LOS ANGELES — The “Star Wars” franchise is filled with strong female characters: Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Rey (Daisy Ridley), Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and even Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie). Now it is Gina Carano joining the ranks, taking on the character of Cara Dune in the new Disney+ series “The Mandalorian.”
As one of the big carrots to lure viewers to its new streaming service that launches Tuesday, Disney has turned to Jon Favreau to create the first live-action series from Lucasfilm. Stories of Mandalorian bounty hunters Jango and Boba Fett have played out, and another warrior emerges. The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) is a lone gunfighter in the galaxy who is far from the rule of the New Republic. This is after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order.
The series has been enveloped in secrecy to the point that little is known about Carano’s character except that she is extremely capable of taking care of herself. Carano is careful not to reveal too much about her role and the series, but she does admit she’s taking a page from another “Star Wars” star to play the role.
“What Carrie Fisher did playing the character that was so strong and so independent was so incredible. We feel like this women’s movement is new, but it isn’t new. There have been massive female heroes through history and Carrie Fisher was one of them in ‘Star Wars’ as well as life,” Carano says. “I get to be such a cool character and when you are watching me, I feel like you kind of are looking at her as a soldier. There is a lot of depth to her and I hope people end up wanting to know more.”
“I hope people really end up loving the character.”
Carano’s appreciation for Fisher’s work comes from being introduced to the “Star Wars” franchise through her stepfather when she was a teenager. “A New Hope” was the first film they watched together, which helped them bond.
The realization that she was part of the “Star Wars” universe hit Carano on her first day of filming. She recalls how seeing herself in full costume was one of the most unforgettable moments in her career.
The Texas native had worked on a few TV and film projects before landing the role in the “Star Wars” universe, but nothing that required as much acting and physical activity as “The Mandalorian.” Her previous credits include “Deadpool,” “Blood and Bone,” “American Gladiator” and “Haywire,” all productions that banked heavily on her major strength of being involved with mixed martial arts for years.
She was such a popular fighter that Carano was once called the face of women’s MMA. During her career she put together a record of 12-1-1 in Muay Thai and a 7-1 in women’s MMA.
“Stuntwomen with me are usually pretty bored,” Carano says. “I am a very strong believer that when you give someone a big opportunity who is an athlete, that physicality should be used. Everybody tells you to stay in your lane. But, if you are on the public’s radar, you are a performer.
“In some way, they love to watch you. And if they love to watch you, they are going to watch you do that.”
Available on Disney+ Tuesday
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