Bryce Dallas Howard reveals The Mandalorian directors had a surprising amount of creative freedom during production of the live-action Star Wars TV show. Over the past handful of years, it's clear Lucasfilm's had something of a director problem (see: Josh Trank, Gareth Edwards). The most infamous incident, of course, was when Phil Lord & Chris Miller were fired from Solo: A Star Wars Story late into filming. While the full story behind their dismissal may never be known, it's generally agreed upon the duo's improv-heavy comedic style of directing clashed with Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan. Ron Howard came in to take over duties and oversee substantial reshoots that inflated the budget.
The Mandalorian, which premieres on Disney+ this November, made headlines when it was announced a roster of talented names like Taika Waititi, Rick Famuyiwa, and Bryce Dallas Howard would be helming the episodes. While this was an exciting proposition, the question of creative leeway was a justifiable one, given Lucasfilm's track record. Waititi even mentioned Disney was far more protective of Star Wars than they are with Marvel, which led some to believe unique voices could be tempered a bit. But according to Howard, that wasn't exactly the case.
Speaking with Screen Rant to promote the Rocketman home media release, Bryce Dallas Howard discussed her experience on the Mandalorian set. Much to her pleasant surprise, her initial expectations were subverted, which even shocked her father:
“I really thought that I was going to just basically be like a soldier. And the reality was that both Jon and Dave wanted each of the filmmakers to very much put our stamp on everything. I was shocked, honestly. I kept telling my dad, and he was like, “Really?!“”
Of course, Howard isn't going to say anything negative about The Mandalorian months before its debut, but this is still very encouraging to hear. It doesn't make sense to hire people like Waititi and Famuyiwa (who have their distinct styles and approaches), only to order them to tone down their individual sensibilities to fit a larger, overarching vision. If each director really was able to "put their stamp" on their episodes, then it should make The Mandalorian a fascinating viewing experience, with each episode feeling fresh and (hopefully) bringing something new to the table. Of course, it still has to feel like a cohesive story that doesn't jump all over the place in terms of tone, but Howard noted all the directors shared an office and collaborated with each other, allowing everyone to feel included as they bounced ideas around.
It's interesting, but perhaps not overtly startling, that The Mandalorian was afforded a little more freedom than one of the Star Wars movies. It goes without saying Lucasfilm wants these Disney+ shows to be successful (especially since the films are about to go on hiatus), but there isn't as much pressure for them to perform like there is with a $200 million studio blockbuster. The streaming platform possibly gives Lucasfilm room to experiment a bit and try different things they may not be willing to do on the big screen. Regardless, it sounds like the Mandalorian directors had a great time and hopefully one or two of them could make the jump to the films one day.