Ewan McGregor and Pedro Pascal are finding out they have a lot in common in Variety‘s latest “Actors on Actors” discussion.
The two actors — both a part of the “Star Wars” universe — bond over the shared experiences that come with filming a Disney+ series and getting up close and personal with not just Yoda, but Grogu, a.k.a. the scene-stealing Baby Yoda.
“I just came directly from our set on the ‘Kenobi’ series, and I’m working with so many of your crew from ‘The Mandalorian’. In fact, Deborah Chow is directing all of our series, and I know she directed episodes of your first season,” McGregor says, kicking off their conversation. “I’m having such an amazing time down there with that incredible technology, and not being in front of too much green screen and blue screen.”
Likening the green screen experience to an “amusement park ride,” Pascal says filming a “Star Wars” series is “unbelievable.”
“You would think that you would have to really invent all of it in your mind, but more than any set I’ve ever been on, it’s there and meticulously created in the production design,” he says.
McGregor recalls the shift to green-screen technology while making the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy: “I did the first three films in the late ’90s and into the 2000s, and by the time you did ‘Episode 2’ and ‘3’, literally 90 per cent of the scenes were just on green sets with green floors and green walls, or a blue set with blue sides and blue walls.”
While McGregor says he’s “excited” about new technology because now that productions “can invent stuff, interiors or exteriors that don’t exist in the real world, and put us into that environment”, he feels the need for constant travel as an actor is now unnecessary. “I mean, travelling has been great for the first 30 years of my career, but now I just want to stay at home. I just want to drive to work and drive home from work,” he adds.
Though he might not want to leave the house, the Scottish actor has high praise for Pascal’s “The Mandalorian”.
“It pulled me back into the ‘Star Wars’ world, the ‘Mandalorian’ series, in a way I didn’t expect. It blew me away how much I loved it,” he says. And, like all fans of “The Mandalorian”, McGregor is a big fan of Grogu, a character Pascal had to keep a secret until his appearance.
“That may literally be the very first secret that I’ve ever kept,” Pascal jokes. “Don’t share anything personal with me! But there’s so much seriousness around leaked information, and I find it all just a bit too much. I tell my family everything, and I didn’t with Grogu. I didn’t even know what his name was going to be until the second season, but I could just tell that it was going to have such an impact. When I saw the image of this thing, and started reading the scripts and everything, I didn’t want to compromise that in any way. It was easy to not talk about it because it was like, ‘Nah, I want this to work.'”
Pascal continues: “I don’t give away too many secrets about how it works, but there are these incredible puppets, and one can be done remotely that is more conducive to wider shots. And then there’s one that’s very, very plugged in, and its eyeballs are moving around, its eyebrows are moving — it’s all of the sort of like muscular details of its face and ears and everything. And these guys are so talented, and they get the puppet to sort of act with you in the scene.”
Having worked with the OG Yoda in the prequel trilogy, McGregor says he was “lucky to do my scenes with the Yoda puppet. And it was extraordinary, because I acted with him. I couldn’t believe I was acting with Yoda.
“Then they replaced him for our second film and our third film with the digital version of him, and it’s not nearly as endearing,” he says. “Also, we know Yoda as a puppet. We know him from the original movies as a puppet. So when it was suddenly computer-generated, it didn’t feel like Yoda to me anymore. It was interesting that it went back to an actual puppet with your series.”