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Why The Cast Of The Mandalorian Looks So Familiar

With the highly-anticipated Disney+ streaming service slated for a November release, the potential Netflix-killer has begun hyping up its menu of original content. One of the confirmed original series, The Mandalorian, is being described as a western against the backdrop of the Star Wars universe. Set three years after the events of Return of the Jedi, the series follows a lone gunslinger who works outside of the law. For those who aren't in the know, Mandalorians were legendary warriors, often pitted against the Jedi. Their iconic armor, which was donned by both Jango and Boba Fett, was notorious throughout the galaxy.

The series is executive produced by Iron Man director Jon Favreau, with an impressive assembly of noteworthy and up-and-coming directors helming the eight episodes. The cast, meanwhile, features actors from a slew of popular shows and films, including that of the Game of Thrones world, the X-Men universe, and even the Rocky movies. Here is why the cast of The Mandalorian might look so familiar to you.

From Game of Thrones to space and clones

From the moment that Pedro Pascal's Prince Oberyon Martel strutted into King's Landing, Game of Thrones gained a new fan-favorite character. As the "Red Viper," Pascal was able to leave an extremely memorable mark on the series, especially with his grisly death. However, Thrones was actually not Pascal's only time stealing scenes in a popular TV show.

Pascal has held a slew of minor roles in television, including that of Agent Marcus Pike in The Mentalist, Nathan Landry in The Good Wife, and Agent Juan Badillo in Graceland.  He also played Javier Peña in the Netflix original series Narcos. As for noteworthy movies, Pascal has starred in action flicks, such as Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The Equalizer 2, as well as dramas like If Beale Street Could Talk.

At this year's Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, Pascal briefly touched on his upcoming role in The Mandalorian, in which he plays the main protagonist. "The Mandalorian is a mysterious lone gunman in the outer reaches of the galaxy. Some might say that he has questionable moral character, which is in line with some of our best Westerns, some good samurai [films]... and he's a badass." It sounds like Pascal will be leaving his mark on another wildly popular show.

Galaxies away from the MMA

In this day and age, it's not uncommon for famous MMA fighters to make the transition to acting. Georges St-Pierre played the minor role of Georges Batroc in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, while Quinton "Rampage" Jackson portrayed B.A. Baracus in 2010's remake of The A-Team. Don't forget to add Gina Carano to the list.

Carano's first leading role came in 2011, when she played Mallory Kane in Steven Soderbergh's adrenaline-pumping action movie Haywire. Since then, she has played minor parts in a couple of blockbuster smashes, including 2013's Fast & Furious 6 and 2016's Deadpool.

In The Mandalorian, Carano will be playing Cara Dune, an ex-rebel shock trooper who is having "a bit of trouble" reintegrating into society. Although not much is known of her character, Carano took to her Instagram and shared the first image of her character, commenting about her time at Star Wars Celebration. "I can't describe the energy I felt at the #starwarscelebration2019 event!!" she wrote. "It was incredible and I'm so grateful for all of you and the crazy awesome support you showed us. I'm so stoked... that was epic."

Apollo Creed meets Apollo 13

If you were alive in the 1970s or '80s, chances are you can pick Carl Weathers out of a crowd. The 71-year-old actor is a Hollywood icon, with an extremely well-rounded acting resume of notable roles. Beginning in the '70s, he was perhaps most recognized as Apollo Creed in the Rocky franchise. In the '80s, his role as the badass soldier, Dillon, in Predator was hard to forget. In the '90s, he embodied the hilarious golf-legend-turned-coach Chubbs Peterson in Adam Sandler's timeless comedy, Happy Gilmore. There's truly no genre that Weathers can't excel in.

In The Mandalorian, Weathers will be playing the role of Greef Carga. Although the details of his character are still under wraps, the actor took the podium at this year's Star Wars Celebration in Chicago to offer some insight into his role. "He's kind of the head of this guild of bounty hunters. There seems to be a lot of kind of nefarious people," Weathers hinted. "He's looking for someone to go after a product for a client that's very valuable."

Giancarlo the space desperado

Giancarlo Esposito is one of the most renowned faces in Hollywood. The 61-year-old native of Copenhagen, Denmark has played major parts in huge television series and lent his trademark, gravy-smooth voice and charisma to several successful motion pictures. He is perhaps most recognized for his role as Gustavo Fring, the drug-kingpin employer of Walter White in AMC's Breaking Bad. However, he also starred in films like 1995's The Usual Suspects and 2015's Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. If you pay close attention, you might also recognize his voice as Akela, the leader of the wolf pack, in Jon Favreau's live-action rendition of The Jungle Book.

Like most facets of The Mandalorian, Esposito's role is still largely unknown. However, in an interview with Collider, the Emmy-nominated actor briefly opened up about his time on set. "I've got a great costume. We got great set pieces. I'm not giving anything away because [Jon Favreau] is an artist, truly an artist," Esposito said. "[He was] working with George Lucas on this particular piece and making it a piece that we can really relate to now in our world that we're in."

Nick, use the force

Can you imagine anyone but Harrison Ford playing the iconic role of Han Solo in 1977's A New Hope? Believe it or not, a slew of more prominent actors were considered for the part before Ford — at the time a relative unknown — landed it. One of those actors was Nick Nolte, the star of 1977's The Deep. In an interview with MTV, Nolte admitted that he would have been "kind of a goofy Star Wars guy." Now, as it turns out, he will get to be a goofy Star Wars guy after all.

Nolte has built up quite a respectable acting resume over the years, as proven by his three Oscar nominations. He is perhaps most recognized for his role of Jack Cates in 1982's 48 Hrs. and its 1990 sequel, Another 48 Hrs., in which he played a cop who teams up with Eddie Murphy's criminal, Reggie Hammond, to catch murderers and drug lords. Although he is now well into the back nine of his career, Nolte is hardly slowing down, appearing over the past decade in projects like 2011's Warrior, 2015's A Walk in the Woods, and 2018's The Padre.

The Millenium Swallow

Fans of the CW's Supernatural will no doubt recognize Emily Swallow, who played the seductive, archangel-slaying Amara, a.k.a. the Darkness. The 39-year-old actress has also held a number of minor roles in various television shows, including The Mentalist, How to Get Away with Murder, Adoptable, and even the Netflix animated series Castlevania. Now, Swallow sets her sights on The Mandalorian, as she was thrilled to announce on Twitter.

Swallow's first role in a television series came in 2006, when she played a character named Regina on the soap opera Guiding Light. Her big screen debut came in 2008's The Lucky Ones alongside Rachel McAdams, Tim Robbins and Michael Peña. Although details about her character in The Mandalorian remain shrouded in mystery, Swallow's twitter feed suggests that she had a great time on set, particularly while working with a special co-star. "Working with @TaikaWaititi on one of my episodes of #TheMandalorian fulfilled a very weird and off-kilter dream of mine," she revealed. 

Jedi Master Waititi

After directing the wildly successful Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi became a household name for fans of comic book movies. In addition to lending his voice to the hilariously dry Kronan warrior, Korg, Waititi also made a splash in the acting world with his role of Viago in the 2014 vampire comedy, What We Do in the Shadows, which he also co-directed and produced.

As it turns out, Waititi, who will also be directing an episode of the series, will be voicing the droid IG-11 in The Mandalorian. The character bears a striking resemblance to IG-88, an assassin droid who was among the cadre of bounty hunters hired by Darth Vader to hunt down Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back. Though almost nothing was revealed about this murder machine in the movies, the "Expanded Universe" books fleshed out his career in contract killing, including his ongoing rivalry with Boba Fett. 11's relationship to 88 (if any) is unclear, but they're definitely built for similar purposes.

Although Marvel is notoriously tight-lipped on their movie details, it sounds as though the Star Wars universe is just as restrictive, if not more. In a recent interview with Observer, Waititi was asked which production company had the stricter guidelines, and his answer might shock you. "Star Wars, yeah, easily." Don't expect any major leaks from the set of The Mandalorian anytime soon.

Star Werner

German filmmaker Werner Herzog has accomplished a great bit in his incredibly extensive career. The 76-year-old has garnered several awards and honors throughout the years, including Emmy and Oscar nominations. Herzog is perhaps best known for his directorial work overseas, including existential dramas about the human will like 1982's Fitzcarraldo and 1972's Aguirre, the Wrath of God. However, he has also tried his hand at acting more than a few times, such as when he played the Zec alongside Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher. Eagle-eyed fans of NBC's Parks & Recreation might also recognize him from his cameo as spooky homeowner Keg Jeggings in an episode from the show's seventh season.

When speaking to the Associated Press, Herzog, who will be playing a villain in The Mandalorian, applauded the series as a return to classic filmmaking compared to other slick blockbuster projects. "The Mandalorian was filmed not like all the other Star Wars or other big event films [with] green screen, green screen everywhere, in the camera, motion control moving there," Herzog explained. "You see the landscape, you see the formation. The camera could even be handheld and move in between us, seeing the same landscape. It's not green screen and artificiality. It brings movie making back to where it should be. It's a phenomenal, phenomenal achievement." 

Salim in the stars

Although Omid Abtahi was excited about landing a role in The Mandalorian, according to Discussing Film, he wasn't always a Star Wars fanatic. "I hadn't seen any of the Star Wars films other than The Last Jedi... But when I got offered the role, I realized I had to go and watch them... and fell madly in love with [them] and I am now beating myself for waiting so long to watch it." While it is rumored the newly-minted Star Wars fan will be playing an ex-Imperial Intelligence officer named Dr. Pershing, not much else is known of Abtahi's role.

The American-Iranian actor has appeared in quite a few movies and TV shows throughout the 2000s. While he is perhaps best known for his role of Salim in the Starz series American Gods, he has also appeared in films like 2009's Brothers, 2012's Oscar-winning Argo, and 2015's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2. You might also recognize him from his small roles in various episodes of popular television series, including Homeland, Better Call Saul, The Mentalist, Last Resort, and even Grey's Anatomy.

Bernard Bullen

In The Mandalorian, Bernard Bullen will be playing the mysterious role of "Father," according to IMDb. Although this is almost definitely his most high-profile gig to date, the Spanish/British actor is no stranger to the screen. He has appeared in several television shows, both foreign and domestic, and even has a few movie roles under his belt.

In 2018's disaster thriller End of the World, Bullen played the role of Barry. He briefly appeared on TNT's The Last Ship, and also played the minor role of Columbus in the CW's Jane the Virgin. The majority of his acting credits are made up of roles in Spanish TV shows, such as ¡He matado a mi marido!, Una Palabra, and Hola ¿Que tal?

It is unclear how significant of a role he will be playing alongside major actors like Pascal, Weathers, and Carano, but Bullen may well be poised for a major breakout with The Mandalorian.

Sasha Banks

Although Sasha Banks is certainly not the first WWE star to successfully transition into television, she is the first to appear in the Star Wars universe

Born Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado on January 26, 1992, the aspiring professional wrestler made her in-ring debut in the Woburn, Massachusetts-based Chaotic Wrestling federation under the ring name "Mercedes KV." Her first solo victory occurred on December 2, 2011, when she defeated future Impact Wrestling star Alisha "Alexxis" Maher in an "I Quit" match and won the Chaotic Wrestling Women's Championship. KV remained in the league for 259 days until she signed with WWE on August 17, 2012, and was subsequently assigned to their NXT brand. KV would adopt the ring name "Sasha Banks" and make her televised debut on NXT on December 12. Banks was promoted to WWE's main roster in July 2015 and would go on to hold the Raw Women's Championship five times.

Details are still scarce about Banks' character in The Mandalorian season 2, but she appeared in the first season 2 trailer as a mysterious hooded figure that Mando seems to notice as he and the Child enter a fishing settlement on a planet that is yet to be determined.

Timothy Olyphant

Any fan of the Western genre will most likely recognize Timothy Olyphant from his portrayals of both US Marshal Raylan Givens on FX's Justified and real-life historical figure Seth Bullock on HBO's Deadwood.

Olyphant's first paid acting job was in a 1995 WB television pilot based on the hit detective series 77 Sunset Strip. Casting director Phyllis Hoffman cast Olyphant in the role, but he, unfortunately, did not have an opportunity to meet the show's producer, Clint Eastwood, who quit days before filming began. The pilot was never picked up for a series order, but Olyphant would continue to score roles in many high-profile movies and TV shows such as Scream 2Sex and the City, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

In The Mandalorian season 2, Olyphant first appeared in the season premiere as Cobb Vanth, a character who was first introduced in the 2015 novel Star Wars: Aftermath. Both the episode and novel reveal that Vanth is the sheriff of a small town on Tatooine called Mos Pelgo, which was invaded by the Mining Collective mere moments after the Battle of Endor. Vanth barely escapes with his life and stumbles upon a group of Jawas, who give him Boba Fett's Mandalorian armor in exchange for a container full of silicax oxalate crystals. Vanth later returns to Mos Pelgo and uses the armor to liberate his people from the Mining Collective.

Katee Sackhoff

Katee Sachkoff has appeared in many high-profile movies and TV shows throughout her career, but most people know her as Captain Kara "Starbuck" Thrace on the 2004 reboot of Battlestar Galactica.

Star Wars fans may also recognize her as the voice of Bo-Katan Kryze in the CG-animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. In that show, Kryze is introduced as the lieutenant of a Mandalorian splinter group called Death Watch, who opposed Kryze's sister, Duchess Satine, and the pacifist government that she led on the planet Mandalore. After the renegade Sith Lord Maul usurps Pre Vizsla as both the leader of Death Watch and the new ruler of Mandalore, Bo-Katan and several other Death Watch members oppose Maul, as they could not accept the idea of an outsider ruling Mandalore. She would team up with former Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano near the end of the Clone Wars to launch a full-scale assault on Mandalore in an attempt to liberate its people from Maul and his Mandalorian super commandos. This victory was short-lived, however, as the Empire would later occupy Mandalore and establish an Imperial academy on the planet. In the subsequent CG-animated series Star Wars Rebels, Bo-Katan is given the Mandalorian lightsaber known as the Darksaber and becomes the new leader of Mandalore.

Deadline confirmed on May 12, 2020, that Sackhoff is set to make her live-action debut as Kryze in The Mandalorian season 2, although the full extent of her role is still yet to be revealed.

Michael Biehn

Michael Biehn might not be a household name to some, but many Terminator and Alien fans will surely recognize him as Kyle Reese from 1984's The Terminator and Corporal Dwayne Hicks from 1986's Aliens

Biehn actually got his start in Hollywood from a bit role in 1978 film adaptation of Grease. Even though he only appears in two scenes, the uncredited Biehn does get hit in the stomach by John Travolta's Danny Zuko while their characters play basketball together. Biehn is also no stranger to television, as he made appearances on various high-profile TV shows throughout his career, such as Hill Street BluesLaw & Order: Criminal Intent, and Criminal Minds. When asked in 2019 if he would ever return to the Terminator franchise for a cameo, Biehn told The Hollywood Reporter (via Comicbook.com) that he finds the idea "ridiculous."

Making Star Wars first broke the news on March 24, 2020, that Biehn would appear in The Mandalorian season 2 as a bounty hunter from Mando's past.