the codename Sparrow, by Adam Christopher and published by Del Rey Books, set for 01 December 2020.
    • The publishing line also includes comic books from Marvel Comics and IDW, a visual guide by Pablo Hidalgo, and a junior novelisation by Joe Schreiber.

The Mandalorian Series

  • Series 01 (2019).
  • Series 02 (2020).
  • Series 03: (?2021, although rumoured to be 2022 (sad face)).

In April 2020, pre-production work on the third season had begun.

Production & Filming Details

  • Creator(s): Jon Favreau.
  • Director(s): Dave Filoni, Rick Famuyiwa, Deborah Chow, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Taika Waititi.
  • Producer(s): Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Kathleen Kennedy, and Colin Wilson.
  • Writer(s): Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Rick Famuyiwa, and Christopher Yost.
  • Music: Ludwig Goransson.
  • Cinematography: Greig Fraser and Barry Idione.
  • Editor(s): Jeff Seibenick, Andrew S. Eisen, and Dana E. Glauberman.
  • Production: Lucasfilm, Fairview Entertainment, and Golem Creations.
  • Distributor(s): Disney Media Distribution.
  • Release Date: 12 November 2019 to Present.
  • Running Time: 31-46 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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