[This story contains spoilers for The Mandalorian “Chapter 19: The Convert.”]
The Mandalorian star Katee Sackhoff has pulled off the impossible.
Sackhoff knows full well how rare it is for a voice role to become a live-action role, but she made the leap as of Mandalorian season two, having already voiced Mandalorian warrior Bo-Katan Kryze periodically on Star Wars animated series The Clone Wars and Rebels since 2012. Of course, the Oregon native is also self-aware enough to know that her existing body of live-action work on beloved series like Battlestar Galactica and Longmire made the jump more viable.
“I take into consideration that I, for the bulk of my career, have not been out making period rom-coms. To a certain extent, I have played characters that are very similar to Bo-Katan, so I do understand how the transition was easier to imagine,” Sackhoff tells The Hollywood Reporter.
In the most recent episode of The Mandalorian, “Chapter 19: The Convert,” directed by Lee Isaac Chung, and written by Noah Kloor and Jon Favreau, Bo-Katan found herself redeemed by Din Djarin’s (Pedro Pascal) Mandalorian cult, The Children of the Watch. Surprisingly, Sackhoff has an optimistic view of the event despite previously being at odds with this group of zealots.
“The idea that these people accept her with open arms is intriguing to her. I also don’t know if Bo has ever felt so readily accepted by anyone, and in her mind, she’s probably thinking that this might work,” Sackhoff says.
At the beginning of the episode, Bo-Katan purposefully kept her cards close to her armored vest regarding her mythosaur sighting in the waters of Mandalore, and Sackhoff believes that she’s just erring on the side of caution.
“I think she’s concerned that she’s going to sound crazy. She literally saw the symbol of her people that she thought was a metaphor. And I don’t think that she’s ready to risk that yet for a person [Din Djarin] that she doesn’t really know,” Sackhoff explains.
Below, during a recent conversation with THR, Sackhoff also shares a heartwarming story involving her young child and Grogu.
So when you go to conventions now, what’s the ratio between Starbuck fans and Bo-Katan fans?
It is finally teetering past the 50 percent mark into Bo territory. It’s actually a tossup between Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica, Vic from Longmire and Bo at some conventions, so the metrics on my social media are finally going younger. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with older fans; I love them all, but I’m finally into that 25 to 35 range.
Yeah, I was going to bring up that my dad knows you as Vic Moretti above all else. So you’ve got all the bases covered.
Does he watch The Mandalorian?
He does not. Fantasy and sci-fi isn’t really in his wheelhouse.
Show him episode  with [Bo] walking away with two guns on her hips and just say, “Does that walk look familiar?” He’ll go, “Oh yeah.” (Laughs.) It’s so funny because my husband was like, “You really do have swishy hips.” (Laughs.)
Battlestar co-creator Ron Moore worked on a short-lived Star Wars live-action show a decade ago. Have the two of you been able to catch up since you’ve joined The Mandalorian?
We have not, actually, but he’s definitely told me that he was excited for me and things like that. Starbuck was such a gift, and Ron Moore is such a talented person. I used to always say that to be a fly on the wall of his brain would just be so special, and it has been the goal of my career to do a complete circle and work with him again.
Whether it’s animation or video games, it’s very rare for a voice/capture performer to reprise their exact role in live-action, even if they work in live-action regularly. You’ve done it, as has Merle Dandridge on The Last of Us, but are you hopeful that your lead will open more doors for other original performers?
I do hope, but I’m also pragmatic about it as well. I take into consideration that I, for the bulk of my career, have not been out making period rom-coms. To a certain extent, I have played characters that are very similar to Bo-Katan, so I do understand how the transition was easier to imagine, if you will. But just as a viewer, I want to see the person who’s right for the role. One hundred percent. But I do believe that every voice actor, if they have a career in live-action, should get a crack, for sure. But I also don’t believe that it should be a given in every circumstance.
Are you still in shock that this call came? This sort of thing just doesn’t happen.
It doesn’t happen, and I’m overwhelmed by the reception of this character. The fact that people love watching her and that she seems to have been accepted by everyone is really cool. The best compliment that anyone can give you as a performer is that they love to watch a character you’ve helped create. So I’m just blown away by the fact that this happened and that I was allowed to play this character in live-action. All of it has been amazing, and it just keeps getting better.
So, as the story goes, you didn’t know that Luke Skywalker was the cloaked figure when you shot the end of Mandalorian season two. Were you more in the loop this season?
I was, yeah. So, during season two, I would get my scenes, and that’s really all I saw. But this season, I have all of the scripts, and I have a much broader scope of what’s happening around me. I had the scene that Luke Skywalker was in, but it said, “Plo Koon.” (Laughs.) I was completely misled and lied to by Dave Filoni, and I love him so much for it. But I’m so glad that everyone did that because it allowed me to go on that journey with the fans and be just as surprised. So I loved that.
At the end of “Chapter 19: The Convert,” the Armorer (Emily Swallow) tells Bo-Katan that she is also redeemed, but she’s not exactly jumping for joy, is she?
Not really. I think that she’s weighing her options. At the beginning of the episode, we see that everything she has is gone now. Everything. She’s lost her home. She’s lost her home world. She’s lost her family. She’s lost her people. She’s lost the Darksaber. She has nothing left. And so the idea that these people accept her with open arms is intriguing to her. I also don’t know if Bo has ever felt so readily accepted by anyone, and in her mind, she’s probably thinking that this might work.
Was Bo’s redemption unwelcome news for you, personally, since it meant more helmet time, at least for now?
(Laughs.) I love working in the helmet. It’s a different challenge being in the helmet than the days where my face is uncovered. It is always interesting to try and sell emotion with just my body and my head, but I get so excited. I like to watch the takes. I run back to the monitor, I watch it back and I try to ask myself, “What does that look like she’s thinking?” And then we go again, and we do it again. So I welcome the days with the helmet, and I also don’t have to put the wig on, which makes life easier, too. Those are also great days because it’s not as hot.
So why is she playing coy about seeing the mythosaur? Why didn’t she tell Mando?
I think she’s concerned that she’s going to sound crazy. She literally saw the symbol of her people that she thought was a metaphor. Is she going crazy all of a sudden? She was just under extreme circumstances, so she could have imagined it. And I don’t think that she’s ready to risk that yet for a person that she doesn’t really know, so I just think she’s trying to figure out what that means right now.
When we met her again this season, she was in a funk. Her crew bailed on her with the stolen ship, and she’d given up her designs to retake Mandalore. Was this mythosaur sighting the wake-up call she needed?
It could be. It just depends on the way that she decides to interpret it and what it means and what exactly it’s telling her. But I don’t know. I think the biggest wake-up call for Bo was the death of her sister [Satine] years ago, and everything she’s done since that moment has been to try and make amends for that moment.
Wherever she goes, destruction follows, be it Mandalore or now Kryze Castle. Has part of her entertained the idea that she’s cursed or snake-bitten?
That’s probably part of what’s going through her mind right now, but I also think that she’s smart enough to know that it’s not necessarily her and that it’s the means and the ways that she’s gone about everything. That’s what she is questioning right now. She is thinking to herself that maybe she wasn’t meant to lead.
When your daughter grows up and asks you about your time on The Mandalorian, what day are you going to tell her about first?
So my daughter was on set a lot this season, and I have so many pictures of her. Of course, she wasn’t supposed to go to set, but I would just wander around with her. (Laughs.) She was so little; I could have hid her inside my suit. But I have pictures of her with droids when she was 3 months old, and she was just mind-blown at these things. I’ve got pictures of her in the pram with Grogu. They look like they’re on a ride at Disneyland. So I’m sure she’s going to grow up thinking that there’s not a cool bone in her mom’s body, which is totally fine. But I’ll just bring out the pictures of her crying in a pram with Grogu and make them our Christmas card or something. (Laughs.) Those are just cool memories and things that she can remember me by, even after I’m gone.
I hope you’ve found some wall space to put up those photos.
I’m waiting for the right moment to ask Disney for all of those photos.
Well, Katee Sackhoff, congratulations on The Mandalorian and Bo-Katan, and please give my best to Kara Thrace.
I believe she’s dead! (Laughs.)
She’s still a part of you!
She’s in the sun with Anders, somewhere. (Laughs.)
Is there any reality where you and the Battlestar cast reunite for a one-off special or something limited?
I know that we would all want to, but I also know that the plans to remake Battlestar are not with us. So I can only speak for myself, but I’m excited for the property to live on. If I was upset about it, I would be a hypocrite, because it’ll probably be just as long between the original [1978-79’s Battlestar Galactica] and ours [2004-09] as there will be between ours and someone else’s. So it’s been 20 years [since we started], and I’m just excited to see what someone else can do with it. But a couple years ago, we did a read-through of “33” at Tricia’s [Helfer] house, and I think that that lives online, someplace. That was really cool.
The Mandalorian is now airing on Disney+. This interview was edited for length and clarity.