Taika Waititi on the “Particularly Stressful” Challenge of Directing Star Wars: The Mandalorian Season Finale

First time Star Wars director Taika Waititi, who helmed the action-packed first season finale of [...]

First time Star Wars director Taika Waititi, who helmed the action-packed first season finale of The Mandalorian, admits it was "particularly stressful" unmasking armored bounty hunter Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) amid an explosive standoff with a legion of Imperial forces. In "Chapter 8: Redemption," Djarin and allies Cara Dune (Gina Carano), Greef Karga (Carl Weathers), and reprogrammed assassin droid IG-11 (voice of Waititi) engage in a standoff with Stormtroopers and Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), who is out to capture the Force-sensitive foundling referred to as Baby Yoda. It's there that a head injury forces IG-11 to remove the Mandalorian's helmet, revealing Djarin's true face for the first time.

"That was a particularly stressful day," Waititi recalled during a pre-recorded video panel for the ATX Festival. "I remember there were the Stormtroopers all over the place, we were trying to have the place on fire, or look like it was on fire. There were so many characters and so many things that were happening all at once in that particular moment."

On exposing Djarin's bare face, Waititi was "just more stressed out about actually getting something on camera than how this was actually gonna play out."

"I knew it was supposed to be an emotional moment and I really loved the writing around IG-11, how he says 'I'm not a living thing,'" Waititi added of his droid character, who ultimately self-destructs in "Redemption" when his crew are ambushed by the enemy. "It really struck me for that moment, that we hadn't seen the main character's face this entire time. And you're managing to create and establish an emotional bond between this character and the baby, and maybe that is actually what makes it so great and such an achievement, is to be able to believe in their relationship and to believe that this character cares for this baby."

Waititi credits the development of that bond, forged across the preceding seven episodes, to directors Dave Filoni, Deborah Chow, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Rick Famuyiwa.

"When I came along for that final episode, those relationships were already there, and everyone was already in love with the baby, and there was already a relationship with the baby on set that I had to learn," Waititi said. "And it was very fast for me to fall in love with The Child."

Filoni and Famuyiwa return as directors for The Mandalorian Season 2, premiering on Disney+ in October, alongside first-time series directors Weathers, Peyton Reed, Robert Rodriguez, and series creator Jon Favreau.

Waititi next returns to the Star Wars universe as director on an untitled feature film planned for theatrical release. The first season of The Mandalorian is now streaming on Disney+.