Katee Sackhoff On The Thrill And Challenges Of Returning To 'Star Wars' As Bo-Katan In 'The Mandalorian' [Interview]

Katee Sackhoff made her triumphant return to Star Wars by reprising her role as Bo-Katan Kryze in live-action for the first time in a recent episode of The Mandalorian. Though we got the jump on the character's move from the animated side of Star Wars to live-action, seeing Bo-Katan fly into action wearing her full Mandalorian armor was quite a treat.

/Film was pleased to chat with Katee Sackhoff about the thrill and challenges that came with bringing Bo-Katan to life in a more complete way after she only previously voiced the character in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Plus, we asked whether she has held the Darksaber, and how much she knows about what Bo-Katan has been up to in the years before The Mandalorian.

First off, let me just apologize since /Film is responsible for breaking the story about you returning as Bo-Katan in The Mandalorian, and we're sorry if that resulted in you getting endless questions that you couldn't really answer.

[laughs] I think I actually had an easier time than some people, because all I had to say was, "Yeah, I mean, I do play Bo-Katan, so I think they're getting confused." [laughs]

So when did you find out that you were going to get to bring this role into live-action in The Mandalorian?

The actual timeline is not complete in my head. I know that it was summer because at my meeting with Jon [Favreau] I was wearing a tanktop. And it was after Star Wars Celebration. So it was sometime in there. I didn't really find out until I was sitting in front of him in his office, but I got this phone call that Jon wanted to sit down with me. I was sort of thinking to myself, "It couldn't be. Maybe it is. No, it couldn't be. It can't happen. This kind of stuff doesn't happen." But I remember sitting across from Jon and him pitching this idea of Bo-Katan in this world, and I think it finally hit me halfway through the meeting that he was actually talking about me doing it. I was completely confused, and then I was like, "Oh my God, that's amazing! Of course I want to do this." So I think I was in shock for a good number of days.

From the beginning, were you keyed into this quest she's on to restore Mandalore? Because it seems like one of the bigger secrets from the first season was the fact that Moff Gideon was in possession of the Darksaber, so I'm wondering if that's something you knew about ahead of time.

As soon as I saw the Darksaber, which is mine, and I say "which is mine" in a very tongue-in-cheek way, I think that only fans of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels would have gotten that reference, unless they went searching for what the significance of that was. For me, I knew a little bit about where it was going, but I didn't really have my script until I had my script. And the rest we'll have to wait and see.

Obviously without spoiling anything, have you, as an actress, gotten to hold the Darksaber? Not necessarily in front of the camera to indicate that Bo-Katan will be wielding it this season, but merely as a prop.

[laughs] I'm actually trying to think if I have. I don't know if I have. I know I've held the baby.

They showed the prop in The Mandalorian documetary series, and it looks cool even without visual effects.

I've definitely seen it. On a show like this, you really have to make friends with the prop master, because they hold your weapons. So you have to get really comfortable with them. And they have a table where there's all these fun things and everybody's weapons are basically sitting on these tables. It's such a fun place to visit, especially if you're obsessed with the world, it's so much fun to go look at these things. So I've definitely seen it, but I just don't know if I've picked it up. I cannot tell you, I really don't remember!

*laughs* Fair enough! Speaking of props and whatnot, you get to wear the full Mandalorian armor as Bo-Katan now. Are there any changes or subtle touches that are different from how Bo-Katan looked in animated form?

I know that Bo's armor is slightly different. Some things don't translate straight from animation live-action. Women's bodies are shaped very differently. I have hips. Unlike Bo in animation, I have a bum. So we really had to work on where to place the armor so it would add to and not distract from. It was all about trying to make the armor not only look like Bo-Katan but also be aesthetically, not appealing – what's the word I'm looking for? We didn't want it to look bulky, and we wanted it to look tactile and usable. Flattering! That's the word I was looking for.

How have you approached Bo-Katan different in live-action as opposed to your work on the animated side?

The animated is very different, because you sit in a booth, you jump and move around and make your face do all kinds of things to get the type of inflection that you need for certain things. You get to play around. In live-action, you have to be very conscious of what the character would actually do. For me, I move way too much. My hands never stop, and my face never stops moving. For better or worse, I'm a very expressive person, and that's just not who Bo-Katan is. So I had to learn how to move like her, which was daunting, and I wasn't prepared for that. I didn't think it would be as hard as it was. I don't want to say hard, but I thought that it would be seamless. I thought that I would just fold right into her because I played her for so long, and that wasn't the case. I had to pause and actually go, "Oh my gosh, how does she move?" And that took a beat.

For your fighting scenes, did you have to do any special martial arts or weapons training, or did you leave that up to your stuntwoman since it's a little easier to pull off with Bo-Katan wearing a helmet?

Absolutely. I did quite a large number of my action scenes. But at the same time, this show shoots so differently, and there are so many units going on at the same time that it's quite impossible for me to be in multiple places at the same time. I'm so lucky to have an amazing stunt double, Caitlin [Dechelle], who is absolutely brilliant. Her martial arts skills are unparalleled. She's so good at what she does, and she makes me look good. The fighting stuff, the dialogue, and that kind of stuff I'm really good at. But the flying stuff, the wire work, all that stuff, I'm gonna leave it to her because it helps Bo look good, and that's what the fans deserve. It takes two of us to make that happen.

You've worked with Dave Filoni on The Clone Wars, and obviously he has an extensive knowledge of these characters, especially Bo-Katan, and I wonder if he gave you any insight as to what she's been up to in the years since we last saw her in order to inform your portrayal of where she's at now?

That's one of the things that has been so beneficial with Dave and Jon. They'll talk about this stuff as much as you want to talk about it. And I love to hear things about my character. Anytime I can talk about Bo-Katan more, it helps me live as her more. I'm hearing her story, I'm owning her backstory. Dave and I were just texting over the weekend about some backstory stuff, and I love it because I have such an ownership over her now, or at least I feel like I do anyway. I'm very protective of her. So we talk about it non-stop when I'm on set because I want to know as much about her as possible. It makes my job as an actor easier when I know her inside and out.

Is this backstory something that we might see explored either later this season or maybe in another medium, perhaps comic books or maybe a spin-off series or something like that?

Look at you trying to get secrets out of me. You don't get another spoiler here! No, in all honestly, I don't know. These are fun things that Dave and I talk about because we love the character so much. I have no idea what's happening. That's so far above my pay grade.

Is there anything about the backstory that wouldn't be a spoiler that fans would be interested in knowing, or is it all just too secretive?

[laughs] Here's the deal: I've played her for so long, and I love this character so much. That moment that the fans saw her, when they saw Bo take her helmet off, that feeling, I don't want to ruin that for people. I think that maintaining that feeling for the fans is so important. You can't see me smiling, so I'm just gonna move on. [laughs]


Here's hoping we haven't seen the last of Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan this season. The next episode of The Mandalorian is coming to Disney+ on Friday, November 27, and we'll have our regular SlashFilm Daily episode featuring a spoiler discussion about the new episode that day.