You gave voice to Bo-Katan in animation, and now you’re playing her in a live-action TV series. What can’t you do in live action that you could before?
Everything. I’m such an excitable person. My face moves so much, my hands move so much. That is not who Bo-Katan is. Bo-Katan is very stoic. She’s very regal and she’s very purposeful. She’s studying people the entire time and trying to figure out how they fit into her quest, for lack of a better word. So I had to relearn all of that because all of my characters that I’ve played have pieces of Katee in them. Especially when you play characters in television, and you’re going to play them for long periods of time, you use pieces of you because they’re going to come out anyway. So you might as well just put them in there. Bo-Katan, you can’t do that. It would be so distracting to her as a character. So I had to relearn all of that, which was very hard. And [the director] Bryce Dallas Howard helped me find the right way of explaining that when she said it’s like Pinocchio. I’ve been a wooden boy for so long and now I’m learning to walk and talk as a real boy. And that helped me, and it gave me a sort of calmness in my fear, in my insecurities because I now had a way to say I’m feeling too wooden, I’m not feeling real boy enough.
Were women like Linda Hamilton and Sigourney Weaver, who were the first generation of cinematic female action heroes in films like Terminator and Alien, an influence on you?
They were vitally important to me finding a voice as an actor. As a little girl, I grew up wanting to be Bruce Willis. I really did. Because he was so cool and he was amazing. I wanted to be him because there wasn’t the wide representation of strong women in cinema. They were strong women accomplishing certain things, but you didn’t see women with muscles running around. So for me, Linda Hamilton and Sigourney Weaver were so important to me as a girl and as a woman. I go back to them constantly because there is a piece of them that is so both of those women in the pivotal roles that we all know them from, that we’re speaking of right now, are so sexy in their strength. But they didn’t lean into that sex appeal. They leaned into the strength. It’s just sexy. And it was really important to me realising that I had a place in this world and in this career.
In The Mandalorian, you get to wear Mandalorian battle armour and Bo-Katan’s destiny is to wield the Darksaber. These things, like lightsabers, are kind of iconic pieces of the production design of Star Wars. Do you react to those props on set like a fan?
When I was a little kid, I used to sit in cardboard boxes and pretend that they were race cars. This is where I honed my acting ability with a lot of cardboard boxes and imagination as a child. And when you physically see yourself as one of these characters, when you hold the helmet, when you get to actually see the spaceship and you don’t have to climb in a cardboard box, it is so hard to not be a geeky little kid. I still am blown away. When you get to stand on [Din Djarin’s ship] the Razor Crest, when you get to do these things and they’re actually there, this is everything I dreamed of doing as a child. It is such a vast exploration in make-belief. And it’s crazy. Putting that Mandalorian armour on, I walk differently as Bo-Katan now. I put it on and there’s my posture stand straight up and I get very concentrated because it’s hard not to. It’s so cool, when I was holding her helmet, the way that, for fans of The Clone Wars, how we’ve come to know Bo holding her helmet. When I did that for the first time in the mirror in my trailer, I remember looking in the mirror and just being like, holy crap, this is insane. And yeah, every dream I had as a child is slowly, throughout my career, just checking off those boxes.
The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney+.