Star Wars Celebration: 'The Mandalorian' moseys onto Disney+ with Western vibes

Brian Truitt

CHICAGO - As the first "Star Wars" live-action series, "The Mandalorian" is leaning into the Western and samurai influences that first inspired George Lucas in creating the galaxy far, far away.

A panel at Star Wars Celebration introduced the first footage of the show, which stars Pedro Pascal as a galactic bounty hunter named the Mandalorian who operates in the underworld and takes an important job from an enigmatic new client (Werner Herzog). The series premieres on the Disney+ streaming service when it launches Nov. 12.

"The Mandalorian" is set five years after the Rebellion took down the Empire in "Return of the Jedi," at a time where only vestiges of the Empire remain, only the strong are surviving and chaos is taking over.

The title gunfighter (Pedro Pascal) finds himself in a bad way in "The Mandalorian," the first "Star Wars" live-action series.

"If you look throughout history, (the fall of an empire) is fun at first but it gets very complicated quickly," says writer/executive producer Jon Favreau, who developed the series with director/executive producer Dave Filoni. Favreau adds that they were influenced by the "scum and villainy" of the Mos Eisley Cantina scene from the original "Star Wars" film as well as post-Civil War and Old West eras "where order had to be brought to the universe."

Wearing similar armor to the iconic Boba Fett, who was also a warrior from the planet Mandalore, Pascal's character is a mysterious, lone gunfighter who flies his gunship Razorcrest across the outer reaches of the galaxy. 

"He's got a lot of Clint Eastwood in him," says Pascal, who watched Sergio Leone and Akira Kurosawa movies for preparation. "Some might say he has questionable moral character, which is in line with some of our best Westerns and some good samurai (films)."

Gina Carano stars as an ex-Rebel shock trooper named Cara Dune in "The Mandalorian."

Former mixed martial artist Gina Carano co-stars as Cara Dune, an ex-Rebel shock trooper. "I'm a bit of a loner, which isn't a far stretch, and I'm having a hard time reintegrating myself into society." Carano also does her own stunts, which impressed Favreau when she had to carry around a dude in one scene. "I've been doing my squats, so I'm good," she says with a laugh.

Carl Weathers plays Greef, who runs a guild of bounty hunters and is the man who sets the Mandalorian up with his latest important assignment. "He figures Mando can get the job done," Weathers says, "and the Mando does what needs to be done."

Greef (Carl Weathers) heads a up a guild of galactic bounty hunters in "The Mandalorian."

The supporting cast also includes Giancarlo Esposito ("Breaking Bad"), who was seen in the footage playing an Imperial character who leads a group of Death Troopers and flies a TIE fighter.

Directors for episodes of "The Mandalorian" include actress Bryce Dallas Howard, Deborah Chow ("Jessica Jones"), Rick Famuyiwa ("Dope") and Taika Waititi ("Thor: Ragnarok"), and the only prerequisite was they "had to be a fan of 'Star Wars,' " Favreau says.

A bunch of new characters are being added to lore, he adds, but "for those who've been fans for 40 years, there's a lot in there for you."

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