vulture bets on berry

Cast Matt Berry in The Mandalorian, You Cowards

Hello, dealer? Yes, please, put it all on Berry. Illustration: by Carolyn Figel

These are hard times, and when things get really dark, we at Vulture like to double down on the things that are still capable of bringing us happiness. That’s why we’re running this recurring column, which serves as half-celebration and half-brainstorm for someone we’re consistently delighted to see show up on our screens: beloved British performer of stage and screen, Matt Berry. He’s best known for shows like Toast of London, The IT Crowd, and What We Do in the Shadows, but we’re confident that a performance by Matt Berry would spruce up all sorts of film and TV stories, big and small. 

So a few times a month, we’ll be using this space to propose new, occasionally out-of-the-box opportunities or roles for Mr. Berry. We are confident that should he ever find this column, he will find it both confusing and mortifying.

Matt Berry should be absorbed into the Star Wars universe, via The Mandalorian on Disney+. This is not only something that we would enjoy, it’s also legally required at this point in his career: Every accomplished British actor must, as a formal recognition of their celebrity, be presented to American audiences via a Harry Potter, a Game of Throne, or a Star War. Since two of those are no longer much of an option, The Mandalorian is the obvious choice and moral imperative.

Berry’s performances embody a playful gravitas that makes him a perfect fit for the Star Wars universe: a place where very serious things happen in a way that can still be fun for kids. And while Berry has rarely delivered performances entirely suitable for children, The Mandalorian offers a rougher, decidedly more mature post-Empire galaxy that has more in common with the Wild West than either the democratic republic of the prequels or Palpatine’s fascist theocracy. It’s also as expansive as the Star Wars universe has ever been and clearly comfortable adding our favorite comedians as guest stars, including longtime Berry collaborators Richard Ayoade and Taika Waititi. So not only is his addition possible, his omission is almost glaring.

It shouldn’t even be up for debate whether Berry has the range to play the kind of weathered space veteran that would exist in The Mandalorian. For one thing, he’s already fought Luke Skywalker and acted opposite Rey. But as this is real, serious journalism, we must provide you with a firmer proof of concept. So here is Berry in one of his most recent roles, from Year of the Rabbit, as Detective Inspector Rabbit, a gruff, world-weary police officer in Victorian London who rocks a distinctive facial scar that, for all we know, could’ve come from a lightsaber (though in this show it’s from a dog biting off his eyebrow last Christmas):

But really, Berry should be in The Mandalorian because it would just be really, really fun. Imagine, if you will, a character with a name like Fandango Purchase or Gonville Clem (real ones will know). An ex-Imperial whose days of pushing buttons on a Star Destroyer are far behind him, he now runs a seedy hotel in the underbelly of Coruscant. He’s a former military man jaded by defeat in the tradition of Bill Burr’s Mayfeld, perhaps with a Monsieur Thénardier twist, now perfectly content to while away his time scamming local travelers for sabacc money. Unlike Amy Sedaris’s warm and silly Peli Motto, we’d need Berry to absolutely hate Baby Yoda, at least at first. “What the bloody blazes is that?!” he would bellow before trying to kill Baby Yoda with a broom or something. Of course, he’d eventually warm up to what he would refer to as “the crea-tureehhhhh,” perhaps once it provides a solution to the hotel’s pest problem? (I also have thoughts, depending on where season two ends up, about Berry’s character actually knowing where the Jedi are, because they owe him a “fuck ton of credits and a new datapad, those magic bastards.”) Anyway, there you go. There’s Matt Berry in The Mandalorian, see? Easy.

Finally, Berry’s time to enter the Star Wars galaxy is now, when it feels urgently necessary to deconstruct the particular brand of British thespianism the epic is rooted in. Peter Cushing’s old-school U.K. repertory-theater background informed the first depiction of a Star Wars Imperial that was so iconic, they posthumously CGI’d the man into Rogue One. It’s a legacy that continued on in Domhnall Gleeson’s General Armitage Hux, but this type of high-status performance has yet to find a home in The Mandalorian’s decidedly grittier universe. And no one is more qualified to represent this than Berry, who is on record crediting this style of British theater acting for inspiring the full-bodied and overly flourished voice he regularly performs with (see: the pronunciations of “sexual” and “Arizona” in What We Do in the Shadows, and everything Stephen Toast has ever said). Berry’s performance could show us what becomes of the classic Star Wars bad guy who has no more battle cruisers on which to deliver ruthless commands in Received Pronunciation.

In summation, there is no reason for Matt Berry to not be in The Mandalorian. It’s an obvious choice! We need this, Baby Yoda needs this, Star Wars needs this, and Matt Berry probably doesn’t think he needs this, but I bet he’d do it if Disney paid him enough.

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Cast Matt Berry in The Mandalorian, You Cowards