‘The Mandalorian’ EP Teases How the ‘Star Wars’ Spinoffs Could All Come Together: ‘A Big Event in This Time Period Is Very Real’

Dave Filoni also shares some of what’s ahead for Season 3

Executive Producer Dave Filoni attends the Mandalorian special launch event at El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 28, 2023
Jesse Grant/Getty Images

“The Mandalorian” is (finally) back for a third season. But what lies ahead?

Well, Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and his unlikely companion Grogu (aka Baby Yoda), are still traversing around the galaxy. Currently, the Mandalorian is on a quest to redeem himself in the eyes of his elders, who disowned him after he took off his helmet. It feels like the world of “The Mandalorian” is getting bigger and more dangerous, so there’s no telling what the masked man and his little cohort will face this season.

But if there’s one man who knows what lies ahead, it’s Dave Filoni, executive producer and writer on the show. He helps steer the show’s creative vision with creator Jon Favreau. A veteran of earlier animated projects at Lucasfilm (back when it was still owned by George Lucas), Filoni is in many ways the keeper of the “Star Wars” flame, and his vast knowledge and understanding of both characters and their thematic underpinnings have been key to the continued success of the franchise on television.

TheWrap spoke to Filoni about the new season of “The Mandalorian,” his interest in turning his animated characters into live-action favorites and whether or not the series and “Star Wars” spinoffs like “Ahsoka” will actually culminate in a big event (as was teased by Kathleen Kennedy in 2020).

Going into “The Mandalorian” Season 3, what were the key objectives for you?

This story by definition is “The Mandalorian” and speaks to that part of the “Star Wars” saga that we’re now telling specifically about Din Djarin and Grogu. But they’ve pulled into their orbit many other Mandalorian characters, namely Katee Sackhoff’s Bo Katan. You have the armor. And I think that it starts to raise a lot of questions about The Way and what is The Way. And when they speak vaguely about their home planet of Mandalore, which was basically lost and really destroyed in the war with the Empire – is there any chance of rectifying that, reclaiming that? And what does that mean for our lead character Mando? What does that mean for Grogu now that Grogu’s chosen to be with Mando instead of following Luke in the path of the Jedi? What are all these little signs and tea leaves saying to us in our “Star Wars” galaxy?

Jon is the one that brought the idea to Lucasfilm. And I’ve been there shepherding it with him. He would disagree with this, but I always see it as his story and I’m helping to aid him through as George guided me in “The Clone Wars.” I think he’s just done an amazing job – he always does – with the writing and with his ideas.

How often are you thinking: “How can I get my cartoon characters into live-action?

Very rarely. I know people think it’s the other way around, which is fascinating to me, but I think there’s two ways to look at that, which is that, yes, they were animated characters, but to me they’re just characters. And now I’m over here working in live-action. I’m comfortable with those characters, I know them, I like them and I like to see them around.

But also, it changes when they’re suddenly in a different medium. Katee’s talked about it a little bit, and the difference between performing Bo Katan as a voice actor versus performing her physically and being present on set as her – it’s a different vibe. I’m always cautious. And Jon and I talk about who will we bring in? I try to do it when it makes the most sense.

When we needed a gunslinger to go up against some of our characters in “Book of Boba Fett,” Cad Bane’s name came up. I think looking at that, the first thing I think is, “Well, how do we do that and make it believable?” Like the character, he’s so lean and gaunt in “The Clone Wars.” And if we don’t do that, is it all CG? How are we going to portray that? If we don’t think we can do that effectively, then we shouldn’t do it.

At the end of the day, I’ve been very happy with the ones that have gone over. There may or may not be more in “Ahsoka,” if that’s your thing. If you’re excited about that, I’m just saying that one might have a few more, which makes sense, by the way. As you know, I wrote it. You can’t fault me there.

Kathy Kennedy said in 2020 that the series would “culminate in a climactic story event.” But more recently, Jon has said “The Mandalorian” could go on forever. Are you building towards “a climactic story event,” or has that been put aside?

Well, from a certain point of view, it could. It could build to a climactic thing and “The Mandalorian” could still go on. It’s not necessarily an either/or, is it?

It’s an interesting way to think about it. I tend to think, as we’ve been working on the “The Mandalorian” and then writing “Ahsoka,” and then Jon Watts came in with “Skeleton Crew,” there is an entire time period that is post-“Return of the Jedi.” And I look at that time period, which before “The Force Awakens,” is around 30 years of time. When you look at the original trilogy, it’s a much less significant amount of time that those three movies take place in. And so, what I like is that we’re really building very slowly an ecosystem of characters and politics and events in the post-“Return of the Jedi” time period. And that may or may not expand in a bigger way as we add more shows to it and add more characters to it.

The good thing is that we’re all talking creatively together about where these stories are all going. And I love whiteboards, and I whiteboard everything and have timelines. They always start back with “The Phantom Menace” and they always go out to “The Rise of Skywalker.” I have all these slots in between and where everybody’s doing everything, so I can look at it all and commiserate with Kathy on what’s going on here, what’s going on there? It’s very fun.

I think that the reality of there being a big event in this time period is very real, is all I would say to that. But yes, if Jon wanted to keep making “Mandalorian” stories, as long as he does not get bumped off in said titanic event, then they, I suppose, could continue. There doesn’t seem to be any lack of interest in Grogu and Mando, that’s for sure.

New episodes of “The Mandalorian” stream every Wednesday on Disney+.