The Art of The Mandalorian (Season 1) is now on sale from Abrams Books. Following our exclusive look inside the book (written by Lucasfilm creative art manager Phil Szostak), we wanted to share a few more insights from the publication, which peels back the curtain on the live-action Star Wars series' debut season. A lot went into the Jon Favreau-created project, including a ton of scrapped ideas that helped pave the way for Mando's fashion sense and the character design for Baby Yoda.
Here are just a few things that we learned. This is the way...
Winter is coming...to the galaxy:
In the early stages of development, the design crew at Lucasfilm considered giving the titular character "a big Jon Snow cloak" inspired by HBO's Game of Thrones. The Viking look was good for ice planets, but they ultimately decided it didn't fit the character. "He's more like Anton Chigurh [from No Country for Old Men], in that he only brings what he needs," concept artist Brian Matyas explains in the book.
The evolution of Baby Yoda:
According to executive producer/writer/director, Dave Filoni, Baby Yoda (real name: Grogu) didn't start off as a near-helpless toddler. "He devolved into more of a baby, which is fine," he says. "But there was something about him ankle-biting that we liked." In terms of design for The Child, Lucasfilm went through a ton of different ideas until Favreau found the one he liked. He nixed an early piece of concept art that depicted Grogu as a regular human child with alien makeup and told concept supervisor Christian Alzmann that he wanted something on par with "a Dark Crystal/Henson-style puppet." For "Chapter 3: The Sin," Alzmann wanted to draw parallels between Baby Yoda and Steven Spielberg's E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial when Mando finds the Nazi-inspired Dr. Pershing (played by Omid Abtahi) conducting experiments on the youngling.
"I wanted to give him a pallor showing that he's obviously unwell, like finding E.T. in the riverbed, the dry salami look," he says.
When it was time to make The Mandalorian, Favreau already had two Disney remakes under his belt: The Jungle Book and The Lion King. Filoni paid homage to the latter in a sketch that showed Mando holding up Baby Yoda to the other Mandalorians in "a little riff on Simba from The Lion King for Jon." The director's other big claim to fame was kicking off the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2008's Iron Man, which he cites as a great primer for his foray into the world of Star Wars.
"Iron Man was very much influenced by Star Wars. And it taught me about the relationship with source material, that there is a way to honor the people who have been the fans, who know everything about it, and still invite new people in," he explains in the book.
Another Disney property that had a bearing on the TV show was Joe Johnston's The Rocketeer, a sort of forerunner to Iron Man. Per Matyas, the jetpack Din Djarin gets in the Season 1 finale was a mixture of the jetpacks owned by the Rocketeer and Boba Fett. It's rather fitting, as Johnston worked as a visual effects artist on the original trilogy.
Not the species you're looking for:
Certain characters didn't start off as humans. Before Carl Weathers was cast, Greef Karga was going to be a Weequay. Chiang recalls: We tried to adapt the mask to him. I believe it was like a week or two later, Jon was asking, 'Gosh, why are we hiring Carl if we're going to hide his face? No, let's just save that for another character and embrace Carl as Carl.'" The Weequay was eventually given to W. Earl Brown's Tatooine bartender in the Season 2 premiere.
Elsewhere, Amy Sedaris' character, Peli Motto, was "scripted as a three-eyed alien" before she became a loud-mouthed human mechanic, modeled after Danny DeVito's Louie De Palma from Taxi. Despite a gruff exterior, Motto (who was also envisioned as a kind old Polish grandmother) shows a softer side when she meets Baby Yoda and eventually proves herself to be a valuable ally to the titular bounty hunter.
"People like Peli Motto, who were just trying to live life on the Outer Rim, didn't have a lot of support and learned not to rely on anybody," Filoni says.
You're gonna need a bigger bar:
In the Season 1 premiere, the bar in which Mando apprehends Mythrol (Horatio Sanz) was inspired by Quint's shack in Spielberg's Jaws. "All the set dressing brought it to life, all the traps and nets and things," says co-producer/design supervisor/Lucasfilm VP/executive creative director.
The complete first season of the show is now available to stream on Disney+ along with Episodes 1-5 of Season 2.