'The Mandalorian' star Pedro Pascal joined 'Star Wars' fandom as a toddler (even the undies)

Bill Keveney
"The Mandalorian" is a new Disney+ "Star Wars" series that follows the adventures of the title character, a mysterious bounty hunter played by Pedro Pascal.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – Pedro Pascal has been training for service in the "Star Wars" universe since childhood, even if he didn't know it at the time.

Pascal, who plays the title character in "The Mandalorian," along with co-stars Gina Carano and Carl Weathers, is proud to join the "Star Wars" franchise on the Disney+ streaming series (new episodes each Friday), but Pascal's roots go deepest.

The Chilean-born actor, 44, who plays a mysterious, helmeted bounty hunter, was just 2 when "Star Wars: A New Hope" – then just "Star Wars" – hit the big screen in 1977, changing movies, fandom and entertainment culture forever. He wears his devotion as a badge of honor.

"I keep on trying to own this over everyone, which is sort of hilarious and delusional because it was just my whole childhood. So much of (it) was owned by 'Star Wars' movies and merchandise, from the underwear to bedsheets to all the toys and everything," he says.

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'The Mandalorian' star Pedro Pascal, left, speaks at a premiere screening in Los Angeles, as co-stars Carl Weathers and Gina Carano listen. Bryce Dallas Howard, who directs an episode of the Disney+ 'Star Wars' series, sits behind them.

For that reason, he's quite familiar with one of the inspirations for the Mandalorian: bounty hunter Boba Fett, a hugely popular "Star Wars" character who first appeared in 1978's infamous "Star Wars Holiday Special" and made his film debut in 1980's "The Empire Strikes Back."

"His toy was huge. It was really successful," Pascal says.

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Carano, who plays former Rebel shock trooper Cara Dune, always liked the films but has a new appreciation for the franchise through her involvement with the first live-action "Star Wars" TV series.

"I feel like I understand what a real 'Star Wars' fan is now. I walked away enjoying the movies, but when you get the job and go back through the movies and start researching, you understand how big this is," she says. "I'm a born-again fan because I feel like I've just learned how to be a fan of 'Star Wars,' knowing what it is now."

As for favorite "Star Wars" films, Pascal chooses "Empire," considered the best of the space saga films by many, and a "choice (that) is kind of obvious."

Weathers, who was immersed in the "Rocky" story when "Star Wars" premiered, picks the first film, recalling the fabled cantina scene that gets a tribute in "The Mandalorian."

"I still harken back to that one scene … with its very interesting characters. Growing up the way I did in New Orleans, there was something that resonated in such a real way," he says. "There were so many weird characters in that whole place. Why do you single that one out? Interesting."

Baby Yoda shows off his big, cute eyes on "The Mandalorian."

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Pascal fondly recalls going to the "Star Wars" movies with his family as a child and says that tradition continues today. "My sister has two boys. They're 12 and 13," he says. "We have gone and seen all the new movies."

Now, there's also a "Star Wars" TV show they can enjoy – with an even stronger family connection.