Given just how secretive Disney and Lucasfilm are about The Mandalorian, fans were waiting basically until the most recent episode to get concrete confirmation that Daredevil vet Rosario Dawson was playing the live-action iteration of The Clone Wars' Ahsoka Tano. Thankfully, that wait was completely worth it, as Dawson was about as perfect as can be as the fan-favorite character. It turns out Star Wars' aces storyteller Dave Filoni got some advice from Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy that was key to convincing him the actress was right for the role.
During an interview with Vanity Fair about all things Ahsoka Tano and Mandalorian, Rosario Dawson talked about her personal and career history with Star Wars prequel trilogy vet Hayden Christensen, whose Anakin Skywalker was the Jedi Master to the Padawan Ahsoka in Clone Wars. But while she humorously gives the Force credit for her landing the Mandalorian role, Dave Filoni explained that it really came down to a simple and straightforward piece of advice he got from Star Wars' head honcho Kathleen Kennedy. In his words:
When I was first exploring the possibility of directing live-action, I asked Kathleen Kennedy about casting and when you knew someone was right for a part. She thought about it and said, 'You just know.' And she was right. When I met Rosario, I just knew she was right for Ahsoka. Yes, there was the tweet and her interest in the part; yes, she has been in action movies and is a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy stories; yes, she knew Hayden Christensen and pictures of them together look like Anakin and Ahsoka. But in the end, when I met her and we talked, I just knew.
When it came to casting a beloved character that he'd created for animation, Dave Filoni essentially relied on his gut instinct to guide his decision-making, which isn't exactly like the Force, but it still feels like Jedi behavior all the same. In the same way that many Star Wars fans instantly embraced the idea of Rosario Dawson taking on the role of Ahsoka Tano, Filoni felt that she was indeed the one after just having a conversation with her.
Though Kathleen Kennedy's advice may sound like a no-brainer, it's pretty easy to understand that casting a Star Wars project is a situation that can cause untold amounts of stress and second-guessing. Had Dave Filoni met 1,000 actresses who could potentially fill the role, it would have been a giant headache to sort through and figure out how to arbitrarily judge and rank the most promising performers. But that presumably wasn't needed, because Filoni took Kennedy's words to heart and followed his instincts when they told him Rosario Dawson was a prime pick to wield dual white lightsabers as Ahsoka Tano.
It may have only taken a personal interaction with her to convince him, but Dave Filoni obviously wasn't ignoring all of the other elements that made Rosario Dawson sound tailored for the role. She's been in plenty of action movies and knows her way around a choreographed fist fight, and her fondness for genre projects has earned her a sizable fandom, and that fanbase's enthusiasm for her to join Star Wars is basically how she got interested in the role in the first place.
Now, is there a certain part of me that wishes Dave Filoni "just knew" that Clone Wars actress Ashley Eckstein would have been perfect to bring her animated character into live-action? Absolutely, since that actress' vocal evolution is a big reason why Ahsoka has resonated so strongly with fans. That said, Eckstein herself is pleased that Ahsoka's debut on Mandalorian has introduced the Force-sensitive badass to tons of viewers that haven't yet watched Clone Wars or Star Wars Rebels, but will likely now do so after witnessing the character's allure.
The Mandalorian's "The Jedi" was arguably the best episode yet of the Disney+ action-adventure, as it featured badass fight sequences, excellent guest stars in Michael Biehn and former Disney Imagineer Wing T. Chao (among others), Baby Yoda's real name and backstory and several other major Star Wars references that will no doubt open up Mando's storyline while also allowing the opportunity to craft spinoff series. We likely won't see Rosario Dawson's Ahsoka Tano again before the season has wrapped, but here's hoping for spinoff news coming down the pipeline soon.
The Mandalorian drops new episodes on Disney+ on Fridays at 3:01 a.m. ET, and there are somehow only three episodes left in Season 2. While waiting to see where Mando and Baby...Grogu...go next, head to our Fall TV 2020 premiere schedule and our Winter and Spring 2021 TV guide to see what other new and returning shows are on the horizon.