By Josh Reilly B. & George Bate
In November 2019, the very first television series set in a galaxy far, far away was released. What was advertised as a bounty hunter show centered on a Mandalorian reminiscent of Boba Fett ended up being vastly different, particularly with the arrival of Baby Yoda, aka Grogu. The Mandalorian is at the center of the Star Wars galaxy at the moment, telling the pivotal story of what happened to the galaxy and some of the main heroes in the years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
At the center of The Mandalorian is, of course, Pedro Pascal. The internet’s current favorite celebrity has become a huge star ever since the premiere of the series, and has since gone on to play Joel Miller in The Last of Us to critical acclaim. There are, however, two other names that play a central role in the creation of the character of Din Djarin. Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder combine to play the hero for the majority of his on screen appearances and have worked tirelessly to create the character’s classic movement, body language, and personality.
The HoloFiles had the opportunity to interview Brendan Wayne, who is now credited as a series regular in Season 3, to discuss his already iconic role and his career so far. Wayne has a massive creative influence on Din Djarin as a character, something that is understandable given how much he is in the suit (although Wayne himself states that no one is really sure who is underneath the helmet and that it doesn’t matter). As he puts it, Wayne executes some of the ideas of Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni through the body of the character. Wayne says that “Jon [Favreau] and Dave [Filoni really honed in me was that simplicity of [the Mandalorian]. I look through my nose so where my nose points is where I look. Then, if somebody is [to the side], I go turn. And then we’re dealing with the camera. So if I turn too far, it’s too far.”
Having taken a dance class in school, Wayne credits this experience as hugely beneficial to his role as the Mandalorian. “It was like a movement class,” Wayne said. “Understanding the subtlety, understanding why we have steps in the Salsa things like that.” To prep for the movement of the role, Wayne says that he studied Kabuki and wore the famous mask associated with the classic form of Japanese theater. “The audience can’t see anything. Every movement means something. Every movement has to be a kill move, and it has to have a certain structure.”
The Mandalorian takes a lot of inspiration from the movies that directly influenced George Lucas to create a galaxy far, far away, particularly old western stories. Star Wars is, in many ways, a space western, with Han Solo appearing in A New Hope in the cowboy role. Wayne says that he channeled the cowboys of old in the personality of Mando, in that “if you put your hand on the pommel of that gun, you gotta pull it. You’re not threatening like these guns. They don’t threaten. They say and they give you the time. And if you don’t do whatever it is they’re asking, boom.” Wayne touches on a core reason why fans have taken to this character so much ever since he first arrived on screen, with Djarin being a very capable fighter/warrior but still with his heart shining through.
Speaking of Mando’s first appearance, Wayne referenced Djarin’s debut scene in Chapter 1 of the series, recalling the moment where Mando was taunted by a group of rowdy locals. “Somebody slams my glass down in the bar, so I do those certain movements to convey that [Mando] is startled. But in the helmet, to convey that, there’s something extra to it.” Clearly, Wayne has done an immense amount of thinking and research in order to nail down this character, and this work certainly shows on screen.
The Wayne name is probably one that most readers are familiar with. One of the biggest movie stars of all time, John Wayne, was the grandfather of Brendan, who says that he remembers him as this kind of bigger than life goofball, an ‘I could just stand here and stare at you and make you melt guy.’ In many ways, it feels poetic that the grandson of John Wayne has come into the Star Wars galaxy, so heavily inspired by Wayne’s work.
As stated, Wayne is now credited as a series regular in every episode of the show, a huge development that goes to show just how important he his to this series and the character. Wayne said that his credit “was pretty neat”, despite the fact that he “tries to let go of things that I have no control over as I’ve gotten older.” Wayne says that the credit broke through that feeling, describing it as “something different entirely.” Still, Wayne feels that “the biggest thing is still working with the people on the set. If I have their respect, that’s what matters. When you have the likes of Simon Jays [a crucial member of the behind the camera team that works on The Mandalorian], an excellent cameraman, respecting you enough to let you do certain things, that’s when I feel like I made it.”
Star Wars fans always love to welcome performers and creators who are genuine fans of the franchise. Dave Filoni is a prime example of this as he himself is clearly just as much of a fan as the audience watching, hence why he is a fan favorite on the creator side of things. Wayne appears to be no different, saying that “Star Wars means everything to me. This was the beginning of my love for mythology.”
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