With the official launch of Disney+, the first episode of The Mandalorian has made its way online and can be watched at any time by subscribers to the streaming service. Among the most surprising inclusions in the first ever live-action Star Wars series is one actor in its cast, Academy Award nominated director and documentarian Werner Herzog. In the series, Herzog plays a mysterious character known only as “The Client” for now, who enlists the help of the titular character to take part in a bounty hunt. Herzog's trademark dry voice and heavy German accent lend some gravitas to Star Wars verbage that might otherwise sound ridiculous, which is perhaps one reason why series creator Jon Favreau picked him for the role. Sadly for Favreau, Herzog had no idea what his credits were before appearing in the series, and he still doesn't.
Speaking with Variety, Herzog was interviewed about his work on the Star Wars series, revealing that he believed Favreau hired him for the series for two reasons: his other work as an actor and that his casting would serve as an homage to the various films of Herzog's career.
“I think it’s a bit of an homage to my films and to my storytelling and to my way of putting emphasis on world stories, fever dreams in the jungle, quasi-science fiction stories. I think he sees a kindred spirit in me,” Herzog said.
The eccentric filmmaker went on to talk about the process of filming his scenes, citing the tactile nature of filming it on real sets with minimal green screens.
“That’s Jon’s great achievement with The Mandalorian — is brought back to where it always has been,” Herzog said. “As an actor, you see where you are, the planet on which you’re moving, and the camera could even be on the shoulder of a cinematographer and move around, and that’s how filmmaking has been and should be. As an actor, I knew it immediately this was good stuff. You feel it when the camera doesn’t have to be motion-controlled and you don’t have to act like a robot.
The outlet went on to ask Herzog if he felt pressure working with Favreau given his history of successful feature films including the likes of Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Jungle Book, Elf, and more. Herzog replied with a hilarious anecdote, saying: “I do not know what other films he has made.”
When told Favreau made The Lion King, the 2019 photo-realistic remake of the animated film, Herzog offered praise for the original feature instead.
“Well I like The Lion King, but the animated version 30 years back or so. That was a wonderful film, the music was particularly great, Hans Zimmer’s score.”
Herzog also revealed that he hasn't seen any of the Star Wars films, but that didn't effect his work on the series given his conversations with Favreau.
“No, it doesn’t really matter,” Herzog said about having not seen the films. “You see, it was a very lively exchange, man-to-man so to speak, between Jon Favreau and myself. I was not tossed into unknown territory. I was very well briefed. I knew what was expected of me — I knew the interior landscape of the character and I knew the exterior landscape. You shouldn’t feel upset that I haven’t seen the 'Star Wars' films; I hardly see any films. I read. I see two, three, maybe four films per year.”
It should come as no surprise that Herzog isn't much of a TV watcher either, and perhaps may never see his work in The Mandalorian, citing the only streaming platform he subscribes to is the Criterion Channel.1comments
“I watch the news from different sources. Sometimes I see things that are completely against my cultural nature. I was raised with Latin and Ancient Greek and poetry from Greek antiquity, but sometimes, just to see the world I live in, I watch “WrestleMania.”
You can see Werner Herzog in the first episode of The Mandalorian right now on Disney+.