It’s safe to say actress Katee Sackhoff can be considered one of the queens of sci-fi after starring in so many different sci-fi franchises. From her breakout role as “Starbuck” Kara Thrace in Battlestar Galactica to her role in Riddick and leading the Netflix series Another Life, sci-fi has been a staple of her career. Aside from Starbuck, her best known role is Bo-Katan from the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a role she has brought to life in live-action for the hit Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian.
At Toronto’s Fan Expo convention, Sackhoff held a panel talking about all her sci-fi roles, but spoke at length about Bo-Katan and the shift she had to adjust to in order to portray her in live-action. She also spoke about the iconic Mandalorian armour she wears and what it’s like working with the breakout star of The Mandalorian, Grogu aka The Child aka Baby Yoda, who many say is the most adorable thing in the franchise.
Star Wars was always a dream role for Sackhoff. After all, it’s not only the biggest franchise on the planet, but came out at a time when it had the biggest impact on her childhood. Her love for it stems mostly from her father who loves the movies just as much as she does. As she described the start of her career, Sackhoff said “The joke was when I moved to Los Angeles I said to anyone who represented me that if Star Wars calls and they want me to play a rock I will do it. I will sit in the background, painted grey and just not move for however long they need me and I won’t charge them! So when Dave [Filoni] called for me to play Bo, and I think it was only supposed to be one episode to voice her, I jumped. I didn’t even ask any questions. I was just like ‘I’ll be there.’ I think the whole reason the character has stayed for as long as she has is because she’s based off Dave Filoni’s wife and he can’t kill her. Like, legit can’t kill her, you guys, so get used to her.”
Sackhoff had played Bo-Katan for several episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, including the seventh season produced on Disney+ in 2020, and reprised the role in the animated series Star Wars Rebels. For being so accustomed to voicing Bo-Katan in the animated series, it came something as a shock and adjustment to play her in live-action.
“I didn’t think I needed to do backstory on Bo-Katan,” Sackhoff explained. “I played her for so long and I’ve talked to Dave Filoni ad nauseum about her backstory. I know things you would kill to know about who this person is, what her life was like, what her childhood was like. I know all this stuff about her so I didn’t think I’d need to do backstory. I thought they’d put me in a suit and I’d show up and be Bo-Katan. The first day, my first camera test, when I’m in the suit, in the make-up, have the hair, Dave and I have tears in our eyes and I’m looking at myself in the mirror and I realize my face is like this.”
Here Sackhoff smiled her natural wide smile and realized what was off about her in the whole Bo-Katan suit: “It dawned on me I didn’t ask myself how she moved, how her face moved, how her mouth moved. I, as you all can tell, I don’t sit still. I move a lot, my face moves a lot. I needed to figure out how to live in her skin and I hadn’t thought about that and had a week left to figure that out. Basically it’s just don’t move. Take everything about Katee and throw it out the window. If you see her smile, it’s a super good day.”
The significance of her role in Star Wars, much less Bo-Katan’s popularity, is not lost on her, “As a kid I wanted to be Princess Leia. I also wanted to be Bruce Willis and save the Nakatomi building. I wanted to be in this world, I loved Leia, I loved what Star Wars was. It just blows my mind that this is the circumstances of my career right now. It’s crazy.”
One of the things that really excites her about working on The Mandalorian isn’t just bringing Bo-Katan to life, but acting alongside the series’ breakout star: Grogu. When asked about Grogu, Sackhoff fully gushed her love for the new character and the work the puppeteers do in making him feel like a real, fleshed out being.
“I have as much baby Grogu stuff as you do. My keychain is Grogu. I’m obsessed! It is absolutely amazing to me. I did not anticipate my reaction, but my reaction to Grogu is very similar to my reaction to a dog. If a dog comes up to me I have an emotional connection to that dog. I have an emotional connection to Grogu because he reacts to what I’m saying. The puppeteers are absolutely brilliant, there’s 5 or 6 of them, they all have headphones on so they are listening to every take of a scene and they are reacting. He is legitimately reacting to everything I say. His face moves, his head moves, his body moves. He is a real thing to me and it’s the coolest thing ever. Every time I get a scene with him so many of the actors are like ‘Oh I have to work with the puppet’ and I’m like ‘Yes!'”
The look of the Mandalorians is iconic after the popularity of Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who became a well-known character just based off his look and few short scenes in The Empire Strikes Back. Sackhoff expanded on wearing Bo-Katan’s armour in real life and the pleasures and difficulties of wearing her suit on set.
“It’s made out of the same thing you would make your cosplay out of it. That heavy duty plastic, it’s a little heavier though. It’s super heavy, but not super heavy the moment you put it on. You barely feel like you’re in it. It’s heavy after 10 minutes and then you realize the jetpack feels like its got rocks in it and they’re jumpsuits so you’re connected which makes peeing very difficult. I get into my jumpsuit myself, I put on my boots on myself, I step into my gunbelt myself. Beyond that I have to have someone dress me, but my costumer Val and I have got it down to less than 5 minutes to get out and back in so I can pee! So when they go ‘We have 10 minutes’ we look at each other and say ‘Go!’ and strip me out of this thing! Everyone’s freaking out I can get out of it so fast.”
There certainly isn’t a lack of Star Wars series on Disney+ at the moment, from the recently released Obi-Wan Kenobi to the upcoming Rogue One prequel Andor. There always seems to be room for more and on the possibility of a Bo-Katan spin-off, Sackhoff said “If I get a call I would be like ‘Sure’. I’d be stupid to turn that down. At the same time, there is a part of me that thinks animation would be really interesting because we could go into some of that stuff I know Dave’s got in his mind. But live-action would just be bad-ass. It would be so much fun, she’s really cool and I love playing her.”
As for what lies ahead for her and Bo-Katan in The Mandalorian, Sackhoff was very tight-lipped, revealing nothing of the third season. The only thing fans know for certain is that season three will take audiences to Mandalore with Pedro Pascal’s Din Djarin and Bo-Katan after the second season finale teased a conflict between them for the Darksaber after Din won it in combat from Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon, unintentionally making him the ruler of Mandalore by an old sacred ritual.
“Every time I go to a convention or give an interview, a podcast or anything, they try to stump me in a different way,” Sackhoff explained. “I’ve seen it all. If I told you anything, even if my face moved in a certain way that would make you think I said something, Disney would swoop in like those clawed stuffed animal machines and I would just be gone, you’d never see me again.”
Still, Sackhoff said we can maybe expect to see more sequences of Mandalorians fighting together as we did briefly in Season 2. “My favourite scene is from Season 3 which I can’t tell you about obviously. But my favourite scene in Season 2 would probably be the last scene where we are all storming the bridge. What I loved about it was Koska and Bo-Katan’s coordination. I love watching Mandos fight because they’re a well oiled machine. They’re just methodical. I love that about them. The Night Owls with Koska, Axe, Bo and Mando, the four of them together, fighting is just a tight military unit. It’s so cool to see. They have a very different fighting style than so many of the other people. I’m sure you’ll get to see more of that stuff.”
What do you hope to see for The Mandalorian Season 3? Do you hope for a Bo-Katan spin-off? Let us know on our social channels at @flickeringmyth…
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.