Jon Favreau has been keeping busy at The Walt Disney Company: not only working on his commitments on camera and behind the scenes for Marvel Studios and Disney, but he's also set to introduce fans to The Mandalorian, a live action TV series set in the Star Wars universe set to debut on Disney's streaming platform Disney+. With the trailer for the series set to make its debut at Disney's D23 Conference on August 23rd, Favreau spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about what he has prepared for the show's production.
Favreau offered a contrast between CG models creator George Lucas used for the Star Wars prequels to what will be used on The Mandalorian.
"Well, I would argue that the prequels are — and [George] Lucas in general is — the bedrock that all of this is built on. He is the first person that had digital photography, he was the first person to do completely CG characters. The whole notion of not having even a print [version of the film], of having everything be 0's and 1's, was all George. Not to mention EditDroid, which turned into Avid, Pixar was spawned out of their laboratories at LucasFilm, so he is arguably the center of the Big Bang for everything that I'm doing. It's building on the shoulders of what he was able to innovate.
This is 20 years later, and also there's been a democratization of the skill set too. It's no longer a few vendors innovating in ivory towers, that information has been expanded and disseminated and democratized so that effects that would cost you millions of dollars, you can do it on a PC now, with consumer-facing filmmaking tools. When George came to our set and visited The Mandalorian, he said, 'Oh, we did this,' and what he meant was, 'We had green screen and we were building small sets and expanding upon it.' Now, we have video walls, NVIDIA video cards that allow a refresh rate that allows you to do in-camera effects, we're in there taking advantage of the cutting-edge stuff."
Favreau talked about why he was trying to evoke the prequels, as opposed to what director J. J. Abrams did in the sequel trilogy.
"Every film is a puzzle, and there's a freedom that you have as a storyteller if you go to the real environment; it affects you and the human element. When you see Lawrence of Arabia, how much of that is informed by really being there and not shooting it in Calabasas — I think you get a different movie. The way I work and the stories I'm telling are geared specifically toward what this technology has to offer, so I could not make Episode IX using these tools.
If you notice, there's a certain look that the Mandalorean lead character has, there's a size that the spaceship is, there's a scale that lines up with the original trilogy. I'm trying to evoke the aesthetics of not just the original trilogy but the first film. Not just the first film but the first act of the first film. What was it like on Tatooine? What was going on in that cantina? That has fascinated me since I was a child, and I love the idea of the darker, freakier side of Star Wars, the Mad Max aspect of Star Wars."
The actor-director spoke about how The Mandalorian was a passion project even before Disney acquired Lucasfilm and what Disney+ affords him creatively:
"I wrote four of the episodes before I even had a deal, because I wanted to do this but only if they wanted to do the version that I wanted to do. I had been thinking about Star Wars since Disney acquired Star Wars. When I was working on Lion King, it was a full-time job for a few of the years, but there was a lot of time when I just had to be available for three very focused hours a day. The TV model allowed me to be an executive producer [on Mandalorian], which allowed me to, on my own time, write everything.
It's a lot like being a chef. You write the menu, you staff up with people who are great at what they do, you oversee and help guide the people who are actually cooking the food, working the line, and then at the end, you plate. That's why it worked well for Disney. Plus, Disney+ is emerging and there's an opportunity to tell a story that's bigger than television, but you don't have the same expectations that a big holiday release has, which to me isn't that type of Star Wars that comes out of me. The type of Star Wars that I'm inspired to tell is a smaller thing with new characters."
The Mandalorian takes place after the fall of the Empire[a] and before the emergence of the First Order and follows a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic. Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Carl Weathers, Emily Swallow, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog, Taika Waititi, Bill Burr, and Mark Boone Jr.
The Mandalorian will premiere on Disney+ on November 12.