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The Book of Boba Fett stars Temuera Morrison and Ming-Na Wen weighed in on a couple of the show’s very modest controversies during their virtual Television Critics Association press tour panel on Friday.
First up, the duo were asked about criticisms of the Disney+ Star Wars show’s handling of its Tusken Raider characters. During the first three episodes, a tribe of the desert-dwelling warriors taught Boba Fett (Morrison) their ways. The tribe was then abruptly killed off, and Fett solemnly burned their bodies. The Raiders were portrayed as simple-minded brutes in the Star Wars films, and both The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett have been praised for handling the Indigenous characters with more humanity. But their deaths drew some backlash online.
“[Their portrayal] was better than it was [in the films],” Morrison said. “Then I read [in the script that] we were throwing dead bodies just on the fire and I was going, ‘Oh, hang on, we got to put a bit of ceremony into this.’ But they are the Indigenous of the sands of Tatooine, and I was creating a little bit more history about their own culture — and I was pulling from my own culture, in a way, in terms of the ceremonies and preparing the warrior and preparing a weapon. And Boba has never experienced a real family before — with the young Tuskens and the old Tuskens — and protecting their land.”
Added Wen: “We knew so little about the Tuskens, and [the show] really gave them an incredible backstory. … I thought all those elements really enrich who the Tuskens are, … and [setting the bodies on fire] was part of Star Wars, with A New Hope, whether it’s the Jawas, when they were attacked, there is this ceremonious desire on Tatooine to burn the bodies as opposed to letting them lie out in the open in the desert.”
Another issue raised by a critic was episode three’s instantly notorious biker gang that some fans compared to the Power Rangers. In the episode, a group of Tatooine street kids (including Yellowjackets star Sophie Thatcher) aid Boba Fett while riding colorful, shiny, Vespa-like hover-scooters.
Asked about the bikers, Morrison replied, “Some of these things are out of our control. We can’t say as performers, ‘We don’t want to work with these people, that’s not good enough.’ … They brought a lot of color to it, I thought … they were great, were working hard.”
Once again, Wen helpfully pointed out some Star Wars history, noting, “This is a real homage to the things [creator] George Lucas always loved — whether it was the Mods in the ’60s, or [Lucas’ hot rod film] American Graffiti. At the same time, it lends itself to learning more about Tatooine. And Sophie was a lovely human being, and I definitely enjoyed getting to know her.”
Previously, showrunner Robert Rodriguez had teased there might be some controversial non-Star Wars-ian color elements in the series, noting that fans would “know it when they see it.”
Wen was also asked about being an action hero at the age of 58.
“I like representing older, strong females,” she said. “I do have a certain set of skills — whether it’s martial arts or kickboxing or learning stunt fighting. But it used to be that when a woman reached 40, they’d get put out to pasture. I’m far beyond that now, and it’s great that I can still continue to do this. I feel very privileged and honored, and I’m living out my dream of being in a Star Wars project. I’m going to kick butt for as long as I can.”
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