‘The Mandalorian’: Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon Was Inspired By the Oldest ‘Star Wars’ Villain

The villains of Disney+’s The Mandalorian are all inspired by the original trilogy, which makes the backgrounds of each nemesis all the more interesting. For instance, mysterious “The Client” (played by Werner Herzog) gave hints toward him being a unnamed leader of the Galactic Empire.

The same goes for one of the most popular villains of all in the show: Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito).

If that villain feels familiar, Esposito made it intentional. According to a recent interview with the actor, he had no real knowledge about the character, or Star Wars.

Knowing this might automatically generate a response not unlike the one against Gwyneth Paltrow endured not being familiar with Marvel comic books. The good news is Esposito did extensive Star Wars research and delved into one key figure.

The influence James Earl Jones had on Giancarlo Esposito to play Moff Gideon

Giancarlo Esposito
Giancarlo Esposito | Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb

Screen Rant recently cited an interview Esposito did with IMDb where he talked about getting the call from Jon Favreau to play Moff Gideon without knowing anything. Esposito’s research immediately turned to the one and only voice of Darth Vader: James Earl Jones.

That famous, resonate voice was a big influence on Esposito when younger as a fellow African-American with acting dreams. Thankfully, Star Wars was practicing diversity early in their cast thanks to casting Jones’s voice and Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian.

According to Esposito:

And then thinking about what that character is, you ask a lot of questions as I do, and then I thought immediately, ‘Wow, James Earl Jones. Darth Vader.’ How he affected me in my life. Who was inside that helmet, who was inside that costume? That could be a part of who Moff Gideon is, but guess what? I don’t have to wear the helmet.”

Exploring Darth Vader allows Esposito to realize the mystery of villainy, something Star Wars does better than anybody. The fact that they delayed Moff Gideon from appearing in The Mandalorian until the final episode of the season says a lot about their long stretch in revealing what Gideon’s motivations are.

Will Esposito play Moff Gideon with a similar Darth Vader frame of mind?

No one should forget learning more about Darth Vader took three movies, plus the prequels, to make him more rounded. The second season of The Mandalorian next fall will likely reveal more about what Gideon has up his sleeve with The Child (Baby Yoda).

As Esposito notes in his above IMDb interview, he thinks the character will have a complex motivation, placing him in the grey areas of all villains. If so, this takes directly from the MCU playbook where many of their villains are doing things one could say have alternative right sides and wrongs.

Going this route was not something Star Wars always did in the original trilogy days. Those films mostly brought a more cut and dry dichotomy between good and evil. One could still argue Darth Vader was more in the grey area since he ended up evil due to circumstance and still had a love for his son, Luke.

Esposito seems to have no intention of giving away anything about Gideon, which should assure fans about him not being a blabber. Since Darth Vader is the inspiration, fans might start to assume the two characters have similar trajectories.

Moff Gideon may think his Imperial presence will bring more peace and order

Just like Thanos thought wiping out half of all life would help earth stabilize environmentally, Moff Gideon may take directly from that idea in a villain bringing a better world. The complexity of Moff Gideon being respected on the planet of Nevarro (where he rules at the moment) may bring a better argument of bringing stabilization over lawlessness of the times.

His trajectory may fall in line with Darth Vader who more or less did the same, yet died realizing his mistake. Since Gideon wants The Child more than anyone yet understands, it might lead to his own demise eventually…likely not for a long time.

Viewers may soon find out Gideon wants to become a new Darth Vader after once being an Imperial governor. On a smaller scale, that might have happened long before the First Order came into being.