Werner Herzog surprised fans when in December 2018 Lucasfilm announced the prolific German director would be joining the cast of its first “Star Wars” series, “The Mandalorian.” Herzog rarely takes on acting gigs or projects that aren’t his own (a recent example being his villainous turn opposite Tom Cruise in 2012’s “Jack Reacher”), so many were left wondering what it is that lured the filmmaker to the “Star Wars” universe. As reported by Vanity Fair, Herzog’s decision came down to money, but not because the director was selling out. Quite the contrary, as Herzog needed to get funds to make what would become his new Cannes drama “Family Romance, LLC.”
Herzog’s latest is set in Japan and centers around a man who is hired to impersonate the missing father of a young girl. Similar to Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” the foreign-language movie features no major stars and thus presented a huge challenge for potential financiers and distributors. Herzog also made the project more risky for backers by using an incomplete script on set. If no one was going to take a risk on Herzog, then Herzog was willing to take a risk on himself. The director said he used his first few checks from starring on “The Mandalorian” to help fund “Family Romance, LLC.”
Fortunately for Herzog, signing on to play a bad guy in the “Star Wars” universe did not pose too great of a challenge. “I asked for the full screenplays, and I looked into the part, and it looked good and interesting,” he said. “The only reason for having me in the film is they needed somebody who would spread terror, and be frightening for the audience. I said, ‘Yes I think I can give you this stylization.’ It came with great ease.”
“The Mandalorian” was developed and overseen by “Iron Man” director Jon Favreau. The cast includes Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, and Taika Waititi. The latter also directed episodes of the series. The “Star Wars” show will be launching on Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+, on November 12.