Long Before 'The Mandalorian', Dave Filoni Almost Blew His Chance To Work On 'Star Wars'

In honor of Star Wars Day, the first episode of the new documentary series Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian has arrived on Disney+. The series begins by profiling all of the directors who took on an episode in the first season of the live-action Star Wars series. The result is a collection of some entertaining anecdotes from long before The Mandalorian was even an idea, perspective on tackling something as big as Star Wars, and a peek at how the show was produced.

Below, we've rounded up some of the finer points of the first episode, including executive producer Dave Filoni telling the story of how he nearly blew his opportunity to tackle The Clone Wars, which turned him into the Star Wars creator that fans adore today.

The Mandalorian - Directors

For The Mandalorian, executive producer Jon Favreau rounded up what was referred to as a makeshift Dirty Dozen, or to be a little more numerically accurate (but still one off), The Magnificent Seven. Fellow executive producer Dave Filoni (The Clone Wars), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope, Talk To Me), Deborah Chow (Mr. Robot), Bryce Dallas Howard (Dads), and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) all sit down for a roundtable discussion that is interspersed with behind the scenes footage of the making of The Mandalorian, and here's some of the more interesting tidbits that were revealed.

Dave Filoni Thought the Clone Wars Job Opportunity Was a Joke

Dave Filoni was working on Nickelodeon's The Last Airbender when the opportunity from Lucasfilm came along for him to potentially executive produce a computer animated series focusing on The Clone Wars, the massive war that had previously been adapted into a 2D animated, two-volume series. However, he was used to being pranked and picked-on by fellow animators and colleagues, and when the first phone call came along for him to have an interview for The Clone Wars, he thought it was a gag.

During the roundtable discussion, Filoni recounts having a cocky attitude and careless demeanor while talking to an unnamed woman from Lucasfilm who wanted to schedule an appointment for him to have the first of three interviews for the job. Filoni went along with what he thought was a joke, responding sarcastically and without any significant consideration. Thankfully, towards the end of the phone call, he realized it was real and recovered decently enough to still keep the interview.

George Lucas Was Everything Dave Filoni Wanted Him to Be

That mistaken prank phone call resulted in several interviews that eventually landed him in front of George Lucas, and Filoni said he was everything that he wanted the Star Wars creator to be. During the interview, he said Lucas laid out what the negotiations for a job like this would be if a Jedi were doing the negotiating. Filoni said he had the vibe of a Toshiro Mifune character, the actor who frequently collaborated with filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, who directed films like The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and The Hidden Fortress, all of which have influenced various sects of Star Wars.

Dave Filoni is The Mandalorian's Secret Weapon

Most of this first episode of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian features a quick profile of each director, showing them working on the set and participating both in the roundtable discussion and talking head interviews. But when Dave Filoni is highlighted, he's the only one who has all the filmmakers complimenting his immense knowledge of Star Wars lore and style.

Jon Favreau starts by calling Filoni "a great collaborator, great animator, great director, storyteller, writer." He goes on to add that Filoni "has a strong intuition about what George [Lucas] would say." There's even a moment when Filoni is talking about a certain shot that he wants to pull off, and he alludes to a certain shot in Empire Strikes Back, and Favreau can't recollect what he's talking about.

Fellow director Taika Waititi says, "He's an encyclopedia of all the Star Wars lore." Series co-star Gina Carano echoes those sentiments by saying, "You can ask him anything. You can be like, 'Hey, what about this shoulder pad?' And Dave Filoni would be like, 'That's not actually what it looks like, but let me tell you why, and let me tell you the history of why."

Bryce Dallas Howard finds something special in Filoni's approach to the series. She says, "There's a purity to his relationship to Star Wars in general that is just really obvious. There's no Dave Filoni ego, it's just all about Star Wars and George [Lucas] and the stuff that's important."

Series star Pedro Pascal gives Filoni plenty of credit by adding, "We wouldn't be able to do this show without Dave Filoni. He is the truest lover of the material. He's so well-informed, and he knows exactly what would fit, what would make sense."

But Deborah Chow puts it most succinctly when she says, "He, more than anyone, just innately knows what's right and what's wrong for Star Wars."

Bryce Dallas Howard Was Given the Most Challenging Episode

Despite having no major blockbuster directing experience, Bryce Dallas Howard was given what Jon Favreau thinks might be the most challenging episode of the first season. During the roundtable discussion, Favreau said they really threw Howard into the deep end by giving her an episode that had to be shot in the forest, with water elements and big mech setpieces for the AT-ST battle sequence. That's because Howard's lack of experience meant that she didn't know to be worried about having to deal with stuff like that while all the other filmmakers knew how difficult that was going to be.

Many compliments are given to Howard in her handling of the emotional elements of her episode, and there are several clips showing her getting emotional herself while watching certain scenes as they unfold on set. Not bad for a woman who fell asleep in the presence of George Lucas and Akira Kurosawa when her father Ron Howard met with them in Japan. But she was six years old and jet lagged, so we won't hold it against her.

The Darksaber Prop Actually Lights Up on Camera

In a quick bit of footage from the season finale directed by Taika Waititi, we see Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon as he emerges from his crashed TIE Fighter. In the scene, he's holding the legendary Darksaber, and you might be surprised to see that it's an actual prop that lights up on set and on camera. It's likely replaced with visual effects in post-production, but the prop has a black blade in the center of a white glowing light surrounding it. Hopefully that gets turned into a collectible sometime in the near future.

Taika Waititi Used Lord of the Rings Props in What We Do in the Shadows

This is a little off the beaten path of Star Wars, but it shows how resourceful Taika Waititi can be as a filmmaker. When directing What We Do in the Shadows, they asked Weta Workshop in New Zealand if there were any old Lord of the Rings props, make-up pieces, and whatnot that didn't get used which they might be able to make use of for vampire props. Sure enough, they were able to get some pointy ears, fake teeth and other assorted pieces to help their low budget production. Movie magic!