By Josh Reilly B. & George Bate
The Mandalorian‘s third season recently came to an end with an action-packed finale that saw the Mandalorians come face-to-face with Moff Gideon’s Imperial remnant. Compared to the series’ first two seasons, this latest collection of eight episodes broadened the scope beyond Din Djarin and Grogu to focus on other Mandalorians, including Bo-Katan Kryze, Pre Vizsla, and Axe Woves.
Introduced in “Chapter 11: The Heiress,” Axe Woves was a supporting player in Season 2 before going onto be a main character in Season 3. Woves is played by Simon Kassianides, an English actor who is also known for roles in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Quantum of Solace, and more. The HoloFiles and Star Wars Holocron recently spoke with Kassianides to discuss his character’s arc in The Mandalorian, his approach to the character, working with Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau, and more.
Kassianides discussed the pressure that comes with making such a high profile series, along with the feeling of relief that has came now that Season 3 has aired in its entirety.
“You hope that you’re going to get a good reaction, especially being a fan myself,” Kassianides said. “There’s a bit of a gap between when you finish filming, and when it comes out so there’s always a bit of trepidation. You’re always sitting there thinking, ‘Was there broccoli in my teeth, [laughs] or you know, how is this gonna come across?’ But now that it’s over? It’s just been incredible. The feedback and how everyone’s responded to the character. It’s just been so rewarding in so many ways. How people are really happy with the character [Axe Woves] and what it represents to a lot of people. I’ve had such a spectrum of reactions, all positive.”
Kassianides spoke about how this positivity radiates from Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, the two heads behind much of what’s going on in a galaxy far, far away nowadays. “It all starts with good writing and good storytelling, which with Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau, you’ve got incredible writers,” Kassianides said. “Everything is well thought out, very respectful to the franchise. When you get the scripts, you know you’re in good hands.”
Beyond the scripts, however, Kassianides was able to approach Favreau and Filoni with his ideas for the character. “My job as an actor is always to review in between the lines and what I can flesh out, and then approach the creatives in charge and say, ‘hey, look! I’ve got these ideas, and I’m thinking along these lines’. And very quickly on set, you realize that you’re in really safe hands. The best hands in the world.”
In such safe hands, Kassianides was able to explore the backstory of his character Axe Woves, including details that date back to the Purge of Mandalore and the character’s subsequent survival of the genocide.
“I certainly imagined a lot of pain [in Axe Woves], and a lot of empathy,” Kassianides said. “Looking at the insignia even on his arm, you know he is part of the Nite Owls, but he has no Nite Owl insignia. There’s no emblems on on the shoulders. There’s nothing about the helmet, so I thought, ‘Where do I go from that?’ Well, I’ve got to imagine that this character exists in a realm of his reputation on the battlefield. Maybe he built a reputation. And then the pain that he has when he’s on the drop ship with Paz Viszla, and he says he was here when it happened. What happened to him? How did he get off the planet? The decision to show some of that pain, those were choices of mine.”
In examining his character’s origins further, Kassianides revealed that it was George Lucas who named his character on set of Season 2, adding even more to Axe Woves as a hero and his place within the franchise’s rich lore.
“My very first time meeting Jon [Favreau] and Dave [Filoni], and being fitted, for Season 2…Jon and Dave looked at each other and asked if I knew how the character got his name. I just said it’s a pretty cool name. And they said that the day that George Lucas visited the set, he was sitting there and just suggested that there should be a character called Axe, quite randomly. But from that moment onwards I thought, ‘I better get my textbooks out.’ I mean humbling, right? I mean, you’re involved in something like that. And you realize that the guy conjured up this really cool name. You know just that it adds to it all.”
After being absent in the finale of Season 2, other cast members revealed that Axe Woves originally died in “Chapter 11: The Heiress,” something that Kassianides confirmed.
“The way I look at it is that it’s really the storytellers story to tell, so Jon and Dave and all the guys that create the show,” Kassianides said. “They’re such experts in deciding everything, and and they see how they want to shape things. I can’t really speak to [deciding to make Axe Woves live], because I think I was just mostly excited that it didn’t go that way. But yeah, I do remember them calling me saying, ‘Would you like to come back and film. And I said, ‘Yeah, cool.’ And then when I went in and that and we did that it was beyond the season finale [of Season 2] having been locked, so it was too late to be inserted into a finale. So, there was a lot of the ‘Where was he? What were you doing? Why weren’t you in it?’ Now the cat’s out the bag. I certainly had no idea for a long time as to how and when, and if I was going to be back, and you know all I had to go on was the wonderful reaction from the fans, just from that one episode in Season 2 which which leaves you hopeful. And then, obviously, when I got the scripts for Season 3, reading them, I just thought ‘Wow!’”
Woves was certainly a fan favorite coming out of this new batch of episodes, with the part of the finale in which he declared ‘For Mandalore!’ proving to be a resounding and triumphant moment. Kassianides spoke of this triumphant moment for his character and Mandalore. “Jon and I sat down and he said, ‘How do you feel about this arc and how would you feel about saying something?’ And he said to try ‘For Mandalore!’ And well, you know the rest is history, but it was an amazing moment, thinking about them all returning, especially the back story that I built in to that moment in terms of what it meant for that character.”
As seen above, Axe Woves is seen standing next to Ragnar Vizsla, the son of the late Pre Vizsla. Kassianides was asked if Ragnar is now Axe Woves’ Foundling to take care of. “I have not heard anything of that. Butwhen you hear about [these fan theories], you think, ‘Wow, you know what? These are the best, you know.” Kassianides continued, “I know that Jon [Favreau] is so meticulous, and Dave, that the positioning and that choice to say that line and have that in frame and choose that frame isn’t by accident.”
Surviving Season 3 means Axe Woves may appear in upcoming episodes of Star Wars television. While viewers eagerly wait for Woves’ return, fans of Kassianides and his performance as Axe Woves who wish to explore more of his work may want to check out his short film Trust No One, which he wrote, directed, and stars in (included below!).
Watch The HoloFiles‘ full interview with Simon Kassianides below!