The Rebellion matriarch Mon Mothma only initially spoke for less than 30 seconds on screen in Return of the Jedi. However, she has since enjoyed further development as a character with more recent Star Wars material, including Rogue One and the two animated shows, Clone Wars and Rebels.
Even though she was introduced in the main Star Wars films, she had always had a greater representation in the Expanded Universe. In that sense, she is one of the few characters primarily from the Expanded Universe to be so prominently featured in the new canon books and shows.
Mon Mothma has worked in politics for more than 50 years in both Star Wars timelines. She served in the Galactic Senate in the Old Republic, the Imperial Senate in the Galactic Empire, the inner circle of the Rebel Alliance leadership and as the Chancellor of the New Republic. She’s proven to be one of the most principled and capable career politicians to ever appear in Star Wars.
However, there is much more to her than a minimal white robe and a soothing accent. With the future of the Star Wars galaxy at stake in The Last Jedi, it’s worth a look back one of the most enduring leaders of the good guys.
Thankfully, many Bothans did not have to die to bring you these 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Mon Mothma!
15 SHE WAS THE YOUNGEST SENATOR
Mon Mothma joined the Galactic Senate as the Senator of Chandrila in 27 BBY, while she was in her late teens. At the time, this made her one of the youngest beings to ever serve in the Senate, relatively. Leia Organa would also gain that distinction in her own time when she joined the Imperial Senate.
The Separatist movement was already gaining momentum throughout the galaxy by the time Mon Mothma arrived. Before the Clone Wars broke out, she was appointed to the Senate Loyalist Committee.
Chancellor Palpatine had tasked this group with promoting the integrity of the Republic with political maneuvering towards the disillusioned systems. Mon Mothma’s political dispositions made her fast friends and allies with Senators Bail Organa of Alderaan and Padme Amidala of Naboo.
14 SHE WAS NEARLY ASSASSINATED
Early in the reign of the New Republic, Grand Admiral Rae Sloane of the Empire reached out to Chancellor Mothma and offered to negotiate for peace. Both Mothma and Leia were suspicious of this offer but Sloane further offered to hold the negotiations on Chandrila with minimal guard.
While the peace talks were being arranged, some 100 prisoners were being readmitted to the New Republic, but it was a trick. Fleet Admiral Gallius Rex of the Empire had secretly implanted biochips in each of the prisoners and purposefully let them be reclaimed by the Republic. His plot was to take control of the honored prisoners and use them to assassinate the New Republic leadership.
The only thing that saved Mothma in the eventual ambush was the wife of the former prisoner, Brentin Lore Wexley. Her interference stopped him from fatally wounding Mothma, though she was still gravely injured.
13 SHE REPEATEDLY LOOKED AFTER LEIA ORGANA
As the adopted daughter of her longtime colleague Bail Organa, Mon Mothma took a vested interest in Leia’s career from a young age. She became the political tutor for the Princess and continued to mentor her when she became the Senator for Alderaan and a key figure in the Rebel Alliance. Leia was usually hot-headed and eager to take action while Mothma urged her to take caution.
Before the Battle of Endor, the Rebel fleet had been scattered to avoid any more catastrophic losses. Leia volunteered to lead an operation to distract the Empire so that the Fleet could reassemble near Sullust and prepare a strike on the Second Death Star.
Mothma had some wisdom to share for Leia at that moment-- she warned Leia not to let fear and guilt over Alderaan or Han Solo drive her decisions.
12 SHE WAS BORN ON CHANDRILA
Mon Mothma was born 46 years before the Battle of Yavin on the planet Chandrila. Chandrila is among the well populated, civilized Core Worlds that made up the heart of both the Galactic Republic and the Galactic Empire in their times.
In the Legends continuity, Chandrila is an idyllic paradise, politically and ecologically. Unlike Coruscant, the native Chandrilans keep their populations in small townships spread evenly across the planet instead of any over-industrialized cities-- each small family home is also required to maintain a natural feature like a garden or a fish pond.
Mon Mothma’s mother was a governor on Chandrila and her father was an arbiter general for the Republic. A life of public service for her was widely expected. In the new canon, Mon Mothma briefly forsook her family’s political pedigree to become a historian, but quickly followed in her family’s footsteps.
11 SHE WAS ALWAYS AN ADVOCATE FOR PEACE
Even while continuing to serve on the Republic Loyalist Committee, Mon Mothma was a staunch advocate for a peaceful resolution with the Separatist Alliance. She opposed the Republic’s increasing military responses and the assigning of more unilateral executive powers to the Supreme Chancellor.
Mothma and the other senators who advocated for diplomacy and restraint faced dire consequences for their stances, including mortal dangers. More than once, she and her colleagues were targeted for assassination even by war hawks within the Senate itself.
Eventually Mothma, Organa, and Amidala were selected to attend a peace conference between the Republic and the Separatists on Mandalore. The conference was crashed by Lux Bonteri, the son of an assassinated Separatist senator who claimed Count Dooku was responsible, and no peace agreement was reached.
10 SHE WAS A FOUNDING MEMBER OF THE ALLIANCE TO RESTORE THE REPUBLIC
In both the Legends and current continuity, Mon Mothma played a central role in the Alliance to Restore the Republic from pretty early on. In Legends, she was openly outspoken against the Imperial reforms in the early days of the Empire. Her activities garnered surveillance from the newly established Imperial Intelligence agencies.
The early resistance elements Mothma helped foster came to a head in 2 BBY. Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, Galen Marek had been duped into collecting rebel organizers together, including Mothma and Bail and Leia Organa.
Vader had tricked Marek and arrested the dissenters. Marek escaped and pursued the captives to the under-construction Death Star and confronted both Vader and the Emperor long enough for the rebel leaders to escape.
After reconvening on Kashyyyk, Mothma and the Organas carried on with their now formally established Alliance to Restore the Republic.
9 SHE WAS ALWAYS PROTECTIVE OF THE REBELLION
In the new canon, Mon Mothma remained in the Imperial Senate for many years, trying to minimize the Empire’s tyranny. She finally openly resigned from the Senate in 2 BBY following the Ghorman Massacre, lamenting the Senate’s acquiescence to Imperial rule.
Even as a fugitive and leader of the Rebel Alliance, Mothma kept her tendency towards careful maneuvers. Throughout the adventures of Ezra Bridger and the Phoenix Squadron, Mothma counseled to avoid engaging the Empire too early.
She feared the Rebellion would be crushed if it deployed its full fleet against the Empire before it was ready. This led her to refuse sending the full Rebel fleet to Atollon and Jalindi. This different outlook on pragmatism vs extremism was the source of Mothma’s falling out with the insurgent Saw Gerrera.
8 SHE BECAME CHIEF OF STATE TO THE NEW REPUBLIC
In the months after the Battle of Endor, Mon Mothma’s home planet of Chandrila became the capital of the New Republic and Mothma herself was elected as the New Republic’s first Chancellor.
Though she vehemently objected, she was also awarded many of the same emergency powers that Chancellor Palpatine had enjoyed in the decline of the Old Republic. Mothma had hoped instead to throw away those powers and reduce the size of the New Republic fleet by as much as 90%.
In the early years of the New Republic, Mothma was constantly juggling the political standing of the new democracy in the galaxy at large and the practical concerns of defending and ruling the galaxy. The Galactic Empire continued threatening worlds like Kashyyyk and Coruscant.
7 SHE MADE SOME MAJOR POLITICAL MANEUVERS TO CONFRONT THE EMPIRE ON JAKKU
Word of the Empire retreating to Jakku had reached the New Republic months before a battle ensued there. Mon Mothma had discretely deliberated with her circle of advisers on pursuing the Empire there, but one of her political rivals, Senator Wartol had leaked a recording of her conversation to the press. He took it as an opportunity to paint her as secretive and indecisive.
Mothma called for a vote in the Senate on sending the New Republic Fleet to Jakku. The response failed by five votes, all by senators closely tied to Wartol. It took some speedy investigations, including outplaying the Black Sun crime syndicate, to convince those five Senators to flip for the quickly scheduled revote.
Wartol went so far as to plant a bomb in Mothma’s office in retaliation, but she was safely outside her office and got the Senate to approve intervention on Jakku.
6 SHE OVERSAW THE SIGNING OF THE GALACTIC CONCORDANCE
After the Empire lost the Battle of Jakku, Chancellor Mothma met with Grand Vizier Mas Amedda on Chandrila to negotiate peace between the Galactic Empire and the New Republic.
They signed the Imperial Instruments of Surrender and the Galactic Concordance. Per the Instruments, all remaining Imperial forces were ordered to cease fighting and the Imperial government was officially dissolved.
The Galactic Concordance branded all surviving Imperial military personnel as war criminals and restricted the Empire to small predetermined areas within the Core and Inner Rim worlds. Non-military Imperial officials were given conditional pardons.
Even though the Concordance formally ended the Galactic Civil War, Mothma publicly warned the galaxy to be vigilant for any signs of further treachery or hostilities. Eventually the Imperial remnants retreated to the unknown regions and the New Republic underwent major disarmaments.
5 LEADERSHIP IN THE NEW REPUBLIC DECLINED AFTER SHE STEPPED DOWN
Mon Mothma eventually became ill several years into her tenure as Chancellor of the New Republic and stepped down. None of her successors managed to govern as deftly as she did. Stability and peace in the New Republic steadily ebbed away.
The Senate became dominated by two opposing factions. The Populists, arguably harkening back to the Separatists, believed that individual systems should maintain as much sovereignty as possible. The Centrists believed that a strong central government and strong military were necessary to maintaining order.
In the new canon, Mothma’s post retirement activities and or eventual end of her life have not yet been detailed. Given her age at the time of the Galactic Civil War, and the younger Leia’s age by the time of Force Awakens, it is at least possible that Mon Mothma passed away from unknown circumstances.
4 SHE DIED IN HER SLEEP
In the Legends continuity, Mon Mothma’s final days are detailed. At least 12 years after the Battle of Yavin, Mon Mothma was on a diplomatic mission to Coruscant as the Chief of State to the New Republic.
At the function, she had a drink thrown in her face by an ambassador from an Imperial aligned world. The drink turned out to be nanomachines that infected Mothma. She was forced to resign as her condition worsened.
A Mon Calimari Jedi named Cilghal was able to cure her, and her condition did improve, but she never fully recovered. She lived long enough to witness the signing of the Bastion Accords and was a guest of honor at the wedding of Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade.
In 19 ABY, Mon Mothma died peacefully in her sleep, just before the Yuuzhan Vong showed up.
3 SHE HAS HAD VARIOUS VOICE ACTORS
Several different actors have portrayed Mon Mothma both on screen and in voice. Kath Soucie provided the voice of Mon Mothma in Star Wars: The Clone Wars in three different episodes; “Senate Murders”, “Heroes on Both Sides”, and “Pursuit of Peace”.
Soucie has done voice work for numerous Star Wars video games, including Tavion Axmis in Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast and Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, as well as Mara Jade in Star Wars: Empire at War. She also did voice work for Star Wars: Rebels as Maketh Tua.
Other video game voice actors for Mon Mothma include Carolyn Seymour in Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast and Empire at War. Mon Mothma was also voiced outside of video games, including when she was played by Natalia Nogulich in the Return of the Jedi radio drama.
2 SHE WAS PLAYED BY CAROLINE BLAKISTON IN RETURN OF THE JEDI
Like so many Star Wars characters who got fleshed out in the Expanded Universe, Mon Mothma’s first appearance in the main films was brief and somewhat modest.
Caroline Blakiston was working on a TV series in Manchester, England when she was cast in Return of the Jedi. She was fitted for a costume in her hotel and the designers decided to keep the actor’s own short red hair for the character.
She hit a bit of a hiccup when she arrived on set and learned that Mon Mothma’s monologue had been rewritten. It didn’t help that she got tripped up a bit by the Star Wars jargon.
She did have a chance to rerecord her monologue in post-production-- it turned out that pigeons roosting in the set were audible in the initial recording.
1 SHE WAS PLAYED BY GENEVIEVE O’REILLY IN REVENGE OF THE SITH AND ROGUE ONE
In Revenge of the Sith there were scenes filmed that detailed a subplot involving Senators Amidala, Organa and Mothma. They further discussed the worrisome transformation of the Republic into the Empire and the risk of acting on their opposition.
Genevieve O’Reilly was cast by George Lucas to play the part of the younger Mon Mothma, not least of all because of her ready resemblance to Blakiston. Her speaking scenes were cut from the theatrical release but they are viewable in the DVD edition.
O’Reilly returned to play Mon Mothma 11 years later in Rogue One. Thankfully, her scenes weren’t cut. She also provided the voice of Mon Mothma in two episodes of Star Wars Rebels season 3. Gamers may also recognize O’Reilly as the voice of Overwatch’s latest hero, the brilliant and amoral Moira.
Are there any other bits of intelligence you could report on Mon Mothma? Let us know in the comments!
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