The Bad Batch: Roundtable With Ming-Na Wen and Showrunners Plus “Lost Bounty” Review
We recently attended the virtual press conference for Star Wars: The Bad Batch where we spoke with showrunners Brad Rau and Jennifer Corbett and Fennec Shand herself, the amazing Ming-Na Wen! We discuss today’s new episode and the reveal about Omega, and they answered several of our questions including what we can expect from Fennec Shand in the upcoming live-action series The Book of Boba Fett! Here is our full coverage of the event which includes the video and a full transcript of the interviews.
Beware, there is a spoiler for the new The Bad Batch episode “Lost Bounty” in Ming-Na Wen’s reply to our question!
Ming-Na Wen Interview
Star Wars News Net: “What do you think fans should take away from your character’s role in ‘The Bad Batch’ as we obviously head into ‘The Book of Boba Fett’?
Wen: “When we would see bounty hunters most of them were either male or alien nondescript in that way or in uniform. I think it’s kind of cool to see sort of this young civilian female bounty hunter who’s able to kind of keep up, if not, be feared by the others and making a mark for herself. I think it’s a great role model, in many ways, for women even though she’s an assassin. I know okay, okay that’s a technicality, but I love roles like that. Where she’s sort of an outsider and yet she makes up her own rules, and she believes in herself. She believes in what she’s capable of doing and she’s fearless in pursuing her goals.”
Dork Side of the Force: “What details did the creators share with you or what background story did you create about Fennec’s origin that helped you inform your performance? Like what motivated her to pursue this kind of life?
Ming-Na Wen: Well it’s kind of difficult for me to talk about that because the stuff that Dave Filoni and I, and the writers of The Bad Batch discussed about what young Fennec Shand would be like and why she became a bounty hunter. We collaborated and we threw out a lot of ideas – you know, threw a lot of ideas out at each other. So I don’t know what will stick and what won’t, so I’m worried that if I reveal something from that conversation that hasn’t been explored yet or brought to life in the animation or in future episodes, in either, you know, down the line or in other venues, um so I can’t discuss that. I really wish I could.
Skywalking Through Neverland Podcast: Is there anything that you’re doing voice acting wise to kind of continue that foxy attitude in ‘The Bad Batch’?
Wen: Well you know, I’m just foxy in general. (laughs) No, it’s interesting because I watched a lot of videos of foxes especially Fennec foxes and there’s a slinkiness to their walk. They’re loners, and they listen. They’re mean. The fennec fox has huge ears, so they’re very, very alert and aware, and another thing that I actually said that like Fennec can read people or she thought she could read people really well except for that one time with Toro but, you know, he has no scruples. That’s why that’s a whole other thing. But for the voice, I wanted to kind of give a little bit of that quality to her so there’s like a sort of a more elongated slinky rhythm that, you know, came from the fox and so when she talks it’s there. There’s a little bit of an exaggeration and a stretching of words here and there, and whenever she does speak it’s, you know, there’s a…there’s a pointed reason for it.
Endor Express: “You are part of ‘The Mandalorian’, ‘The Bad Batch’, ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ – Did you know that you were a bigger part of this galaxy?
Wen: No, as a matter of fact, I had no idea – but boy am I happy that it happened the way it’s happened. When John Favreau and Dave Filoni, offered me this role I was really, really excited because my entire life has been trying to manifest this moment where I got to participate and be part of a Star Wars project, but then when I read the script and she dies at the end I was just like, ‘oh that’s kind of sad.’ So I wasn’t sure, but then, you just realize, ‘Hey, this might be the only opportunity for me to participate so I gotta check this off my bucket list’ and of course talking to John and Dave, I mean, it’s like three people talking the same language because we all love Star Wars so much, and are really knowledgeable about it. So I took the job, Dave directed, and we got to know each other better and discovered that we both grew up in the same town and went to the same high school. So I mean I might have used that as a little bit of an edge to try to guilt him into keeping Fennec alive, but I’m really hoping that it’s between them loving the character and what I brought to it as well as the fan’s reaction to the character. When the episode aired, all this other stuff transpired… but I’m so grateful, so, so happy.
Star Wars Holocron: “Fennec has become this huge character and this fan favorite who’s appeared in live-action and animated. Which different medium in the ‘Star Wars’ canon would you like to see Fennec appear?”
Wen: You know, anything. Anything at all! Bring back the holiday special, whatever! I’m excited about any venture into this universe. Of course, if I got to participate in a cinematic release of a film in the future that would pretty much make me pee in my pants! But yeah, anything. You know, I’m just excited to see the dolls and the toys that are gonna come out. Like I hear that one of the black series is coming out and I’ve collected Star Wars toys since I was little, so this is insane. It’s just unbelievable.
Fangirls Going Rogue: “What does it mean to you to be in such a large property like ‘Star Wars’ as an Asian-American and having the opportunity to be a representation of your community in something like ‘Star Wars’?
Wen: “It’s always great. It’s kind of funny, Jimmy Oyang says ‘Well, you know, it’s not really by choice that I’m representing, it’s just when you’re born looking Asian, it’s just going to be an automatic thing’ so for me, I’m just grateful that there’s been more characters that have been incorporated.
We have green aliens, blue aliens – and what was lacking early on were Asian characters, and now there’s been so many in Rogue One – like Donnie Yen – it’s great! I even wrap Temuera as part of this expansive Asian blanket, I think it’s wonderful. I’m so thankful that the fans like her and because as a big Star Wars fan myself, it’s just a gift. So I’m grateful and and I hope that this sort of success story will only encourage them to want to create more Asian characters – and they’re not specifically Asian, it’s just half us they’re repping.”
Ion Cannon Podcast: “Unlike most bounty hunters, Fennec seems to care about Omega. How do you see the dynamic between your character and Omega?”
Wen: “That is very interesting. I feel like with Fennec, especially young Fennec, she is good at reading people, manipulating, and playing a certain quality to invite herself into that particular person’s trust. So I’m not sure how sincere and genuine her care for Omega is, or if she sees her as a bounty and a gig that she had to fulfill. So that’s really interesting. I appreciate that you think that there is this side of her. I’d like to think there is also a quality and a side to her that she connected with Omega in a certain way, but um we’ll see.
Fantha Tracks: “When playing Fennec in ‘The Bad Batch’ and in ‘The Mandalorian’, do you play them as the same character?”
Wen: “Well I kind of draw from my own. This is what as actors we have to really draw from ourselves and infuse some of our own life experiences and soul to a character to bring them to life. I know that the 22 year-old me is very different from me now, but at the same time, I’m still that geek, nerd girl that every time I get on a new set and I see new toys and the Star Wars characters – I geek out and freak out like I would if I was a teenager. So those are the elements that I try to bring into the younger Fennec. There’s definitely less experience, more ambition, more of a drive to prove who she is and make her mark in the world. So I think her energy, her focus and her tactics might be a little bit more raw and different and I give her a slight – like a very slight little pitch change, but not too much because the difference between her and a seasoned Fennec is in the energy.”
Sy Fy: “How did your fandom start, and how has it influenced your work, and how has it changed since you’ve been able to be a part of it?”
Wen: “Oh wow. I grew up and I came to the United States when I was younger and I had to learn English in third grade. I think for me science fiction and fantasy was always like a great form of escapism, and so I was already a fan of that genre. But when Star Wars came out, I had no idea what it was. We didn’t have social media back then, you just kind of hear word of mouth that there’s another great movie out and everybody was kind of crazy about it. The experience I felt from the moment the music came on and the scrolling of the story, and then the big empirical cruiser going over our heads as a young kid you’re just like it’s endless. It just went on forever. I just knew I was in for an amazing adventure and the connection I felt with Luke Skywalker especially at the time when he looked at the binary sunset. I think this might be for all of us – that one moment. It’s like 30 seconds of celluloid but with the music and him staring out there thinking about ‘Will I ever fulfill my dreams? Will I ever be who I want to become?’ That was me. I totally understood that being a kid stuck in Pittsburgh – I mean not that I was stuck, but I felt stuck – and wanting and dreaming about being an actor, being Asian and being a woman, and knowing the obstacles ahead of me. So I think it was just all of that. I mean the force became a religious experience the whole thing, and I’m sure for you guys too on many levels, right? It’s so cool. It unites us all.
Oh! And then when I got on the set of The Mandalorian and that volume lit up and it was Tatooine with the binary sunset – oh you should have seen how much I freaked out! I cried. I literally cried! I was so happy and then I had the AD take a picture of me looking at the binary sunset.”
Coffee with Kenobi: “Could you describe your acting process for live action versus voice work and how you kind of get yourself in that headspace depending on the outlet?”
Wen: “Right, well I do a lot of voice acting. Right now I’m doing like four or five other animation projects, so the one thing that’s difficult is like keeping all the characters straight in ways because sometimes you literally go in and you’re shooting four or five episodes all at once because they’re just only doing your lines, and so that’s difficult in wanting to bring something to life, and you have to do it very, very quickly. With live action, you have other actors to work off of. You have a set or scenery. You have a director to help you – producers, writers. You have costume, makeup. It’s a full-on process. When you do voice acting you could be in your pjs and in fact with The Bad Batch because of Covid, they brought in all this equipment. The computer – they delivered it all. The microphone, everything. I had to set it up in my home and the only place that I found to be really good for sound buffering was in my closet because of all the clothes. So I did the season of The Bad Batch in my closet. So can you imagine you had to like create this whole – like bring this character to life with your imagination while you’re surrounded by your clothes. It’s pretty crazy. I love it.”
Brad Rau and Jennifer Corbett Interview
Star Wars News Net: “We’ve all been curious about what makes Omega special. Now that this reveal has happened in the most recent episode, that she is more of a daughter than a clone, what are your thoughts on changing the dynamic of the franchise as a whole now by giving Boba Fett a sister? How do you think that will play out in years to come?”
Rau: “Loaded question. Yeah, I mean that’s all very exciting. There’s definitely a mystery that we won’t go into too much today, but we’ve just had a lot of fun playing the mystery up, to be honest. Just to see that there’s something to this kid. Something that makes me excited is when we can show this kid whoever it is, wherever she’s from, whatever her deal is. When you see her training alongside these other guys and failing, honestly sometimes and then seeing her overcome, that’s the most exciting part of her character. More than anything else, but there are other parts of her story to tell that we will be excited for you guys to see in the future.”
Corbett: “To add on to that – there’s a lot about different people’s agendas and what the empire’s interested in versus what Kaminoans are interested in, and even along that, and I’ll say versus Lama Su, but when it comes to The Bad Batch, their take on Omega is pretty much that they don’t care what she is or what she isn’t – which is what that sort of family dynamic is. While others may be interested in her for a different reason, they’re just more about ‘She’s one of us. We’re a team unit and we’re going to train her as best we can. This is our squad now.’”
Skywalking Through Neverland Podcast: “We’ve loved seeing nods to classic generation fans, with characters like Bolo, but why was he credited as Bolo and not Hammerhead?
Brad Rau: “That’s a great question. We love Bolo, voiced by the great Liam O’Brien, and when he got to see the design for his character he said Hammerhead in the Kenner style and we’re like, “Yes Liam that’s correct. That’s what we’re going for, so yeah, that’s intentional. But actually, the original Hammerhead, I believe his name was Momaw Nadon, it’s not actually Hammerhead. So it’s more of everybody’s got their own name. His name is Bolo.”
STNP: “Is there a significance to Bolo?”
Jennifer Corbett: “Of course. I mean it’s more about the dysfunctional friendship between Bolo and Ketch that really spawned that name, but they’re always getting into trouble and yeah they’re fun. They’re fun characters to have in sids.”
Dork Side of the Force: “Crosshairs exposure to the iron blast makes me curious to see where his story will go next, and while developing the series was there a discussion about him following the empire by choice rather than being forced, or if another Bad Batcher had been considered for the part?”
Corbett: “That’s a really good question. Early on in the development process we knew that Crosshair was going to be the one who would sort of be the foil to this group and and be our main antagonist, but you bring up a good point because one of the things we always try to talk about with this series and when The Bad Batch are dealing with the regs, is that question of choice. Because with the chips, they didn’t really have a say and they’re conditioned to follow orders. With Order 66, we see them execute that without hesitation, so what the regs are going through and what Crosshair is going through is something we continue to explore throughout the season. So we don’t want to give too much away, but the discussion of choice is a big topic.”
Fangirls Going Rogue: “I can’t help but notice that there are similarities and story points between ‘The Mandalorian’ and ‘The Bad Batch’, reluctant father figures taking on a younger individual that’s wanted for their genetic material. Were these similarities a coincidence or was it something that you guys did intentionally?”
Rau: “Really for us there are some similarities for sure that rollover the idea of a found family especially with grizzled warriors sort of having parenthood forced upon them, and then learning how to deal with that for good and for bad is just this classic storyline that when we were looking at The Bad Batch, it made sense to go that way really quickly. Not intentional as a symmetrical nod to The Mandalorian necessarily, more so just to create interesting point of view that could get the audience into the series where you might not always identify as a super soldier or as a clone, but as a family as a big brother a little sister – whatever it might be – it seemed like a natural way to get into this show.
Corbett: “I think to ground it in real life. When when you see different families on the surface they all may seem similar or you know have similarities, but really when you get into their dynamic and what they’re going through, that’s where you see the different shades. So I think that’s kind of true with Star Wars as well.”
Fantha Tracks: “As much as the focus is on the characters of progress 99 in the show, there seems to be an equal focus on the era and the world building in that post-order 66 time. Was that always a key element to show us the state of the galaxy as much as the characters within it?”
Rau: “Yeah definitely. I mean and it’s something that we’re really excited about in this era that hasn’t been really explored in the Star Wars timeline. There’s so many things going on, there’s so much change. There’s like a kind of wild west sensibility, and yet, the rise of the empire. How does that look, are things that get us really excited for the the stories that these characters go into 100%.”
Corbett “Especially because like the change in the environment is what starts the show and starts the change in the galaxy. So it’s been fun to get to explore that from the batch’s perspective compared to the regs and Crosshairs perspective with the empire.”
SyFy: “As writers working with the story group, because the show seems to have a lot of overlap with elements they’ve already teased for like ‘The Book of Boba Fett’, what’s that like working with that broader universe? How much does the story group keep you honest on stuff like that as you sprawl into different elements of the universe as writers?”
Corbett: “Very. They keep us very honest. Because as Brad said with this timeline, we have a bit of “wiggle room” before we start getting into Rebels, and even Solo and A New Hope. There’s a opportunity for us to explore lots of things, but anytime we have a story discussion or an episodic discussion the story team weighs in on things that could potentially be an issue or things that could potentially be a tie-in, and if it makes sense creatively that’s something we discuss and talk about, but we’re never really confined by things. It’s just if we like to shoot for the stars and if it gets into a certain area we have to be careful about, then we have a longer discussion on what we’re trying to accomplish and if it can fit with anything else.”
Rau: “There’s also, kind of going off of that, in this era there are a lot of different characters sort of bumping around, so anytime we can maybe see one or two of them in our show we’re just super excited about that.”
Star Wars Holocron: “The show so far is really an ensemble piece, not just within ‘The Bad Batch’ itself, but this great array of side characters. Out of all of these kinds of people we’ve been introduced to, who’s been your favorite to approach so far?”
Rau: “I’ll dive in there. I love Sid. Sid is so good because she gives everybody an equal amount of guff, and it’s just delightful. Rhea Pearlman is such an outstanding actress. It’s been fun seeing how her voice when we first started recording affected some of the future scripts – some of the way that Syd would talk. Then when our animation and lighting department started bringing Sid to life, it’s just this awesome character. It’s exactly the kind of character that I love as a Star Wars fan. So yeah, she’s a blast.”
Corbett: “I personally loved Cad Bane, just being a massive The Clone Wars fan and you know him being so terrifying to watch on screen and intimidating. Having the chance to just see how he interacts with the batch compared to a different bounty hunter and what’s changed for him in his life since we last saw him. So he was fun to bring back.”
Jedi News: You’ve both worked on ‘Star Wars Resistance’ and a lot of the characters there are much younger and wouldn’t necessarily have been around at this time, but if some of the older characters could, which ones would you like to see within ‘The Bad Batch’ time frame?
Rau: “That might be too loaded of a question actually, but I’ll just say Resistance was an awesome show with this amazing cast of characters. Our crew working on the show primarily is the same crew both here at Lucasfilm and overseas as well, and it’s interesting how that show and the production of that show has affected what we do as we continue to push forward in the animation process. As far as specific characters, I mean I’m not going to go into too many details. There is definitely a long amount of time from where we are to where Resistance was, but it’s an interesting question.
Ion Canon Podcast: “You can’t share any more details about what’s going to come later in the season, but in two words how would you tease what we might see in the second half of this season?”
Rau: “Two words.”
Corbett: “Hold on.”
Rau: “There you go. That’s so funny because I was going to say buckle up.”
Corbett: “You’re really limiting us with the two words.”
Rau: “No, we’re having so much fun. It’s been great to see the fan reactions – all your reactions – to how this show is coming out. I’ll say if you like where we’ve gone, I think you’re going to really like where we’re going.”
Coffee With Kenobi Podcast: ”You mentioned Cad Bane earlier, can you talk about the evolution of bringing him into the show?”
Corbett: “Yeah! When talking about the first half of the season, obviously the Kaminoans put this bounty to have Omega return to them and we knew we wanted to have the batch interact with Fennec Shand – just to see how they end up because they’re still not fully street smart yet. They’re still very much soldiers. They don’t really know how the galaxy works in different ways and while Fennec is new to the scene, she’s still very dangerous. To sort of compare that interaction with when the Kaminoans hire an even bigger gun, and just a completely different experience for the batch where Hunter was able to get away that first time, but this time no one is going to outdraw Cad Bane. So it’s kind of like just a continuation of who this squad is interacting with, and how each interaction, each experience they’re learning something new about other threats that are out there in the world, and how that affects them moving forward.”
Rau: “Yeah and I mean I’ll say Cory Burton – he’s such an amazing, fantastic, decorated actor. We have such a blast working with him. For the design of Cad Bane we were looking at some designs that had never fully gone into production that were in progress in The Clone Wars both for his look, and also for his ship that you see in 109. It was a lot of fun to go back to those and sort of take them out of the garage and tinker with it , push it, and rework it a little bit so that Cad Bane and his ride felt familiar, and yet a little bit more nuanced. A little more detail, but yeah Corey and his performance – it just informs all of the animation and a lot of the blocking. He’s phenomenal. He’s so great.
Rebel Cels Podcast: “With so many new writers to ‘Star Wars’, what’s been your key to a successful writer’s room?”
Corbett: “It’s definitely all about collaboration and it’s great to bring in so many excited writers who love Star Wars, and who just want to play in that sandbox. The enthusiasm they bring and then from story breaking on through the whole script stage, and then production, we work closely with each freelancer and then with Brad and his team to each step along the way fine-tuning, adding, giving it that extra Star Wars thing to really kind of make the episodes pop. And yeah if i could say anything it’s collaboration, collaboration, collaboration, and I owe a lot of that to to Brad and the production side, because we give them stuff written on a page, but then seeing how they execute it – it’s like they take it from here to here and each time I’m amazed with every script.”
Rau: “I’m gonna swing that right back to you Corbett. You are the best. I mean really this collaboration that we have is unlike any other show i’ve ever worked on because truly when these amazing scripts – and they are amazing – and they’ve gone through so many stages, there’s so much love, blood, sweat and tears on each page, you can just feel it, but once we launch into our story phase, and into animation and lighting, and all the way to the end – we’re constantly talking, we’re constantly reworking things, and making sure they line up. So it’s that part of the collaboration that is really great and not every show is like that. I think it’s one of the special things about Lucasfilm Animation.”
Endor Express: “We haven’t seen this part of the ‘Star Wars’ galaxy before, can you talk about the writing of this era for ‘The Bad Batch’?”
Corbett: “It’s fun to see it through their eyes because we’ve said before the batch is a military unit and they’re not used to having to think about anything political or anything beyond that. They’re used to getting missions. They go on their missions, they execute them, and then they get new orders, but now that everything has shifted they’ve now started to have to ask questions about the empire and they’re unsure about where they fit in, and where they’re going. As a writer, it’s fun to sort of explore that turmoil in the galaxy because there is so much that the batch doesn’t know as we as a viewer haven’t seen what’s about to happen, so there’s that impending sense of like ‘Oh they don’t really know what they’re in for’ but it’s still about just like the daily struggles of once one government falls and a new regime rises – how some planets are happy about it because that means there’s peace, but they don’t realize what kind of peace that is, and it’s definitely this storyline. That idea is something that will continue to evolve with the series.”
Rau: “Yeah and it’s also been interesting just from a design standpoint to take things that are very much republic like the regs and their armor and their equipment and make it all devoid of the interesting individual color. Now they’re the face of the bad guy. We did a lot work to change the way that the futs works out of their helmet so they sound almost a little bit less like good guys and still Dee Bradley Baker performing a thousand characters – he’s so amazing, he’s so great – not only has all the bad men, but all of the regs and anybody you see who’s a clone. He’s incredible. If you look really closely without going too much into detail about it referencing our second episode on Saleucami, when The Bad Batch make their escape out of the old western town, there’s a lot of shooting going on, but we’re very careful that when Hunter is shooting a clone, he shoots a clone in the arm knocks a blaster out of his hand. He shoots him in the leg, knocks him down. Maybe he punches him out, but none of those guys perished, and that’s all very intentional. That’s all part of a small look at how our main characters are dealing with this changing empire and seeing their brothers now as the face of the bad guy – not just Crosshair – but all of the regs. So it’s all just interesting, juicy, meaty stuff to get into. We don’t always speak to it, but we try to pack it into every shot into every frame.”
Corbett: “Because it is like the most heartbreaking part, as you know if you were fans of The Clone Wars and just the prequels, you got to know these clones and their relationships with the jedi, and how they were a team. Then all of a sudden, now they’re part of the entity of the bad guy and just how striking that is even in the pilot episode when their armor is just bleached white and they’re just kind of this evil side of things. Yeah, as a fan it’s heartbreaking but part of the show.”
And as always check out James Baney’s ‘Bad Batch Reaction Show’ on the latest episode plus our questions for Ming-Na Wen and showrunners Brad Rau and Jennifer Corbett!