When Mando met Obi-Wan: Review of Ewan McGregor and Pedro Pascal in Actors on Actors interview

Ewan McGregor and Pedro Pascal.
Ewan McGregor and Pedro Pascal chat in Actors on Actors interview. Pic credit: ©

Connected by the internet and a shared franchise, Ewan McGregor and Pedro Pascal simultaneously dropped their heads on their chests.

McGregor was Pascal providing a glimpse into his experiences of walking with a Yoda puppet in The Phantom Menace: “Every time George (Lucas) called ‘Cut!’, he would die, Yoda,” he exclaimed, pitching his neck forward in an imitation of the suddenly abandoned animatronic.

Pascal, meanwhile, who has doubtless had similar experiences in his work with Grogu on The Mandalorian, flopped his head forward at exactly the same time, and for a second, there they were: Young Obi-Wan and Mando, a silent, mirrored image of what works in Star Wars and what does not.

What does work, as McGregor was discussing at the time, is terrific actors working with a well-planned script and relatable characters who are flesh and foam rather than tropes and pixels.

But one of these men began his working life in Star Wars living in that knowledge. The other suffered for establishing it.

Parallel perspectives

As part of its Actors on Actors series, Variety put Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Pedro Pascal (Din Djarin/Mando) on a video call and let the laptop cameras roll.

It is perhaps an ominous sign of Star Wars oversaturation that the two actors responsible for playing the modern franchise’s most iconic roles just interviewed one another for half an hour, and the non-fandom world barely registered the event.

That is a pity because what resulted was a fascinating back and forth between two talented men reaching across cyberspace from their parallel perspectives—one who provided a universally praised performance in a reviled franchise trilogy (McGregor in the prequels) and one who played a part in rescuing it from a split and spiraling fanbase (Pascal in The Mandalorian.)

The successful project of one allowed for the new opportunity of the other. The wild success of The Mandalorian re-ignited the love of many jaded Star Wars fans (including McGregor, as he suggests in this interview.) It also launched an unexpected renaissance for an exhausted property: After several years of rapid-fire movie making, including a divisive sequel trilogy, the advent of Disney+ means that streaming series are the new future of Star Wars.

Their parallel franchise lives, although not experienced together, provide a window into how the Star Wars universe and fans’ interactions with it have changed and continue to shift.

The two men are sharing the same technological acting experience in addition to an IP; McGregor’s series, Obi-Wan Kenobi, is currently shooting on the same Volume set used for The Mandalorian.

There… but not there

McGregor and Pascal, as key actors playing two towering roles, stand in the center of this transitional moment. Though they are both doubtless and aware of this turbulent juncture in franchise history, they each let slip a childlike awe of the fact that they are grown men paid to play Star Wars.

McGregor’s solid performance as young Obi-Wan was a rare bright spot in the prequels. While many fans shunned the second trilogy for its off-putting reliance on CGI, unfocused character development, and annoying alterations of franchise canon, McGregor provided an anchoring presence with his uncanny ability to channel Alec Guinness in his prime, infused with dashing bravery and reassuring moral certainty.

Pascal, meanwhile, spent much of the first season of The Mandalorian off-screen, providing voiceovers for stunt doubles who filled in for him while he shot Wonder Woman 1984. Like much of the background and characters in the prequels, Pascal was there… and yet he wasn’t.

But backstage footage of Pascal in costume, along with Mando’s more dynamic body language, suggests his vastly increased presence in Season 2.  And McGregor, who struggled for years with Lucas-penned dialogue and little to act against but a stagehand holding a stick, now enjoys the far more realistic opportunity of the immersive Volume sets.

Bound by the same universe

While their conversation was warm and intelligent, it was also charmingly awkward enough to signal that these two men did not know one another very well, if they have ever met or spoken at length at all.

Both connected on the struggle with keeping Star Wars secrets, Pascal’s voice dropping to tender tones as he explained why he didn’t tell even his family about The Mandalorian’s premiere surprise of Baby Yoda (“It’s not called Baby Yoda—Grogu,” McGregor self-corrects. “Very good!” Pascal responds approvingly.)

Even in the act of discussing the pressures of non-disclosure, both actors dropped tiny news bomblets. Pascal confirmed that while The Mandalorian will have a third season, shooting has not yet begun, and McGregor mentioned scenes in which he interacts with Jawas and walks past stormtroopers.

However, the fan blog fodder wasn’t the most important part of this video. What will survive from this conversation is the contrast and currents between two men tossed about by the same universe—bound by it, like you and I, even if they never encounter one another again. That is the way of this galaxy.

But they seem to understand such things—celebrate it, even. For, once McGregor and Pascal lifted their heads, both were grinning.

The Mandalorian streams on Disney+.

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