Pedro Pascal Shares The Awesome Story Of How He Was Cast In The Mandalorian

The space Western series "The Mandalorian" debuted on Disney+ on November 19, 2019 to a great deal of acclaim. Set in the universe of "Star Wars" after the events of "Return of the Jedi," but about 25 years prior to the events of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," "The Mandalorian" follows a mysterious masked space cowboy named Din Djarin (although his name is a closely guarded secret) who becomes embroiled in a complex plot involving an psychic alien toddler named Grogu. Taking character cues from Sergio Leone Westerns and various 1950s samurai films, the Mandalorian is a stoic, honorable figure who lives by a strict code alongside other masked Mandalorians; the mask is part of their code. Most episodes of "The Mandalorian" have been written by Jon Favreau, the show's creator. Many episodes have been directed by star directors like Rick Famuyiwa, Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Rodriguez, and even Carl Weathers. 

Underneath the Mandalorian mask is Chilean actor Pedro Pascal, who has been acting in film and TV since 1999. Pascal has appeared on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," six episodes of "The Good Wife" and played four different characters on three of the "Law & Order" shows. In film, he appeared in big-budget studio films like "The Adjustment Bureau," "The Great Wall," and played the central villain in "Wonder Woman 1984." Most recently, he appeared opposite Nicolas Cage in "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent."

Meeting Favreau

As with most things "Star Wars," "The Mandalorian" was produced with the utmost secrecy. Indeed, details of "The Mandalorian" were kept under wraps during auditions, carefully hidden even from its potential cast, including Pascal. In a recent article in Vanity Fair, Pascal — now free to talk — tells an extensive and amusing anecdote about how he came to be on "The Mandalorian," and how mysterious the whole process was. When he first received the call, Pascal was told only that "it was something Star Wars."

He relates a story of how Favreau met him in the production studio's parking lot and waved him inside. Pascal was a fan of Favreau's from his indie film days (Favreau's big break spanned 1996's "Swingers," and 2001's "Made," his directorial debut), and felt the filmmaker kept his head about him. He was led into a large conference room containing executive producer and director Dave Filoni. Still not told anything, Pascal noted the walls:

"All four walls are, corner to corner, covered in story illustrations of the entire first season of the show. I just stepped into the room and was like, 'Oh, my God ... oh, look ... oh, wow...' pointing to this and that, and seeing all of these really beautiful references to the Star Wars that I grew up with. Visually, they were building on those references and creating all of this new stuff."

Baby Yoda

Favreau and Filoni told Pascal nothing, allowing him to react to the designs pasted corner-to-corner. Pascal recognized a lot of "Star Wars" iconography, and saw a recurring shadowy figure mixed in with the drawings. Per Vanity Fair:

"I really didn't know what they were planning. Maybe it's some sort of strategy of mine to lower my expectations as much as possible and not get excited, and presume that they want me to voice one episode, being a droid or something like that. I did not have any idea that they wanted me to step into the shoes of this iconic silhouette that seemed to exist visually from the beginning of the first wall to the second wall, to the third wall, to the fourth wall."

Pascal was at least wise enough to recognize the crowdpleasing potential of the Yoda creature, a toyetic, cuddly critter with big eyes and a babyish smile. For much of "The Mandalorian," the creature wasn't named, colloquially becoming Baby Yoda. It wouldn't be until later in the series that its name would be revealed to be Grogu. When Pascal first saw a drawing of Grogu, he didn't know if it was meant to be a young Yoda, a child of Yoda, or something else besides. He just knew it was damn cute.

Do the Star Wars math

Pascal instantly recognized the star power of the character who would be known as Grogu:

"In one corner, there appeared the illustration of what clearly looked like a baby version of Yoda, and my eye went immediately to it. I didn't understand whether it was the actual character or not, because I wasn't quick enough to do the math. The Star Wars math. I just saw the creature, and my heart melted, and I understood. I was like, 'You guys know people are going to lose their minds when they see that.'"

Still, however, the showrunners would not tell Pascal what the show was or whom they wanted him to play. When he was invited over to a secondary office to discuss things further, he knew things were getting serious, and he finally began to piece together what this project might be. He recalled thinking that he was intended to play the notable "Star Wars" supporting player Boba Fett, previously played by Jeremy Bullock and voiced by Jason Wingreen in the 1980s, and by Temuera Morrison in the '00s. Pascal's suspicions were ... kind of ... confirmed when he was shown the recognizable Boba Fett helmet. It was also here that he would meet executive producer Kathleen Kennedy.

"I got in my car, and I followed Jon to Manhattan Beach studios from the offices where we initially met. I think I may have called my agent. And I'm like, 'I think they want me to play Boba Fett!' ... They didn't say, 'This is not Boba Fett.' But I didn't ask ... When we drove over to the Manhattan Beach studios, they had the helmet out, and they put it on me — it fit quite snug — and they were showing me The Volume [the series Bible]."

What do you guys want me to play?

After seeing Baby Yoda, trying on the Boba Fett helmet, reading the Volume, and meeting Favreau and Kennedy, Pascal finally had the gumption to ask a direct question. The question took the execs a little bit off-guard.

"I think that they thought that I knew — but I didn't know — so I asked them finally: 'What do you guys want me to do? What do you guys want me to play?' And they seemed confused. They said, 'You're the Mandalorian.' And I was like, 'Holy s***. ... Really?'"

"The Mandalorian" has currently run for two seasons, with its third set to air on Disney+ in February of 2023. It now joins a host of other "Star Wars" TV shows that will include "The Book of Boba Fett," "Ahsoka," "Andor," "The Bad Batch," and multiple others currently in development.