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Mandalorian's Giancarlo Esposito Had Vader On The Brain When Playing Moff Gideon

It's hard to find a more iconic movie villain than Darth Vader. In fact, it might be downright impossible. Numerous films have paid tribute to the tragic Sith Lord, either in parody or homage. And in the "Star Wars" universe, Vader looms even larger — he is kind of the main character, after all.

You could create an entire sub-category of "Star Wars" bad guys who pull from Vader as inspiration. That list seems to get longer every year. There's General Grievous in "Revenge of the Sith," who foreshadows Anakin Skywalker's cybernetic transformation. Then there's Kylo Ren, who literally tries to be Vader, and the Imperial Inquisitors, whose suits closely resemble his own.

Though his character might not be Force-sensitive, Giancarlo Esposito apparently brought his own Darth Vader inspiration to "The Mandalorian." His Moff Gideon role represents the worst of the Empire that was, so it only makes sense that he'd also embody a piece of its most powerful weapon. Specifically, Gideon's armored look at the end of "The Mandalorian" Season 2 is very reminiscent of Vader's own suit, prompting questions from fans about a possible connection. According to Esposito, there's no official tie between the two, but that didn't stop him from imagining what such a relationship might be like.

Esposito imagined Gideon's connection to Vader

In a 2020 interview with Entertainment Weekly about "The Mandalorian," Esposito was asked about the resemblance between Gideon's armor and Vader's. "I love making that connection!" the actor said. "It's any adult manchild's dream come true to be equated in a certain way with Darth Vader."

He went on to discuss Gideon's potential relationship with Vader — one that currently doesn't have any canonical grounding, but which the actor apparently spent some of his own time considering. "I don't know what the storyline might bring up in regard to Moff Gideon's relationship to Darth Vader," Esposito said. "But I certainly correlated one in my own brain."

Though it hasn't been explored much in any official "Star Wars" stories, there certainly would have been a dynamic between Darth Vader and Gideon. Vader was the Emperor's right hand and most powerful soldier, and Gideon was a moff. As such, he would have been privy to many secret Imperial schemes and surely would have run into the Sith Lord a few times. Beyond just that, there's evidence in "The Mandalorian" that Gideon may have idolized Vader.

Moff Gideon tries to be Darth Vader in The Mandalorian

In the final shot of "The Mandalorian" Season 1, Moff Gideon emerges from his wrecked TIE fighter with the darksaber in hand and his cape flowing in the wind. It's a moment that's clearly meant to evoke Darth Vader for fans, but it's also a telling scene for Gideon's overall character.

Who is Moff Gideon? He's a man who refuses to give up on the evil ideals of the Empire, even after all of his allies have been defeated by the New Republic. He's not Force-sensitive or a Mandalorian, but he wields the darksaber like a trophy and dresses in Sith garb. It's also important to remember that most people in the Empire never learn that Vader turns on Palpatine. All they know is that Luke Skywalker left the Death Star II alive with both the Emperor and Vader dead in his wake. That may be part of why Gideon is so terrified to see Luke at the end of "The Mandalorian" Season 2.

All that means that Vader would still be a symbol for someone like Gideon; a martyr of the old Empire who represents its power. That makes it even funnier that Esposito referred to playing Vader as a "manchild's dream." That's exactly what Gideon is — a manchild of the Empire who believes himself destined for greatness. To that end, he puts on his little chest plate and cape and waves his laser sword around. If it weren't so fascist, it would almost be adorable.