behind the scenes

So, Who’s Really Under the Mandalorian’s Helmet?

Brendan Wayne, who doubles for Pedro Pascal, saw the Mandalorian star on set “frequently,” and the two of them worked together to develop the character’s onscreen movements. Photo: Disney+

Ask Bryce Dallas Howard about working with Pedro Pascal on the set of The Mandalorian and she can’t say much. Because it didn’t happen.

“He was in rehearsals for King Lear on Broadway. And so, while we were doing my episode, I wasn’t working with Pedro,” she told Vulture about the making of “Sanctuary,” her TV directing debut.

Instead, beneath the Mandalorian armor during production were stunt doubles and stand-ins. The episode credits list two men — Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder — as “Double - The Mandalorian.” Howard says she predominantly worked with Wayne. “He absolutely just brought everything to that character, and we were able to find the moments and figure them out together,” she said.

Wayne, the grandson of legendary star John Wayne, has been acting since 2001, making appearances in shows including Angel, CSI, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (The Mandalorian isn’t even his first sci-fi Western, as he was also in 2011’s Cowboys & Aliens, directed by Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau.) While his IMDb listing alternates between crediting him as a double versus a stunt double on The Mandalorian, he and Crowder (whose own additional IMDb credits include years of work as a stunt performer) have been listed in the show’s credits since the first episode.

Wayne told Vulture that he worked on every episode of The Mandalorian’s first season and, as of last week, was also going to work on season two. Brought in under a shroud of mystery, Wayne said that he saw Pascal on set “frequently,” and the two of them worked together to develop the character’s onscreen movements.

“[Pascal] would ask me, and I would ask him the same question, which is, ‘Why did you move like this during that moment?’ We would go back and forth,” Wayne said. “The great thing about him is he’s not impressed with himself. He’s just an actor. And I mean that in the good way, not the bad way. He likes to learn and he likes to collaborate and he’s very good at it.”

The use of stunt doubles and other performers on sets is a decades-old filmmaking tradition that’s only gotten more sophisticated with the advent of CGI. And this is hardly the first time Star Wars as a franchise has redubbed characters in postproduction: James Earl Jones, after all, never wore the Darth Vader helmet during the production of the original trilogy. He wasn’t even originally credited for his voice work on A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

Howard compared the situation to her experience playing theme-park exec turned dino advocate Claire Dearing in the stunt-heavy Jurassic World films. “When I play Claire, there’s the Claire who’s a great driver, and then there’s the Claire who’s a really great runner, and then there’s the Claire who can, you know, get dropped off something.”

You do, however, see Howard’s face onscreen during those Jurassic films. Meanwhile, in The Mandalorian, Howard noted that the voice performance is 100 percent Pascal, recorded after the fact. The character we see onscreen, from her perspective, is “a real collaboration.”

“Everyone is really figuring out together, Who is this character? What are these moments? What’s the movement like? What’s the energy like and the rhythm like? So that there was that consistency,” she explained.

The end result: a character so mysterious, you can’t even be sure who’s playing him.

Vulture has reached out to Disney and representatives for Pascal for comment.

So, Who’s Really Under the Mandalorian’s Helmet?