Ming-Na Wen gushes about the brilliance of Deborah Chow, the first woman to direct a live-action Star Wars story
by Jaskiran Kaur | Fri, 14 Jan 2022 16:33:02 GMT
Image Source: The Hollywood Reporter, PNGKit

Considering that directors meet at least 100 aspiring actors and actresses at the parties they attend, it must be so difficult to find a new face that could actually do justice to a part. But at times, chance encounters of networking in Hollywood parties lead to amazing casting roles, and one such event was the casting of Ming-Na Wen in The Mandalorian. The actress still says that she was surprised that she landed the role in the first place when she was by chance introduced to director Deborah Chow

Wem was introduced to The Mandolarian director by Tamlyn Tomita, her friend, and castmate from The Joy Luck Club. Tomita knew that Wen was a Star Wars nerd and hence introduced her to the director. 

This eventually led to the director and actress getting to know each other. Wen shared, “We ended up talking and we had a lot in common.” “And then we eventually got around talking about ‘Star Wars.’ Now events like this, when someone says, ‘you would be amazing’ for a part that they’re looking for, nine times out of 10, you’re just like, ‘OK, great, thank you.’ But lo and behold, Dave Filoni calls my team and says they wanted to offer me a part. As they say, the rest is history,” added the actress. Dave Filoni is the ‘The Mandalorian’ exec producer. 

As Wen sat down with Variety to talk on an episode of "Up Next," presented by Facebook, the actress shared all the inside details about getting to work with the famed director and how she is to change the face of Star Wars. Not only did The Mandolarian become a big success under the directorship of Chow, but the director also introduced the Baby Yoda character, which will forever be the favorite of every Star Wars fan out there. 

Later, Chow told Vanity Fair about how she came around creating Baby Yoda. She revealed, “I worked with the puppeteers and the visual effects, and just worked with it like it was an actor. It would just be about emotion. I’m not going to try to tell them technically how to do it. But we would talk through it.”

Of course, her amazing directorship credence meant that Wen was also smitten with Chow and her work. The actress said, “There’s a quiet force to her that is so calming. And it comes from such an incredible, sincere place. I was just proud when I met her. She was smart. She had clarity of her vision.” “I can’t say enough about her. Nobody makes it in this business without working your ass off. And she does,” continued Wen. 

Owing to Chow's brilliance in The Mandalorian, the filmmaker landed the directing reins for Obi-Wan Kenobi and will direct all the episodes of the Disney Plus series. 

Elaborating on the director's finesse for her craft, Wen added, “When you have someone in charge as a director, you need someone who’s not only just a good leader. You need someone who is humane and fair and patient and is able to get the acting and the collaboration of everyone on set. And Deborah just has that gift.” 

“You could be the most talented director in the world with the greatest vision, but if you don’t have those people skills, you can’t make the project as good as it can be. So I think anyone who wants someone like that, Deborah Chow, is an easy choice.”

The director herself told Vanity Fair what it was like to direct The Mandalorian. The director revealed that she spent a lot of time pouring over Star Wars content and was constantly surrounded by people who mentored her through the process. She told how The Mandalorian also helped prepare her to hold the reins for Obi-Wan Kenobi. The director shared, "One of the biggest benefits is that I just spent the last year in the “Star Wars'' universe and I had great mentors, coming in under Jon and Dave. Absorbing that, I feel, was the best training I could have had to take on the next one."

Sharing her directing technique, she added, "So much of it is just feeling it and understanding it, on an instinctual level, to know what’s right and what’s wrong with it. And there’s so much knowledge — every prop, every costume is important. Every detail really matters."

Notably, Deborah Chow became the first woman, and particularly also the first woman of Asian origin to direct a live-action Star Wars story. Saying what it was like to reach the hallmark point, the director said, “Even when I first got this job, it didn’t even cross my mind. I don’t know what fairyland I was in, to not think this was significant. But I went through prep and it didn’t occur to me until somebody said it on one of the first days of shooting.” 

There is already Bryce Dallas Howard, who directs some of the episodes and other women directors, too, but no one who reached where Chow could. “It didn’t occur to me that I was the first one to leap,” said the director. 

Deborah Chow became the first Asian woman to direct a Live-action Star Wars film; Credits: Vanity Fair

“I want it to be about the work. I want to be a good director, not a good female director, not a good Asian director. But by the same token, obviously, my career path and the representation… It is important. It is meaningful. I want to see more women directors and I want to see more directors of color.”