Giancarlo Esposito Talks Moff Gideon and ‘Mandalorian’ Season Two


image credit: Disney+

In a recent interview with Indiewire, Giancarlo Esposito talks about the return of his character, Moff Gideon, for Season 2 of The Mandalorian. He spoke candidly about being one of the only onscreen villains of color in the Star Wars universe of memorable baddies. Esposito has received two Emmy nominations this year, one of which is in the Outstanding Guest Actor in a Series category for his work on the show.

Season 1 of The Mandalorian has been nominated for 15 Emmys. Many recognize Esposito from his portrayal of the character Gus Fring on Breaking Bad. His second Emmy nomination this year is for his work on Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad prequel spinoff show.

Esposito has been a fan of Star Wars since the debut of the first film in 1977. He considers Moff Gideon to be a crowning achievement for him. Reflecting on his career, Esposito stated, “It means a lot to me because I’ve strived in my career to be colorless. I am of mixed race, half Italian, half African American, and I grew through the period of time where I was relegated to playing thieves and thugs. I learned how to do a Spanish accent, to play Spanish street characters, who were murderers, killers, robbers, the like.” Then Jon Favreau called to let him know that he had written an incredibly intriguing character specifically for him.

The majority of Star Wars villains to date have been portrayed by white males. Even though James Earl Jones was the voice of Darth Vader, when unmasked, the character was a white male. The absence of a person of color among the ranks of the franchise’s villains had become noticeable, and quite frankly awkward for Star Wars. Moff Gideon may be viewed as the start of a correction to this gap.

“Certainly I’m captivated and in wonder and enthusiasm that this character could be, and is me; someone who has an understanding of what race and status mean here in America and has suffered of that as well. But my Hollywood family has grown throughout the years to become more and more understanding that we are special, because actors are actors, and you don’t have to be a color to play a role,” says Esposito.

George Lucas modeled the Galactic Empire after Nazi Germany. Lucas imbued the Empire with the same right-wing fascism that dominated 20th century Europe. Esposito observes that this kind of thought can also appeal to all walks of life, regardless of ethnic background. He said, “Fascism, communism, for me, can be colorless, because it really boils down to power and money.”

Esposito’s depiction of Moff Gideon is drawn from several sources. He tapped his experiences as a biracial man in the United States. More interestingly, he thinks upon his father’s stories of being in Italy under Mussolini’s fascist grip. His father eventually fled the country and joined the resistance.

By the time of the events of The Mandalorian series, it has been several years since the rebels overthrew the Empire. Former leaders of it are scattered to the fringes of the galaxy along with their dwindling garrisons of Stormtroopers. Like other villains in Season 1 of The Mandalorian, Moff Gideon is a ruthless, Imperial warlord, willing to do anything in his dogged pursuit of The Child. He will even kill his own men.

The character only shows up at the end of the first season. In the finale, Gideon survived his TIE fighter crash. He can be seen holding a legendary weapon within Star Wars lore, the Darksaber. The saber was crafted by the first Mandalorian inducted into the Jedi Order, Tarre Vizsla. It is a unique, black-bladed lightsaber. Esposito hinted that there will be more of his character and the sword in Season 2.

According to Esposito, “It is certainly to be revealed, and I don’t know how it will unfold, but I do know we get some more inklings of how he got this saber. We’ve seen his TIE fighter, and that’s an ancient throwback in the world that we’re in now. And what I love about the ideas and the expansion of ‘Mandalorian’ — and I’m almost sure that they’re going to expand into new characters and new worlds — is that we will have to wait to understand or have some keys to guide us to understanding how he got this weapon, how he learned to wield it, and what he might want to do with it. I can guarantee you’ll get those clues in our next season.” We also do not know why Moff Gideon or any of the other warlords really want with The Child. Though it can be presumed, it is not for the betterment of the galaxy.

Season 2 of The Mandalorian premiers October 2020.

Image Credit: Disney+