The Mandalorian Season 2 seems to have avoided the pandemic-dealt dilatory hurdles that mired most of the entertainment industry, now on track to make its long-planned October premiere. Yet, amidst a steady stream of casting and character news, the Star Wars series casually hired Sam Hargrave, director of the recently-released Netflix action flick, Extraction, which stars Chris Hemsworth. Now, Hargrave is teasing upped action this time around.
Hargrave, in an interview with Collider, reveals that he served as second unit director on The Mandalorian’s second season, tapped to help directors like Robert Rodriguez and Peyton Reed shake up the action. While the show’s first season was hardly short of intensity, the second season will brandish bigger designs, evidenced by creator Jon Favreau’s hiring of Hargrave—a veteran stunt coordinator-turned director—for a conceptual approach potentially akin to what he accomplished with Extraction, which notably included an 11-minute sequence that was artfully constructed to look like a single-shot. As Hargrave explains of his Mandalorian hiring:
“They actually came to me. It’s crazy. I was in the middle of post [-production on Extraction] and I’m editing my movie and I got a call from my buddy Colin Wilson, one of the line producers, who said, ‘Jon [Favreau] and the people over here are looking for someone to bring into the team or add to the family who has experience with action.’ The team that was there did a great job in the first season and it was just all fun. But they wanted to build on that and bring a new perspective and take it to another level for the next season. So, I was like, ‘That sounds like a fun challenge.’”
While Extraction is the only feature film he’s ever directed, Hargrave brings 15 years of experience in the world of stunts, having started as a stunt double (his first gig was on the Supernatural pilot as Jensen Ackles’s stunt double). He would eventually become a stunt coordinator on blockbusters such as The Hunger Games films to the comic book movie arena with Suicide Squad and Marvel movies Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, Deadpool 2, Avengers: Infinity War and the biggest one of them all, Avengers: Endgame. Consequently, Favreau was clearly looking for someone with experience and enough drive to conjure something new. Aptly, Hargrave reveals a certain synergy between teams, which seems to have successfully intensified the action, explaining:
“We worked closely with the stunt team there, with Bryan Watson and the team that had done the first season; they did a really great job. You know, it was just to bring a little extra perspective, add a few things, things I’ve learned while working on superhero movies, little tricks which make the performances easier and using visual effects to enhance certain things. Just bringing a little bit of experience and knowledge to where we could take it to another level and up the ante.”
The Mandalorian‘s first season maintained a certain discipline when it came to pacing across its eight episodes, and Hargrave is clearly aware that a modus operandi had to be maintained while exploring ambitious new options. While bestowing praise on Favreau—calling him “great”—Hargrave reveals that, in addition to the traditional shooting techniques of live-action and blue screen, the series also utilizes new technology called “The Volume,” which essentially renders things in a similar way to a live game engine. Thus, he points to his time on the series as “a really fun learning experience.” Consequently, don’t expect the gun-slinging, haymaker-hurling Mandalorian to manifest in Season 2 embracing uncharacteristic things like slow-motion-shot kung fu skills. As he explains of the discipline in his action approach:
“The balance you have to find and the truth you have to adhere to is the character you’ve developed. So, if you have a character and for this guy — who’s more of a gunslinger, a bit more of a brawler — it would be out of character for him to come into a scene and throw out a round-off, backwards double flip and do a crazy kick just because you can, or because he has a helmet on [hiding a skilled stunt double]. You have to remember to stay true to the character. So yes, you can put whoever you want in there, but you have to make sure that you reign in the excitement and make sure you’re true to the character and the story.”
Of course, Hargrave is in no position to offer specific details about The Mandalorian Season 2, but he does tease that, “The next season is really, really cool. The way the story arcs is really cool. So, we tried to have the action represent that and take it to the next level. I think we did that.” Auspiciously, the director seems to be encouraged by the feedback he received on the rushes, explaining:
“I am confident. The difference is, with Extraction, I’m in the editing room so I can be extremely confident [the action] is going to be what it’s going to be. I’m not editing these episodes. […] But I know the footage we delivered, as a second-unit, they seemed to be happy with.”
The Mandalorian Season 2 will premiere—new 2020-esque catastrophes notwithstanding—on Disney+ this October on a date to be revealed.