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The Mandalorian Season 3: The John Wayne Connection You Likely Missed

Late film legend John Wayne, also known as "The Duke," still stands tall today thanks to his classic roles in such movie Westerns as "El Dorado," "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," "Rooster Cogburn," and "True Grit."

Now, a couple of generations later, the Wayne name is still prominent in Hollywood thanks to John Wayne's grandson, Brendan Wayne, and he stars in a project that employs the sensibilities of the Western genre, no less. And while the story is set "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away," the hit "Star Wars" spinoff series "The Mandalorian" portrays the space bounty hunter as a gunslinger merely trying to make his way in the Old West.

Pedro Pascal, of course, stars as the Mandalorian — known as "Mando," for short — and provides the voice for the character and inhabits the armor the character wears. But since the role is filled with lots of physically taxing situations, Wayne and fellow actor-slash-stunt performer, Lateef Crowder, also occupy the Mando suit and helmet. Benefiting the production and its Western tone, of course, is that the genre is a big part of his Wayne's lineage, and the creatives behind "The Mandalorian" wanted to take advantage of that.

"I noticed that in the screen test that they wanted a very Western kind of feel," Wayne told Vulture shortly after the series premiered in 2019. "So, I just slowed everything down. All my walks, everything."

Wayne noted that "holding the strength of your core" was the key to his movements, much like his grandfather, who he described as "so graceful, even though he was a six-foot-five, 260-pound guy, and it was because he was so strong. It allowed him to move in a certain way."

Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder get credit where credit is due in Mando Season 3

Season 3 of "The Mandalorian" has been a significant one in terms of recognition for Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder, since both performers were listed in the main end credits after the likes of Pedro Pascal and Katee Sackhoff, who took on a bigger role in the series as Mandalorian Bo-Katan Kryze. In the first two seasons, Wayne and Crowder — who brings his martial arts experience to Mando's fight scenes — were listed much further down in the end credits as "Doubles" for Mando.

However, as Wayne and Crowder discovered, being a double didn't mean that they were merely filling in for Pascal to stand on set to line up shots for lighting purposes. They each did full-on stunt work, which meant each would have to deal with alien beasts, at least on an imaginary level. Of course, because of Wayne's background, he already knew how to wrangle animals real and imaginary for his on-screen work. In fact, one of Wayne's roles was that of Charlie Lyle, one of the titular cowboys in director Jon Favreau's 2011 Western sci-fi fantasy "Cowboys & Aliens."

"So, playing a cowboy in this movie was the easiest thing for me to tap into imaginatively," Wayne told Vanity Fair in 2011. "I can ride a horse, and I can do stunts on a horse. At least I found out I could do stunts on a horse."

Wayne let his Western instincts influence Mando from the get-go

While Brendan Wayne said he walked The Duke's walk, quite literally, while playing Mando, he also brought some moves as a classic gunslinger to the role, if only by mere instinct. During his screen test for the role, Wayne told Vulture, "I don't know what possessed me, but I started just telling them things like, 'This gun, I gotta have it lower. He can't have it this high, nobody draws a gun this high.'"

In effect, Wayne told Vulture, he was immediately talking to the filmmakers as if the Mando suit was already his own, while also saying things like, "This rifle that's on my back, I gotta have a little more access to what's in my right hand to reach across my left body, to pull the stock out so I can flip it over and really shoot."

Apparently Wayne's confidence in what he was doing worked because he landed the role. There were times, however, where he sought the guidance of "Mandalorian" co-stars like Greef Karga actor Carl Weathers about how to maintain Mando's swagger. Ultimately, though, Weathers' advice came full circle in a sort of way as he simply asked, "How would your grandfather do it?"

"And I was like, 'You know, he'd lead with his shoulder — he always led with his shoulder,' and then Carl said, "Goddamn it then. Lead with your shoulder and stop thinking about it,'" Wayne recalled for Vulture. "And I thought, 'Oh my God, Carl Weathers just channeled my grandfather.'"

After nailing a particularly troublesome take, Wayne noted for Vulture that he looked over at "Carl and he could not stop laughing."

All three seasons of "The Mandalorian" are streaming on Disney+.