Despite being the canon face of Boba Fett since 2002’s Attack Of The Clones, The Mandalorian is the first time Temuera Morrison has played the character beyond video game voice roles and a few dubbed lines in the original trilogy. Now that his triumphant debut has been made, the New Zealand actor has talked about the role in an interview with the New York Times.
From the beginning, Morrison said, there was never any certainty that he would reprise the role–though without his familiar face, the character’s cameo at the end of Season 2’s first episode wouldn’t have had such instant recognition. “My agent and I had a number of discussions–when are they going to call me?” he said. “But then I kept forgetting about it. In this day and age, they have a number of options. They could have called other people to play the part. They can go with a fresh face. They could have called the Rock. I felt so grateful that after all this time, something came to be.”
When that call did come, Morrison was brought in for a meeting with series creator Jon Favreau and executive producer Dave Filoni, where the two ran him through their vision for the character. “I actually got to the meeting quite early–I was so excited I got there about two hours early–and there were conceptual drawings on the wall,” Morrison said. “I saw an image that looked like me, and I said, I’m sure that’s me. But even then, I didn’t want to get too excited… I was just listening–I wasn’t discussing anything. I’m just nodding, going, yes, yes. Obviously they had their ideas about what they wanted to do, and they must have told me that they wanted me to play the role again. But I was so nervous that some of it was just going straight over my head.”
Despite the whirlwind of the initial meeting, Morrison did get to add his own unique stamp to the character. “I come from the Maori nation of New Zealand, the Indigenous people–we’re the Down Under Polynesians–and I wanted to bring that kind of spirit and energy, which we call wairua,” he explained. “I’ve been trained in my cultural dance, which we call the haka. I’ve also been trained in some of our weapons, so that’s how I was able to manipulate some of the weapons in my fight scenes and work with the gaffi stick, which my character has.”
Unfortunately for fans who want to know more about Boba’s encounter with the Sarlacc pit–and more importantly, how he escaped it–Temuera Morrison doesn’t have the answers. “I’m not one of those guys that knows too much about the actual history,” he explained. “The fans of Star Wars, they have better knowledge of, ‘What’s happened? How can he still be alive? I thought he was stuck in this place?’ I can find out more on the internet.”
The interview ends with Morrison talking about his most famous co-star–Baby Yoda, newly officially named Grogu. “Baby Yoda’s probably the biggest actor in Hollywood at the moment,” Morrison said. “But I never got to work with him very closely or with the people who move him around…. But hopefully I’ll get to meet him and we can have a little bonding session.”