How Moff Gideon Actor Giancarlo Esposito Taunted Grogu on the Set of The Mandalorian

Giancarlo Esposito reveals how he menaced Grogu, a.k.a. Baby Yoda, before filming scenes with the puppet in season 2 of The Mandalorian. In "Chapter 14" of the Star Wars series, "The Tragedy," Gideon's squad of droid Dark Troopers successfully abduct the Force-sensitive foundling despite the best efforts of Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), and Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison). After intimidating the 50-year-old Child with the glowing black blade of the Darksaber, Gideon turns his weapon against the Mandalorian — only to be defeated and disarmed by Djarin's near-indestructible staff made of pure beskar in "Chapter 16: The Rescue."

Esposito recited his "pregame speech" to Grogu in an interview with Esquire, said to the big-eared puppet aboard Gideon's Imperial light cruiser:

"Are you happy today? How are you feeling? Did you have any breakfast? Yes, because we have a long journey. I want you to get a lot of sleep. So I have prepared some very special sauce for you so that you can sleep while we travel. If there's anything you need, let me know. Do you play poker? I've got a deck of cards, too."

By the end of "The Rescue," Gideon is captured — failing to commit suicide in the process — and can do nothing but watch helplessly when a hooded stranger effortlessly destroys his battalion of all-black, red-eyed Dark Troopers. This mystery rescuer is (spoilers) the Jedi Master who Grogu reached out to on the planet Tython, just before he was taken: Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill / Max Lloyd Jones).

The showdown on the cruiser fulfills Esposito's promise that he would be going "toe-to-toe with Mando" in season 2, where Gideon tries and fails to turn him against Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) — who wants nothing more than to wield the Darksaber claimed in battle by Djarin, making him the rightful ruler of Mandalore.

"It's an iconic battle. I want to disarm him mentally as well," Esposito recently told Entertainment Weekly. "Who knows? Maybe there's an opportunity to get him to fight some battles for me. You may think I'm a villain, but I'm trying to harness some energy and some powers for a path that could be best for all. You'll get to see him be somewhat diplomatic and more of a manipulator."

Esposito returns for The Mandalorian Season 3, due out on Disney+ in December 2021, and hopes to appear elsewhere in the Star Wars galaxy by reprising his role in the Mandalorian spinoffs announced by Lucasfilm.

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