'The Mandalorian's Katee Sackhoff on Bo-Katan — & Working With Baby Yoda

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Q&A
Disney+/Lucasfilm
Disney+/Lucasfilm

Star Wars fans are having a fantastic season of The Mandalorian.

Not only have they seen Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), Anakin Skywalker’s padawan learner, make the jump to live action, they got to witness Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff), Mandalore’s badass leader with a checkered past, in the flesh. And played by her original voice actor, no less.

We chat with Sackhoff about what she focused on in translating Bo-Katan from animation to The Mandalorian, what her character really thinks about Din Jarren (Pedro Pascal) and his connection to Death Watch, and whether Baby Yoda even possesses an angry face.

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How — and when — did you learn you’d be playing Bo-Katan in live action?

I think that it was sometime last year, in the summer, after Celebration. I can tell you that it was probably one of the most surreal moments of my life. I was sitting across from Jon Favreau, who I’ve been a fan of for so long, and I was listening to him talk about Bo-Katan, and I think it took me about halfway through the meeting to realize he was actually talking about me doing this. I was just blown away, and I still am.

What aspect of her character did you most want to translate to live action?

I really wanted to make sure that, for the fans of Clone Wars and Rebels, she felt comfortable and familiar, and it looked like she was pulled from the animation. This is a character that’s been established for many years and fans really love her, so I wanted to make sure she had little things — like her freckles, and the scar on her forehead. I wanted to make sure her eyebrows pointed down the way they do in the animation, and her hair was red. All of those things, you take the animation as inspiration, but you then have to figure out how to translate those things into live action so they don’t look cartoonish, which was a challenge.

mandalorian bo katan katee sackhoff pedro pascal

Disney+/Lucasfilm

What does the character think about Din Jarren, given her own history with Death Watch? Is there any empathy there?

I think so. I absolutely think she understands how he is the way he is, and why he is the way he is. I think she completely understands that being a Child of the Watch is something that was out of his control, and it’s not his fault. It’s just a different way of thinking. Beyond that, we’ll just have to see, you know?

I know you’ve talked about working with Bryce Dallas Howard, but I want to ask — what was it like working with Baby Yoda?

[Laughs] That’s, like, the best thing that’s ever happened to me, by the way. That’s the only question people keep asking me, “Did you work with Baby?” I loved it. There was a scene where he was sitting next to me, and I realized he’s very responsive. I’m talking to him between takes, and all of a sudden he starts responding. I’m like, “Oh my god, what’s happening?” And I realized all the controllers could hear me talking to Baby, and they started letting him react to me.

Baby and I had this entire conversation about his “angry face.” I wanted to see if he could look angry, because he looks cute all the time, and he really struggled, but he finally got angry. He looked like a gremlin! Do not get water on him. Do not feed him after midnight. I was like, “Holy crap, Baby got angry!” and I was dying laughing.

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Disney+/Lucasfilm

But you know, you have this emotional reaction to him like you do a dog, because he’s reacting to you. I’m having an emotional reaction when I talk to Baby. It makes me feel like such a dork, by the way, but I love every second of it.

Which scene from the Clone Wars or Rebels would you choose to do live action?

Oh! I want to do the scene where Bo finds out that her sister has been killed, and she has to get Obi-Wan out of there. To me as an actor, that internal struggle, to have to get out of there when you know your sister is gone — I want to play that. I want to know what her reaction was, because the next time we see her, we see her fighting for what she believes in, but in that moment she knows her sister is gone. As an actor, I think it would be so cool.

Sci-fi fans also know as you as Niko Breckenridge in Another Life, they know you as Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica. Do you think Bo-Katan has anything in common with those characters?

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I think so. I think every character that I play seems to be a reluctant leader to a certain extent. There is a vulnerability to all of them that makes them good leaders. Starbuck was so angsty and young. She was probably closer to who Bo-Katan was when we first met her. And I think Niko is closer to who she is now, and I think that’s because of who I am. I’m no longer a 21 year old, thank god! [Laughs] But I think they have those similarities. To be a woman in a power position takes a lot of sacrifice.

The Mandalorian, Fridays, Disney+