Katee Sackhoff has made a name for herself playing strong-willed female characters. Now, she’s brought her animated character Bo-Katan to life in The Mandalorian.
When rumors that Battlestar Galactica star Katee Sackhoff had joined the sophomore season of Disney+’s mega-hit The Mandalorian, many fans were skeptical given the character she would be playing, Bo-Katan Kryze was such a beloved fixture from the animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. While it was the actress’ voice in both properties, many weren’t sure how Duchess Satine’s sister would come across in live-action.
Last week’s episode, “Chapter 11: The Heiress” is a direct nod to Bo-Katan becoming the leader of Mandalore after the death of her sister in the Clone Wars at the hands of former Sith Lord Darth Maul, hence the subtitle ‘the heiress’.
Sackhoff spoke to StarWars.com about how her involvement in the series ended up happening, and how it started was genuinely surprising. Sackhoff was talking to Dave Filoni about his new project, The Mandalorian, at Star Wars Celebration Chicago in 2019 while backstage when the series was unveiled. As they spoke, they joked about Bo-Katan not being dead and potentially showing up. Little did the actress know that a year later, she would play the same character she had voiced for a decade in the live-action series. The transition between two vastly different platforms can often be challenging, especially when it’s the same actor playing the character in both domains.
In her interview, Sackhoff said the following:
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"I remember saying to Dave Filoni, “You know, not for nothing, but I think [Bo-Katan is] not dead.”"
She added that she ensured Filoni that she was not trying to force him to include her in the series. In the interview, she also said she considers Dave a friend and that she was humbled to be included in the Star Wars universe for however long he wanted her to be.
Sackhoff’s Star Wars debut came in 2012 during the arc involving Duchess Satine reluctantly taking up the mantle of the leader of their planet, Mandalore. Despite knowing where her character was headed, it did not get any easier for Sackhoff to translate Bo-Katan from animated to live-action on The Mandalorian:
"I think the main thing is I truly thought that having voiced her for over a decade would help me. And it actually sort of hurt a little bit in the beginning."
She continued by saying that despite her voice role not really being of much help to her when making the character’s transition from animation to live-action it did give her a better look at how Bo operates as a person and physically:
"While it gave me a tremendous understanding of who she was as a person, it didn’t help me to figure out her physicality. It didn’t help me to figure out the way her face moved or the way she walked. I had seen the way she moved, but it was in animation. And so to translate that in a way that didn’t look cartoonish was actually harder than I thought it would be."
It should be noted that Sackhoff is known to be very expressive with her facial expressions which were hidden when she recorded her lines for The Clone Wars and later, Rebels. However, in The Mandalorian, this was able to be used to her full advantage… well, kind of. Of those recording sessions, she recalled:
"I’m a crazy person. I’m moving and I’m jumping around and my face is doing all these weird things. There is a stoicism to Bo-Katan that is very purposeful and intentional. When she moves, she means to do it. It’s thought out. So I really had to find a way of living her and having her move [in a way] that felt calculated, which did not allow for “Crazy Katee” to come into play at all."
Sackhoff had to reel in the facial expressions given that Bo-Katan is the polar opposite of who she herself is. She has likened her time filming as being a bit like Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Nothing wrong with that; it’s easy to understand why she would think this. She had to remember that because the character was originally animated, it meant that the way she moved in animation would have been translated differently in live-action.
Bo-Katan: From then to now
Sackhoff also revealed in her interview that Bo-Katan had greatly evolved from when we originally met her in The Clone Wars. She went from being loyal to Death Watch to being one of the biggest rebels when she attempted to rescue her sister, Satine, and failed.
Bo even became the bigger person when she agreed to work with Ahsoka when Maul was running rampant with the Shadow Collective. She may have her flaws but that’s the whole point of character development. Sackhoff even agrees that her character was not a good person in the beginning and that she had to grow into the Mand’alor role. She also stated that the character’s voice deepened over time as Bo struggled to find her true identity.
As the character developed, it became clear how different Bo-Katan and Satine were. The duchess was the one that was entrenched in politics while the lady was the warrior. Sackhoff also was not afraid to bring up her character’s thoughts of sense of importance which became a talking point with Filoni when it came to Bo’s ego.
Lady Kryze’s ego helped transform her into someone who had been on multiple sides of the conflict. When we meet her in The Clone Wars, she is a member of Death Watch before she switches alliances. Sackhoff even stated that to her, Bo’s transformation from rebel to leader is a metaphor for life. We hadn’t thought of it that way, but it makes total sense.
Sackhoff is just a massive nerd like the rest of us
When actors sign onto a franchise, they often don’t realize how big their role is going to be. Katee Sackhoff, however, did as she is a fan like the rest of us:
"And I had tears in my eyes this morning when I saw the first picture of her that somebody had tweeted. I lost my mind. She is such a perfect representation of who she was in Clone Wars and Rebels."
Sackhoff continued in her Star Wars interview by saying she often can’t believe — even after 10 years — that she a beloved member of a galaxy far, far, away.
On a personal note, it is such an honor to see Bo’s story come full circle, but that by no means is the end of her heroics. We fully suspect her to appear again at some point given the role the Darksaber plays and that it is still in Moff Gideon’s clutches.
How much did you enjoy Sackhoff’s live-action debut as Bo-Katan? Let us know below!