The actor who first voiced the role in animation tells StarWars.com about continuing to participate in Lady Kryze’s evolution in live action on The Mandalorian Season 3.
Katee Sackhoff has played Bo-Katan Kryze for over a decade, starting as the voice of the redheaded Mandalorian on Star Wars: The Clones Wars, but she’s still getting used to inhabiting the role in live action on The Mandalorian.
As Season 3 of the hit Disney+ series continues with new episodes each Wednesday, Bo-Katan has emerged as a formidable co-star to Pedro Pascal’s Din Djarin, the eponymous Mandalorian, and the fan-favorite Grogu. In the season premiere, we found the one-time heir to the throne of Mandalore now sitting idly by on her throne on Kalevala. Well, maybe not entirely idle. “Like a baller?” Sackhoff offers helpfully. The unique posture was the result of Sackhoff and show creator Jon Favreau working to define the character’s current state of being. “That was a really big thing for Jon and I,” Sackhoff tells StarWars.com. “He kept having me sit, and then walk back, and sit, and walk back. He wanted it to seem…slightly disrespectful,” she adds, pausing to laugh mid-thought. “It's not the way that you would normally see royalty sit on a throne. I think that may be a sort of metaphor for part of her issues.”
Sackhoff speaks about Bo-Katan as one might an old friend (she’s previously told StarWars.com about dreaming as her animated counterpart). Still, it’s taken some adjusting to accept her own face staring back at her in the full armor of Lady Kryze, Sackhoff says. “You know, it's a completely different medium and I don't think I realized how different it was, to be honest, until I actually stepped on stage. I thought that I had done all of the work and realized that I didn't actually know how Bo-Katan moved and talked and held herself. All of a sudden, I felt completely unprepared even though I knew so much about her and her backstory.”
In Season 2 of The Mandalorian, Bo-Katan’s first appearance in live action felt to Sackhoff like creators were paying homage to the animated Kryze. “I don't think anybody really anticipated that she would be back to this extent. And if they did, they didn't tell me!” she continues. “For this season, I wanted to lean in and own pieces of her more. We worked on the hair and her freckles might be a little bit more pronounced. I wanted her to look slightly different, not so much just cut out of animation, but that she looks like she belongs in this world.”
Doubles to match
Having stunt doubles in the series is a departure from when Sackhoff first entered showbusiness, ultimately winning her physically-demanding breakout role as Kara “Starbuck” Thrace on Battlestar Galactica. “When I started in this industry, it was really hard to find doubles to match me,” Sackhoff says. “You know, I was always just slightly bigger than most of the women around that were actors at the time and the stunt doubles, they just couldn't find anyone. I was doubled by a man at one point.” The disparity pushed Sackhoff to perform more of her own stunt work. “It was literally me doing my own stunts because the match was not perfect, and I wanted it to look believable.”
As the industry has evolved and Sackhoff has gotten older, things have changed. “I've realized that, number one, I don't bounce back as well as I used to,” Sackhoff says. “But also, I think that if I take my ego out of it and, and acknowledge that we are trying to create the best character and the most realistic, amazing, crazy-tough woman in the world, in this character… I can't do all of that and that would be egotistical to think that I can. So, there were a few different women in this suit this year, and every one of them served a phenomenal purpose to make Bo as fierce as possible.” However, there’s one move that Sackhoff perfected. “I have a wicked knee slide! Every once in a while, when I can do a knee slide, I definitely do a knee slide.”
“She's made a lot of mistakes…”
This season, Bo-Katan has entered a new phase for the character’s life. At the end of Season 2, she went to confront Moff Gideon only to have Din Djarin win the Darksaber from the former Imperial by besting him in combat. And so far, this season she’s returned to Mandalore, rescued Djarin twice, glimpsed a Mythosaur in the Living Waters, and watched her home be destroyed by the Imperial remnant. The journey led her into hiding with the Children of the Watch, Djarin’s Mandalorian covert, which accepted the two apostates.
The story progression put Sackhoff opposite Emily Swallow’s character, the Armorer, for the first time in the series. Swallow has said she entertains herself and her colleagues between takes by coming up with her own Mandalorian spinoff reality shows like The Bachelorlorian and Pimp My Ship, two ideas that still have Sackhoff giggling months later. “We all spend a lot of time together, and we put our heart and soul into this. It's a lot of long hours. I'm not gonna lie and say that sitting in a suit for 16 hours a day is comfortable. So you do things to sort of keep morale up. The crew's working super hard and, and you know, Emily is definitely the person who usually makes people laugh.”
That levity is welcome both for the cast and crew laboring on set and for Sackhoff, delving into the emotional depths of Bo-Katan’s state of mind. “This is a woman who has had a lot of challenges in her life, a lot of heartache and disappointments,” Sackhoff says of Bo-Katan’s story in The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. “She's always done what she thought was right for the Mandalorian people…And she's made a lot of mistakes in the process. I think that she wears all of that and there's so much guilt and so much turmoil. That plays itself out a little bit this season. For her to not take the Darksaber [in Season 2 is] such a huge moment.” Clearly, something has changed for Kryze. “Something's different, you know? There's a reason why she didn't, and I think it lends itself to who she has become and where she's going.”
And the fans have embraced Sackhoff and Bo-Katan’s joint leap to Star Wars live action. After the surprise debut in The Mandalorian, Sackhoff delighted in watching fan reactions online. “One of my favorite things to do last year — I mean, I didn't do it like repeatedly, that would be kind of weird, — but I watched the fan reaction compilation that was put together of Bo showing up, and it just warmed my heart,” she says. “I was so happy that she was so well received. I mean, listen: love her, hate her. You can hate her. She's done some pretty appalling things in her existence. But the reaction and overall excitement — and to see people instantaneously know who she was, the moment she landed… was really cool. I loved it.”
As Bo-Katan’s journey continues, Sackhoff is tight-lipped about what’s in store, confirming only this: she did learn a new stunt move for Season 3. “But if I told you about it, it would give things away,” she says with a laugh. “That's one of the fun things. There's always a skill that I'm relearning and a different type of fighting style for different characters. Bo has a finesse to her.”