The Mandalorian Stunt Coordinator Reveals Secrets of Lightsaber Combat

The Mandalorian Stunt Coordinator Reveals Secrets of Lightsaber Combat

In the second season of Disney + “The Mandalorian”, we saw how the protagonist with a helmet on his head and his ward Grogu continued their quest to find the Jedi, meeting new allies and enemies on the way. And along with this, the showrunners delighted the audience with stunts, spectacular scenes and even introduced Luke Skywalker into the story.

Hollywood veteran stunt coordinator Ryan Watson was responsible for the spectacular scenes. Thanks to his work, the second season received more interesting fights in a variety of situations. Despite his work in Wonder Woman and Batman v Superman, Ryan is most proud of what he has accomplished in The Mandalorian.

He told about this to  The Hollywood Reporter :

I call this the black belt of cinematography, because it requires not only speed, but elaboration. I have never worked on something so detailed and large-scale.

An example of great staging, preparation and attention to detail is the fight between The Mandalorian and Moff Gideon in the season 2 finale. Dean’s role in this scene was played by Brazilian stuntman Latif Crowder – he practices the martial art of capoeira, which combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music, which allows you to better dodge and dodge. If you watch the scene in slow motion, you can see how the sword sweeps near his head, just 2 Pouces away.

The Mandalorian Stunt Coordinator Reveals Secrets of Lightsaber Combat

This fight became one of Ryan’s favorites and showed Esposito’s abilities, making it look pretty believable. During training, which took a whole month, Crowder and Esposito practiced with bamboo swords – then the team of props did not have time to prepare the Dark Sword. And already during the filming, when the actors used special swords for safety and the subsequent addition of effects, Esposito’s weapons broke.

As a result, we had to use a full sword, the upper part of which is even heavier, so it becomes more difficult to swing. It was probably the most intense fight of all episodes. Giancarlo brought real energy to the battle.

When Latif finished one of the takes, he said, “It felt like a real battle.” He did dodge for his own safety.

During the filming of the duel, 2-3 swords were completely broken. According to the coordinator, this is a rather expensive props.

The Mandalorian Stunt Coordinator Reveals Secrets of Lightsaber Combat

In the same episode, Fennek Shand, Bo-Katan, Koska Reeves, and Kara Dune battled a crowd of stormtroopers with different weapons. Ryan noted that such scenes, in which battles take place in different places and with a large number of people, are easier to coordinate than duels, but the situation can quickly turn into a mess given the scale of what is happening. 

But when it comes to challenges unique to Star Wars, the issue of lightsabers cannot be ignored. For example, the battle between Ahsoka Tano and Morgan Elsbeth in the fifth episode of the second season. According to the coordinator, this fight was the most significant of the season in terms of fans’ expectations.

During the preparation, the team had extensive discussions with Jon Favreau and director Dave Filoni about the style and production. As a result, it was decided to use the traditional approach instead of something embellished.

The Mandalorian Stunt Coordinator Reveals Secrets of Lightsaber Combat

The team was inspired by the films of Akira Kurosawa and wanted to reflect the spirit of old-school samurai fighting, while at the same time make the battle fun with a fairly wide range of movements. Then Diana Lee Inosanto, who played Morgan, came to the rescue. She is the daughter of Dan Inosanto, who helped Bruce Lee develop his fighting style, and is a martial artist herself. The coordinator incorporated the Filipino-style kali into the battle, adapting ideas of how a real lightsaber might move.

Lightsabers change dynamics. The blade of a samurai blade can be touched without harm, which is excluded with a lightsaber. 

Therefore, the battle feels clean and direct. There are no unnecessary movements, when the fight begins, they “explode”. As if from zero to 160 kilometers per hour in an instant. 

Watson also praised Rosario Dawson and Diana Inosanto’s weapon skills. Given how much stunts and combat play a role in the show, the actors’ experience with guns and combat was a key element during the casting.

“The Mandalorian” also differs in how important practical effects played in the series. Spaceships, jetpacks and other graphics have been combined with live stunts. For example, they can be seen in the seventh episode, in which Migs Mayfield is driving a transporter, and Dean is fighting pirates on the roof.

The Mandalorian Stunt Coordinator Reveals Secrets of Lightsaber Combat

According to the coordinator, this scene was the most difficult for the entire season. The stuntmen were hung on ropes, and the filming was carried out both statically and while moving in order to achieve better choreography. But in the end, according to Ryne, the main thing is not the complexity and spectacularity of the stunts, but how authentically the actors perform them.

You can practice doing the movements and doing them perfectly, but if all this is devoid of the acting skills and tension of a real battle, then it will be difficult to get a good result. 

The coordinator explained that this final result may look simple, but in reality it takes a lot of work. It is necessary to take into account the limitations of the suit, know the location of the cameras, play a role and simultaneously carry out movements, taking into account all the changes and trying not to cause real damage to colleagues.

What scenes from “The Mandalorian” do you remember the most?

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