Ewan McGregor and Pedro Pascal are no strangers to the world of Star Wars. Both are starring in their own series for Disney+ (as Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Mandalorian, respectively), and both have been fans of the series for a long time. So getting to see the two actors talk to one another for Variety‘s Actors On Actors series was delightful. It was particularly delightful for me as someone who loves Ewan McGregor very much and is known for being a huge Pedro Pascal fan.
Pascal and McGregor got into discussing the innovative technology used to create The Mandalorian that is now being used for Obi-Wan Kenobi and how different it was from McGregor’s experience on the sets of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
“I like it. It’s like the beginning of Hollywood. It’s almost like when they had three-sided sets all in a row, and a bunch of guys with windup cameras, and you would just go from one stage to the other, one background to the other. Well, we’re doing sort of the same thing, except just the background changes instead of the stage. I’m excited about it because I feel like anything’s possible now. That you can invent stuff, interiors or exteriors that don’t exist in the real world, and put us into that environment. And also, you don’t have to fly ever. I mean, traveling has been great for the first 30 years of my career, but now I just want to stay at home. I just want to drive to work and drive home from work. I want a proper job.”
McGregor went on to talk about Pascal in The Mandalorian and praised the show for getting him back into his love of Star Wars. I have a similar relationship with the show. While I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since I was a kid, I was a little worn down over all the fighting with the sequel trilogy. It wasn’t that fun for me watching everyone scream and fight, and I thought maybe I’d be over it for a little while. But then that little green baby took over my entire life and suddenly my favorite character was Din Djarin, and I couldn’t tell you how I got here. So learning that McGregor went through a similar phase is interesting. I wonder if this is an experience shared by many Star Wars fans who have had qualms about later movies.
Pascal praised The Mandalorian creatives Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, talking about their first meetings together and the love for the franchise the two have. “The first thing that I noticed when I started meeting with Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni was that they were finding a way to totally realize their love of ‘Star Wars,’ all of our love for ‘Star Wars’ And so, creatively to step into something, it just felt so safe. It was so clear to me that they knew what they were doing, starting with their heart being in the right place — and doing it with a lot of love.”
Palscal went on to share his own longstanding love of the franchise as well.
“I was born in ’75, and my parents immigrated to the U.S. from Chile when I was a baby. We were absorbing a lot of cinema. My father, who’s a doctor but loves going to the movies, would be taking us all the time. And so, it kind of dominated my childhood experience, “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” and “E.T.,” and all that Spielberg and George Lucas stuff.
When I met with them, and stepped into a writers’ room that was wall-to-wall story illustrations of the first season, it was really surreal to see such familiar imagery, and kind of realize that those were pulled right out of your imagination. They know the impact that it had on all of us, and they’re finding a way to — or new ways, really — to speak to that, and visually create the things that we see when we close our eyes and think about it. Which is kind of amazing.”
Ewan McGregor seemed to have my own personal interests at heart. He started to ask about Grogu and how The Mandalorian (and Pedro Pascal) managed to keep him such a secret.
“That may literally be the very first secret that I’ve ever kept. Don’t share anything personal with me! But there’s so much seriousness around leaked information, and I find it all just a bit too much. I tell my family everything, and I didn’t with Grogu. I didn’t even know what his name was going to be until the second season, but I could just tell that it was going to have such an impact. When I saw the image of this thing, and started reading the scripts and everything, I didn’t want to compromise that in any way. It was easy to not talk about it because it was like, ‘Nah, I want this to work.””
Pascal shared the story of his improv with Grogu, a moment when Grogu is moving towards the fire and Pascal (in character) tells him to not get too close. Why it’s so special is that Pascal said the remote operator of Grogu responded to his improv in the scene and had Grogu look up at him before backing away from the fire. The artistry and coordination here are amazing for a great many reasons, but the fact that Pascal got to work off the puppet is brilliant—and so McGregor began talking about acting opposite Yoda during The Phantom Menance.
“The first film I did, I was lucky to do my scenes with the Yoda puppet. And it was extraordinary, because I acted with him. I couldn’t believe I was acting with Yoda. There’s so many people operating him, and the stage is lifted up so they’re underneath the floor and we were literally walking next to each other — and he’s alive. Then every time George called cut, Yoda would die, because everyone just stops. It was sort of disturbing every time the end of the scene would come along.”
What I loved most about this interview was that it showed how both Pedro Pascal and Ewan McGregor have a real and abiding affection for the Star Wars franchise. When McGregor admitted to finally seeing a Stormtrooper on the set of Obi-Wan Kenobi, he expressed his excitement over it, to which Pascal responded with a “Doesn’t it do something to you?” because these two are clearly fans. They love this world and have an attachment to the characters they’re playing. Getting to be a fan while creating it for others? That has to be something special.
“I was feeling like I was 6 again or something, because I’m so close to one and I got a fright, you know? So crazy. Then I asked someone, “Were there Stormtroopers in my films? Because I don’t think I’ve seen a Stormtrooper for real before.” They were like “No, they weren’t Stormtroopers; they were clones.” And Jawas, I had another scene with a little Jawa.”
The interview went on to talk about McGregor’s work in Halston and their connection to each other through Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and the whole discussion is well worth watching. But this moment where Obi-Wan Kenobi and Din Djarin just geeked out about Star Wars is incredibly special to me.
(via Variety, image: screengrab from Variety)
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