Pedro Pascal admits everyone’s expectations have been surpassed when it comes to the success thus far The Mandalorianthe rabidly popular Star Wars spinoff that birthed “Baby Yoda” — and, in turn, drew hordes of subscribers to what in 2019 was just a wee-bit infant of a streaming service, Disney+.
“But it’s also to no real surprise,” Pascal tells us this week at a Los Angeles press junket where he was joined by the show’s co-creators he credits. “Because it was so clear to me that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni knew what they were doing, and put their entire hearts into it. As did the hundreds of crew members, cast members and everyone behind the show. So that level of dedication is exactly why people have such a wonderful show to watch.”
After two stellar seasons — including a banger of a Season 2 finale highlighted by a Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) appearance — and some co-opting of its recent sibling series The Book of Boba Fett, The Mandalorian‘s third run arrived Wednesday with momentum in hyperdrive.
The question now becomes how will this season, which follows Pascal’s Grogu-protecting, rule-breaking bounty hunter Din Djarin back to his home planet of Mandalore for some Outer Rim damage control, continue to ride that wave?
“It [began] as this one lone gunman on his way,” Filoni says. “And now Mando’s own world has gotten bigger because he cares so much about this little child. And along the way, he made more and more friends. His world wasn’t like that when he started the series. He was alone. And it affects his whole life. And so I think there’s a lesson there as he’s opened up to this child, as he opened up to so many allies and the world around him.”
Fans are eager to know how much Filoni, Favreau and company are going to open up about that child. In Season 1, you were introduced to — and promptly fell in love with — the aggressively adorable creature instantly (if unofficially) dubbed Baby Yoda. And later that, like Yoda, the Force is strong with him. In Season 2, you learned his actual name, Grogu. But the fiendishly fawned-over character still remains, in large part, an enigma.
Will we ever find out if he’s related to Yoda? And what is their species even called? Will there continue to be major revelations about him in Season 3?
“I think so [Din] learns more, you learn more,” Favreau says. “Just like we did with the lead character of The Mandalorian, we showed little snippets of flashback as he sat alongside the armor and was led through a reverie of memories of his early childhood and what he faced and how he became part of the Mandalorians . I think there’s an echoing, a harmonics, with the past of Baby Yoda. Grogu also had a really rough beginning, and saw things that scared him to the point that he doesn’t remember things that clearly. And so as he starts to learn, we learn with him, what he’s been through.”
What Pascal is currently going through, meanwhile, is what you’d call “a moment.”
Between The Mandalorian returning and HBO’s new hit dystopian video game adaptation The Last of Us, the 47-year-old Chilean-born actor now headlines arguably the two buzziest shows on television. (He’d prefer you not say he “owns” them.) He also hosted the funniest episode of Saturday Night Live so far this season.
The comparisons between The Mandalorian and Last of Us (in which Pascal’s Joel escorts another surrogate child, Bella Ramsey’s Ellie, to safety) have been ubiquitous on social media.
“He’s become like the definitive father figure in dystopic [stories],” Favreau laughs. “Warrior Dad.”
Says Pascal: “The trope of protector and protected, father and child, parent and child, is not brand new to any of us. So I think that both shows derive from other sources in the most beautiful way and then bring their own originality to them. It’s so often I see so much Ridley Scott in a lot of what Jon and Dave do with The Mandalorian. And I see that Neil Druckmann’s game that was released in 2013 has drawn so much inspiration from things afterwards. So it’s just this interesting synchronicity and influence that I didn’t even realize that I was under.”
But does it feel like he’s cheating on Grogu now?
“I feel like if Grogu and Ellie met, they would ditch me,” he cracks. “And be like, ‘Bye, besties.'”
The Mandalorian Season 3 is now streaming on Disney+.
Watch the trailer: