‘The Mandalorian’ star Emily Swallow talks about The Armorer and importance of keeping traditions of Mandalore alive
The actress also talked about The Armorer’s responsibilities, of life in a post-Empire world and the challenges in portraying a character covered entirely in armor.
‘The Mandalorian’ introduces a wide array of new characters to the ‘Star Wars’ universe, but perhaps none so commanding as The Armorer. The leader of a Mandalorian clan, The Armorer, is responsible for keeping the traditions of Mandalore alive.
We’ve spoken with Emily Swallow, who plays the character, in an exclusive interview with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW). She talks about The Armorer’s responsibilities, of life in a post-Empire world, and the challenges in portraying a character covered entirely in armor.
What can you tell us about The Armorer and the role she has to play in ‘The Mandalorian’? Will we be seeing more of her?
The Armorer is the covert leader of a Mandalorian clan in hiding. She’s a spiritual leader of sorts and the keeper of the old traditions of Mandalore. Their history, and loyalty to their ways, is incredibly important to her. She’s also a warrior and an expert in beskar foundry work, which is how we first see her meet The Mandalorian. She helps him repair and improve upon his armor; she is only able to provide him with a single shoulder pauldron, and it sure would be nice for him to have more improvements, but we’ll see.
What is your take on the Mandalorian culture and way of life?
They have established a code of loyalty that is central to retaining the core of who they are as warriors, and I think that’s what The Armorer is trying to keep them from forgetting. She is the keeper of their history and she is there both to keep them strong by being properly fitted with armor, but also strong in spirit by retaining their loyalty to each other and their code. “This is the way”.
Besides The Armorer and Pedro Pascal’s Mandalorian, what other Mandalorians appear in the series?
We got to see most of the remaining clan that has been in hiding when they came to rescue The Mandalorian from the bounty hunters trying to take The Child back from him. Now that they’ve been exposed, they’ll have to find a new refuge, so hopefully, we'll get to find out where they’ve gone!
How has life changed for The Armorer since the fall of the Empire?
The benefits to be gained from the fall of the Empire haven’t yet reached the farther outposts in the galaxy where most of our story takes place. Overall, it’s good that the Empire has fallen, but the Mandalorians are yet to reacquire the wealth they lost in the form of Beskar steel, and they are still vulnerable to some of the rogue elements vying for power. The Armorer has been striving to bring the Beskar steel back to its rightful owners, with a proper amount set aside for the Foundlings, who are the most vulnerable of all.
How were you introduced to the character?
Jon told me to look at Akira Kurosawa films like Seven Samurai because of the heightened sense of ceremony and the simplicity and deliberateness of movement. That was incredibly helpful as a jumping-off point. I knew very little, other than that she is a leader among the Mandalorians, and someone who is held in high esteem. They also described her as being “zen-like,” so I felt that she would carry her authority with ease and gentleness.
What are the challenges in portraying characters who are armored from head to toe, with all facial expressions covered?
I loved the challenge of it and was able to draw a bit from mask work I'd done in grad school at NYU. We shot Episodes 1 and 3 at the same time, and directors Dave Filoni and Deborah Chow gave us time and space to find the language of these masks and armor together. We found that small movements could have a big impact, which was sometimes useful and sometimes distracted from the story we were trying to tell, so we really had to be specific and intentional while we were learning to move in this new way.
The next episode of 'The Mandalorian' airs on November 12 on Disney+.