Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni on The Mandalorian Season 3

Photo: Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau for Empire Magazine

On the eve of The Mandalorian Season 3 premiere Jon Favreau (Head writer/Executive Producer) and Dave Filoni (Executive Producer) sat down with a roundtable of Star Wars podcasts to talk about what lies ahead for the series. As always, these roundtables yield exceptional questions and responses. Favreau and Filoni talk about aspirational storytelling, Force philosophy, and Din Djarin’s journey. They echo the importance of seeing characters make good choices, which fellow Executive Producer Rick Famuyiwa noted in his interview as well. For more insight into the first episode “The Apostate” and thoughts on the interview, check out Fangirls Going Rogue’s The Mandalorian Premiere podcast episode.

This roundtable was edited for clarity.

Jon Favreau: And Dave can’t duck any questions, right?

Dave Filoni: That’s not true. I’m going to bend like a reed in the wind.

Tricia Barr from Fangirls Going Rogue: Thank you, gentlemen, for joining us. The Mandalorian and the Jedi have a long history in the galaxy, far, far away. Both are rebuilding in the show’s era. Is Grogu a nexus point for those two cultures to perhaps unite under Tarre Vizsla’s Darksaber?

JF: That’s a very interesting perspective. You know, he is definitely somebody who has spent time in both worlds. We know that he started off earlier in the Jedi Temple, we’ve seen flashbacks that speak to that. And then we know that he’s been rescued and spent many years with the Mandalorian. Went back with Luke. Now we’ve been two years apart from him, there training. What’s interesting is that as he chooses to return to his friend the Mandalorian, because he’s developed an attachment, it’s interesting how that echoes, in a way, Luke’s path when he was drawn to the attachment to his friends, and how that helped shape the future. So I think that you’re pointing out an interesting thing that we definitely discuss a great deal of: Where does he sit and who has come before him? And what is the relationship of those two civilizations?

Because the Mandalorian armor, as Dave’s taught me, was developed to counteract all of the natural abilities that the Jedi had and made it a more level playing field. So we have a lot to draw from. Both The Clone Wars, where they both cooperated and fought. And we also have ancient history as we saw in games and in extended universe where we know what you’re referring to, which is that they didn’t get along very well in the past.

So that’s a very interesting, valid perspective.

DF: Deep question.

Skytalkers Podcast: One thing we see a lot of in Star Wars is the connections between generations, often in the form of master and apprentice or father and son, with Din and Grogu. Why do you think this dynamic is so compelling?

DF: I think that as we grow up, we’re always seeking knowledge. We’re always seeking to be understood and to understand the world around us better. In so many disciplines beyond even a martial art, there is a master and apprentice in a very real way. I felt fortunate that George [Lucas] was my mentor for many years to even learn how to make Star Wars.

So those relationships in your journey through life, you find people that know more than you and that help educate you. They help you on your way. And so I think it’s just something that we all understand consciously, unconsciously. When you add a family dynamic to it, like Mando and Grogu, it’s even more powerful because we have that relationship in our life from the beginning.

And in Star Wars Rebels, we explored how that relationship can be different. It can be that adoptive family. It’s not even necessarily, you know, the family that you’re born into. And I think —

JF: Star Wars, that seems to be more powerful.

DF: Something that happens quite a bit.

JF: And then that your bloodline isn’t necessarily the most —

DF: The most defining thing, yeah. Mando and Grogu are adoptive, too. Mando was an outcast and Grogu was adrift. So I think people feel these ways and that’s why they want to see characters overcome them. We are dying for Mando to shut the ship off and go get Grogu in season one. That’s the right thing to do.

And we want to believe that we’re going to do the right thing. We want to be Luke and be brave enough to not rely on the targeting computer and turn it off [in A New Hope]. We want to believe in ourselves. But it takes everything that these stories tell us leading up to that moment to get these characters over that hump and do these things. I think that’s why we respond to it. We see the characters do things that maybe we’re not quite capable of yet, but they give us confidence to take the next step, hopefully, in life.

Skywalking Through Neverland: It’s great to see you guys again. Well, we know you can’t give too many deep cuts on this upcoming season, but can you give us some deep cut Easter eggs to look out for?

JF: Well, that’s part of the fun of the Easter egg, is that it’s something that you find, right? Isn’t that it? I will say that we really try to do everything we can to find aspects of Star Wars that maybe is unexpected for us to include. And I think that we had a lot of fun at first with drawing from the Star Wars Holiday Special with the Amban pulse rifle and also the camtono being Willrow Hood’s ice cream maker.

I think that the part I’m enjoying the most about this process is that no matter what part of fandom you are from and no matter what you grew up with and what era you connect with, we want to make sure that we have something for everybody here and that everybody is welcome to be part of it, even if you’re a new fan.

You know, even if you’re starting off, hopefully. I think that was one of the nice things about the first season is that these were characters — now if you knew about Star Wars, hopefully there was a lot of rewards for all the time spent reading the books or watching the movies or even the TV shows. But if you were new, you were just as welcome, arguably more welcome, because it’s like we have to invite the next generation in. And it’s always been an open door for young people. And as a kid, I remember I still remember, ten, 11 years old. It felt like it was for me, but it didn’t feel like it was pandering.

And so we want to try to make everybody feel that there’s something for them here. And we talk about that quite a bit. And we have directors from different segments of the entertainment world bringing different perspectives. That’s animation, independent film. So all of it is meant to really make that it feel like how it feels when you’re at Celebration. You know, you have people from all around the world dressed as different characters, different ages, and everybody’s happy and taking pictures together. That’s what it feels like for us and that’s what we want to try to capture with the show.

Father Son Galaxy podcast: The Mandalorian has been praised for its ability to tell a story that resonates with audiences on a very deep level. So if art is a form of a mirror, what do you think Din Djarin’s character reflects back to us about ourselves and our society?

DF: For me, I can only speak personally, what appealed to me about Mando from the beginning was that he’s somebody that’s very protected. He’s inside armor. And while that armor gives him a benefit, it also has him, I thought, incredibly closed off. And I think that we feel that way. We put on our armor a lot these days. Everything feels very combative and the world outside maybe doesn’t feel as friendly to us. And so we’re armored up. But the significant thing for Mando is that, when he meets Grogu, that all changes. It’s small things at first and it becomes simple kindness as I’m protecting him. Why? Because he’s worth money. But then he ends up protecting him because it is the right thing to do.

And so I think that Mando as a character is reflecting this armor. But we have to ask ourselves, what does that armor really mean? What is its value? It is his face. But when he finally takes the helmet off and Grogu who sees his face, and he touches his face at the end of Season Two, it becomes something more. It becomes I’m showing you my true face, my true self. I’m allowing itself to be vulnerable. So I think that those are the things that really appealed to me about Mando, and it’s allowing us maybe to take our own helmet off and be more visible to people. That’s the way I read it. I don’t know if you feel that way, but there you go.

Full of Sith podcast: The question I’ve got and I’m sure, Dave, you’ve fielded a lot of these cinematic influences [questions]. There’s definitely a lot of Lone Wolf and Cub in the choice Luke gives Grogu. But John, you mentioned in an interview Paper Moon and I went back and rewatched it again, and that movie’s so good. And it hit me right between the eyes. And I’m wondering if you could, if you both kind of speak to the conversations about your influences in this in this coming season and stuff that might be surprising, like, like Paper Moon.

JF: I think some of it just is, you know, the writing process and filmmaking process, but especially the writing process, is not really a conscious one for me. We do a lot of discussion about very much a conscious set of decisions about the broad strokes of where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do. But when you’re actually letting the characters talk to each other and the story’s unfolding, if you’re doing a good job writing, you don’t always know what’s going to happen next.

Your subconscious is really a product of all your influences. And Paper Moon was a very strong influence on me, and a lot of movies at that time period. I’m now in my, you know, I’m 56. I think, yeah, I think I’m 56. At my age, you start to lose track of the years, but late fifties. I grew up with the Bad News Bears and I grew up with Paper Moon. Films like that had, you know, there were such interesting relationships of misfits who feel like they don’t belong anywhere. But these family relationships emerge. And then the family relationships are often stronger than the bloodline relationships. And that’s certainly a hallmark of Star Wars. Families develop around these characters that are spending time together and bonds are forming and people are changing who they are based on the experiences that they have together.

Look at the arc of Han Solo in the first film, somebody who seems to be very selfish. And I think that that progression from selfishness to living for something and sacrificing for people or something bigger than yourself, is very much a part of Star Wars. But the Hero’s Journey and everything that George learned from Joseph Campbell as well we are communal species, a cooperative species, and we are rewarded in the throe of history for when we act in that way, when we think about things that are more important than just our own individual needs.

And so Paper Moon is such a wonderful film because you think it’s all about transporting this character to their living relative after their mother passes away. And then we figure out — it’s a bit ambiguous, but it’s suggested that maybe she and she was actually his daughter. What’s interesting, because the actors are actually father and daughter. But the idea that when she finally gets delivered to where she belongs, you realize, no. That journey is what reinforced it. That bond was what was important for both of them. And so the unexpected twist of her leaving behind this cushy life that she could have had, and going and being a con artist with Ryan O’Neal, I find that unexpected and fulfilling and really satisfying ending. And it’s just a beautiful movie.

And so as you point out, we do find influences in cinema stylistically, but also story wise because great stories have been told before. And Star Wars is a wonderful way to encapsulate a lot of what came before and serve it up to a new generation in a slightly different context.

Coffee with Kenobi podcast: This is the question I asked my mythology students, and I’m excited to see what the two of you think about this. I want to see if you can talk about the symbolism of Din Djarin initially struggling with wielding the Darksaber in The Book of Boba Fett.

JF: That’s a great question. I’m glad you caught that, you know, because on the one hand, you’re super excited because — Look, as the first person who ever wielded the Darksaber —

DF: Oh boy. Here we go.

JF: — as Pre Viszla. Originally when I recorded the voice of [Pre Vizsla in The Clone Wars, he wielded] a vibro blade. And when George had seen that cut together, I found out from Dave — because I got called back into the recording booth — that, no, the vibroblade can’t block another lightsaber. And he created this lore around the Darksaber that was stolen from a Jedi temple and the idea of Tarre Vizsla, somebody who was a Jedi and the Mandalorian. And I remember, I got to go back and record this. I told my wife what I was doing, I got to go back, I got to do it again. She was like, “George is right. That’s super cool.” And she was right.

It ended up being this compelling image of what this thing is. But then also I got my clues from [Star Wars] Rebels where, when Sabine was learning to wield it, it was heavy to her. And the sense that, it’s almost like the teachings in martial arts — you can’t you can’t grab water, you have to cup your hands. It’s not something you can control. You have to flow with it. And the Mandalorian, somebody who probably doesn’t have a lot of Force abilities and doesn’t have any training in it, and who is great at every other weapon. This thing is heavy. You notice when Paz Vizsla picks up the Darksaber to use it, it ends up being the thing that probably loses the battle for him in The Book of Boba Fett. That he’s even stronger, but it’s even heavier to him.

And so that whole Excalibur sword in the stone, if it’s yours, if you’re fated to do this. So there’s something larger that’s allowing you to wield these things and they become mythic or symbolic metaphors for whether this is your destiny and if you’re trying to force something. So, you know, the strongest knights in the land could not budge the sword and pull it from the stone.

And you want to fill in the rest of that?

DF: No, it’s all very good. Yeah. I mean, you did wield the sword so you do know. It’s a matter of, when you’re wielding a weapon like that, it is a lot of what’s in your mind and in your heart more than your physical prowess. And I think that that is what Kanan was trying to teach Sabine [in Star Wars Rebels]. She’s a great warrior, but she’s not balanced in her mind. All of her struggles with her family are preventing her from growing, are preventing her from being balanced in her body. And so, you know, with the Mando he comes into this thing the right way, because he doesn’t really even want it. But that lack of wanting it is almost like a lack of responsibility.

It’s saying that, well’ why don’t you value it? And how can you wield it if you don’t really even value it?

JF: It’s also cool when he hurts himself. He’s using it. He’s like limping around. I always thought about that, like a lightsaber, if you don’t know how to use it, it’s not a good — it always amazed me that they weren’t hurting themselves more.

DF: Well, I think a lot of people did. You just didn’t hear about them, because if you hurt yourself, you’re not in the story.

Here’s the other thing about a lightsaber. By any definition of the world they live in, it’s a really old weapon. Like a samurai is an incredibly well-trained warrior, and that seems great. And they’re highly effective and they’re very smart and they have a way of being. And then rifles come around. And when you see The Seven Samurai, you see how just how difficult it is for these incredibly skilled warriors with a philosophy and a way of life.

But they just get thoughtlessly taken out by someone with a rifle. And so it’s up to Kyuzo to go in and take out as many as he can. And it’s dangerous because technology is overcoming what skill and discipline has given them. And that becomes a quick and easy path to power. Right? Is now we have a weapon, a blaster that can just, take down a Jedi. So now we have more people with more blasters. It is an old, elegant thing to wield a lightsaber. And it takes a tremendous amount of training and discipline to wield it. You just can’t pick it up and use it. So all of that then fits in with George’s philosophy about the Force itself, which is, yes, we are all part of the Force, we are all connected, we all have it. But it takes a great deal of training and discipline to understand how to wield it. And very few people have that discipline. In our own world we see that. It’s so hard to be disciplined to do things that are good for us physically, mind, body, spirit. So it’s true in the Star Wars universe as well.

JF: Great talking to you. Hopefully we’ll see a Celebration.

DF: Yeah, hopefully Celebration. Such great questions. Always great questions.




Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star Wars, fandom, and the intersection of women within Star Wars fandom. She is co-author of Ultimate Star Wars and Star Wars Visual Encyclopedia from DK Publishing, a featured writer for Star Wars Insider magazine with numerous articles on the Hero's Journey. Her FANgirl opinions can be heard on the podcasts Hyperspace Theories and Fangirls Going Rogue. Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to