Temuera Morrison and Ming-Na Wen on That 'Inevitable' Book of Boba Fett Cameo

Turns out this Rancor Trainer has history with Morrison. The stars also discuss welcoming the Mods, honoring the Tuskens, and building Boba Fett's relationship with Fennec Shand.

by | January 17, 2022 | Comments

A familiar pop culture figure made his way into the Star Wars universe as a seemingly compassionate Rancor trainer, viewers of Disney+’s The Book of Boba Fett saw in “Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa.” Whatever the trainer’s true purpose may be, it really was only a matter of time before a certain member of Robert Rodriguez’s preparatory company made his way to the filmmaker’s Star Wars series. In fact,  “it was inevitable,” star Ming-Na Wen said during a Television Critics Association panel on Friday.

Beyond the stunt casting – which may yet be more than a stunt – both Wen and star Temuera Morrison fielded questions about the program ranging from the representation of the Tusken Tribe, Morrison’s dedication to a role he’s only played a handful of times, and Fett’s new biker gang.

Spoiler alert: The following discusses details of The Book of Boba Fett episode “Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa.” Stop reading here if you haven’t watched the episode.

Danny Trejo’s Rancor Trainer May Not Be as Cuddly as He Appears

Danny Tre in a character poster for THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

In his handful of scenes, Danny Trejo’s Rancor Trainer appears to reflect Wen’s estimation of the actor: “Danny is the coolest human being. He has the heart of a warrior and the personality of a teddy bear.”

The trainer’s tenderness toward the creature makes the scene in which Fett (Morrison) and the Rancor bond all the more heartwarming. Trejo’s cinematic history as a heavy, however, also suggests there may be more to the Hutts’ gift of the animal and its keeper.

Neither Wen nor Morrison speculated on the character’s true purpose, but Morrison recalled working with the actor on the 1997 film Six Days, Seven Nights.

“We were pirates trying to catch Harrison Ford,” he recalled. “[Danny’s] got that great face, great texture, great voice. With Danny, you just have to turn up and look left or look right.”

Although Morrison was surprised to see him on set: “I didn’t know until the last minute,” he said. “[But] we had a great day.”


(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

If you’re looking to figure out more about the Rancor Trainer, Morrison’s mention of that “great day” may suggest Trejo’s scenes are innocent and few, but Trejo’s day on set covered a lot of ground as The Book of Boba Fett utilized an unconventional shooting schedule.

As in film, an episode of television is shot in an order benefiting production realities. If a location is only available for one day, all the scenes set there get shot first regardless of their place in the story. Even within that discontinuity, though, a typical show still generally films one episode at a time. But according to Wen, Fett often shot scenes from several different episodes simultaneously – a break from experiences she had on programs like Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Morrison called the schedule “higgledy-piggledy.”

Boba Fett Honors the Tusken Tribe of Tatooine

Tuskens character poster for The Book of Boba Fett

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

One of the programs great surprises is its expansion of Tusken culture. Instead of the monolithic marauders of the sand seen in the Star Wars films, the tribe Boba Fett encounters has a distinctive look, voice, and set of traditions.

“I was pulling from my own culture in coming to terms with the ceremonies and preparing the warrior and the weapons,” Morrison said of some of the work involved in giving Boba’s adoptive tribe more depth. “They are the Indigenous people of the sands of Tatooine.”

“We knew so little about the Tuskens and it really gave them an incredible backstory,” Wen added. “I wasn’t there for those scenes, but I read it [in the script] and to see it visually how they worked out the dance moves and making the weaponry — the [gaderffii] — I think all of those elements enriched who the Tuskens are.”

Temuera Morrison in THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Addressing some of the criticism online about the tribe’s demise in the third episode, Wen mentioned burning the bodies is an established part of Star Wars lore right back to the 1977 original film. Although, as she noted, it was C-3PO building a pyre for Jawas, nevertheless, “there is this ceremonious desire on Tatooine to burn the bodies as opposed to letting them lie out in the open in the desert.”

An earlier funerary rite in Fett suggests Boba took the moment with his fallen comrades quite seriously, which was something Morrison himself wanted to mark: “[In the script] I read we were throwing dead bodies on the fire and I was going, ‘Oh, hang on, we got to put a bit of ceremony into this.'” He also pointed to a time crunch in shooting the scene which may have led to it feeling a little less momentous than he hoped.

The Mods of Tatooine Join Forces With Boba Fett

Jordan Bolger and Sophie Thatcher in THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

The deaths in this week flashback may also have a greater impact on the present-day events than some realize. A youthful swoop gang who augment their bodies with cybernetic components with as much zeal as they soup up their bikes debuted in the episode. The characters take a lot of cues from the Mods who roamed the streets of London in the 1960s, but Wen noted that cultural homage also crosses over with the interested of Star Wars creator George Lucas.

“For me, if you know George Lucas, this is a real homage to a lot of things he’s always loved,” she said. “Whether it was the Mods back in the 1960s, movies about kids on motorbikes and scooters, or American Graffiti.” The latter is, of course, Lucas’s second film, which delighted in re-creating the Northern California cruising culture he experienced as a teen in the 1950s.“Those are great little tributes,” she continued. “But at the same time, it lends itself to the storytelling of learning about the citizens of Tatooine.”

Sophie Thatcher and Jordan Bolger in THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

“They brought a lot of color to it,” added Morrison, who also suggested Fett had an immediate “if you can’t beat them, join them” reaction the kids. He also added that the character may have been inspired to take them in thanks to his experience with the Tusken tribe. “Boba has never experienced a real family before — with the young Tuskens and the old Tuskens — and protecting their land,” he explained. That experience definitely changed the character’s perceptions and hiring on the swoop gang could be evidence of the former bounty hunter’s need for family.

He also joked that Boba needed a new cleaning staff, too. “I’m not sure if they’re happy with their pay,” he said.

The Fennec and Fett Dynamic Is Built on a Life-Debt

We’ll assume the swoop gang’s immediate aid cooled any objections Fennec Shand (Wen) may have had about their appearance in the palace, but it is sometimes hard to tell with her. Like Fett, she was an underworld tradesman for many years, but their approach and demeanor differ.

“She is someone who is used to just being a loner and getting things done and not questioning her choices,” Wen said. At the same time, she has essentially sworn a life-debt to Fett and, therefore, must apply her strengths in a different way.

Going into the Fett story, though, Fennec is still very much the brains to Boba’s brawn, adding a diplomatic “finesse” as he gets used to playing the Daimyo. At the same time, Wen noted, “there are some stumbling blocks while they’re trying to learn diplomacy” and, as it happens, Fett maintains a better sense of patience than her after his experience out in the Dune Sea.

Ming-Na Wen and Temuera Morrison in THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT

(Photo by Nicola Goode / Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Which makes you wonder about her own near-death experience in the desert and Fett’s decision to save her. Wen only made a cursory mention of The Mandalorian moment, but it remains to be seen if a flashback will offer greater clarity on what transpired when Boba found her.

Boba never questions Fennec’s choices, Wen said, regardless of the exact details of her rescue.

“Kind of like on set,” she joked about her dynamic with Morrison.

She also credited the stuntwork she learned on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and some earlier projects for the ease with which she became a Star Wars assassin.

“Whether it’s martial arts or kickboxing or learning stunt fighting,” she said. “It’s great that I can still continue to do this. I feel very privileged and honored, and I’m living out my dream of being in a Star Wars project.”

Morrison Found Fett in the Makeup

Temuera Morrison in THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT

(Photo by Nicola Goode / Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Despite his long association with Star Wars, Morrison only really spent quality time with Boba Fett in the last two years. To find the character in The Book of Boba Fett, Morrison credited the time spent perfecting the make-up application of Boba’s slightly digested face (and its varying severity from flashback to the present). As viewers of The Mandalorian will recall, he looked far more scared than he does in Fett’s present-day sequences. Across his appearance in the earlier show, the flashback sequences on Fett, and his partially healed face in the current story, Morrison had a long time to consider the character.

“I wanted to bring a little bit more energy … those things that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up,” he said.

Wen teased the transition in make-up from his first moments after escaping the Sarlacc to his look in the finale will continue to change.

Morrison’s casting in the original Star Wars films led to him reappearing from time to time as clones or the voice of Boba in subsequent projects. And once Mandalorian executive producer Jon Favreau wanted Boba Fett in the series, it meant Morrison would get the call to suit up.

“I never in my wildest dreams thought about playing Boba Fett, or anything like that. I just wanted to be better. And good,” Morrison said of that first real chance to play Boba on The Mandalorian. “I made the most of that opportunity.”

It led to The Book of Boba Fett. And with four more episodes remaining, it is still uncertain where the will of the Force may take Fett and Shand, but, hopefully, it will continue to build upon the unexpected foundation Morrison creating by playing Jango 20 years ago.

“I must thank George for making me Jango Fett,” Morrison said.

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