‘The Mandalorian’ EP Rick Famuyiwa on His Expanded Role for Season 3: ‘I Was a Part of Helping to Shape the Season’

TheWrap also spoke with the writer about his experience directing three episodes airing this year


If you already watched the Season 3 premiere of “The Mandalorian,” you might have spotted a familiar name. No, not IG-11 or Cara Dune. We’re referring, of course, to Rick Famuyiwa, who directed the premiere episode and the last two installments of the latest season.

Famuyiwa has always been an integral part of the universe of “The Mandalorian” — he directed the action-packed episode in Season 2 where The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) uses Bill Burr’s rascally criminal to find the coordinates to Moff Gideon’s (Giancarlo Esposito) ship. He also directed the second episode of the series, where the Mandalorian has to retrieve a weird egg for a bunch of Jawas, which remains one of the show’s biggest highlights.

“It was interesting because I met with Jon [Favreau, the series creator] and he was telling me about this story he was building, this world around The Mandalorian and asked me if I was interested in coming on board, which of course I was like, ‘Hell yeah, let’s do this,’” Famuyiwa recalled in an interview with TheWrap. “Then he tells me, ‘Yeah, I want you to do the second episode,’ which was like, whoa … I didn’t expect that. I was excited that I would be right out of the bat directing an episode. But then when he turned it into me, it was like 15 pages.”

Still, Famuyiwa stresses that the script was so short not because of a lack of nuance or detail; it was because the episode is very nearly wordless. (It honestly has more in common with an episode of Genndy Tartakovsky’s “Clone Wars” micro-shorts than it does with any live-action parcel of the “Star Wars” galaxy.)

“You had this character on this planet trying to get back this bounty and this child who couldn’t speak. It was [about] how you were going to develop this relationship visually, without necessarily having a ton of dialogue or an active plot going on. Part of it was exciting, but also daunting,” Famuyiwa said. “For me, there was an opportunity to really get back to the basics of what we do as filmmakers, which is tell stories visually with film and with the camera, and not necessarily have the ability to explain it with dialogue. I was excited by that idea that much of the first half of the show, there’s not a word spoken between any of the characters. I loved being able to dig into, ‘what are the moments that could make this work?’”

Famuyiwa’s approach also helped address some of the other issues with “The Mandalorian” and set the table for what would come after his episode, from filmmakers like Peyton Reed, Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Rodriguez.

“It also helped deal with the other issue, which was that you had a character who couldn’t take off his helmet, and you couldn’t see their face, and another character that’s a puppet,” Famuyiwa said. “Not having to do something that was heavily dialogue-driven or where you would want to or have to necessarily see all the expressions on a character’s face, the storytelling can be built with these moments that were happening between the two characters and how those moments gave us clues into who they were. The restraint of that really helped, I think, define and had me really lean in as a storyteller. I think for the audience, people were so perceptive about every little move that it added a sense of complexity that I don’t think we would’ve been able to achieve had it been them talking with each other for the first two hours.”

Season 3 of “The Mandalorian” brought a new title for Famuyiwa: executive producer. “I was a part of really helping to shape the season. I think it’s been a natural continuation of the process that I’ve had with Jon and Dave [Filoni] from the very beginning, because Jon was so collaborative in terms of how he works, that he was really very, from the moment one, open to my ideas,” Famuyiwa said.

Famuyiwa said that he had a hand in writing the first two seasons, which gave him a “window inside the process and inside [Favreau’s] mind as he’s been putting this stuff together.” As season 3 was coming together, with what Famuyiwa describes as an expanded “scale and scope,” along with the acknowledgment that Filoni would be working on “The Mandalorian” spinoff “Ahsoka” at the same time, it was time for Famuyiwa to swoop in and lend a hand (without a jetpack).

“Having someone also be there with Jon, that was there from the beginning, and could understand everything and what we were trying to accomplish was important to him,” Famuyiwa said. “I was excited to be a part of that process. But again, it felt more like an expansion and didn’t necessarily feel like a brand-new thing. It just was expanded upon what I’d been doing before.”

“The Mandalorian” streams new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.