‘STAR WARS’: How Pierce Brosnan Became a Fancasting Favorite for Thrawn
Besides introducing Ahsoka to a Star wars live-action project, Chapter 13 of The Mandalorian made way for yet another character to emerge from a Star Wars animated series. It was revealed that Anakin Skywalker’s former Jedi Padawan is searching for Grand Admiral Thrawn, most likely because finding him might help her get to her missing Jedi friend Ezra Bridger. So being, this seems to indicate that, even though it probably won’t be on The Mandalorian, Thrawn is now also set to make a transition to live-action.
Ever since the character first appeared on Star Wars Rebels, there have been several ideas on who should play the part, should it ever make its way to a non-animated project. British actors were pretty much on the forefront, as most of the Imperial Officers we’ve gotten so far in Star Wars movies have had that common characteristic, going back to Peter Cushing in the ’70s. Benedict Cumberbatch (who played the similarly stoic Khan in the Star Trek franchise), Jason Isaacs, and Hugo Weaving were amongst the names that surfaced as being popular choices for the role.
In April 2019 another name managed to gain traction amongst fans, mostly due to the mural unveiled at Star Wars Celebration Chicago. The massive mural portrayed the entire saga, as well as the rest of the more prominent projects in the Star Wars Universe (Rogue One, Solo, The Clone Wars, and Star Wars Rebels). An interesting feature of the said mural was that all the animated characters were depicted as photorealistic figures, and not as their animated counterparts. In the Rebels section, taking his place alongside Kanan Jarrus, Hera Syndulla, and the aforementioned Ezra Bridger was Grand Admiral Thrawn, and his resemblance to actor Pierce Brosnan was uncanny.
This led many to believe that Brosnan could have turned out to not only but the frontrunner for the part but he could actually already have signed onto some Star Wars project, even though there was none in sight. But now, with what we’ve witnessed on The Mandalorian, an Ahsoka-centered live-action show could be it. But does Brosnan really fit the role?
If we take into consideration the voice talent chosen to impersonate the part on Star Wars Rebels: Not really. Thrawn is an Imperial Officer, but he isn’t your usual one. Him being a Chiss and not a human, Rebels didn’t go the British route and cast Lars Mikkelsen, a Scandinavian actor in the role, with a somewhat Scandinavian accent. Lucasfilm took great care in getting Ahsoka Tano’s voice to translate into live-action almost seamlessly so it would make sense for them to do the same when it came to Thrawn’s. Most actors are obviously capable of doing their job in many accents, so this obviously isn’t a deal-breaker, even though it isn’t how past choices have been made.
Regarding his appearance, there is no doubt Brosnan could look the part. But the former 007 would definitively be more on the older side of what the character requires. The last couple of seasons of Star Wars Rebels, where Thrawn’s age would have been something between his early 40s and early 50s, are set roughly ten years before the events of The Mandalorian. This would mean that if we encounter Thrawn after the Ahsoka episode, he could be between his early 50s and early 60s. Pierce Brosnan is currently 67 years old. With at least a year before we would see him in the actual role, he would be almost ten years older than the oldest Thrawn could realistically be. We are obviously talking about an alien that doesn’t need to age at the rate humans do, and the role isn’t exceptionally physical, so even though Lucasfilm is probably looking for someone younger, this shouldn’t immediately put him out of contention.
All things considered, I wouldn’t put my money on the Brosnan casting. Even though he would certainly be capable of playing someone with Thrawn’s demeanor, it’s fair to think that casting someone younger would open a few more storyline possibilities for the character. The mural is obviously a fun thing to examine, but given that Thrawn is a blue alien with red eyes, the makeup alone needed for the role is bound to make it easy for almost anyone to end up with the right look. There should be little doubt the artist used Brosnan as inspiration, but it’s certainly a stretch to think Disney would leak information that way. Ahsoka Tano herself is also pictured on the mural and she doesn’t look at all like Rosario Dawson. And since both characters are connected in the way Lucasfilm has decided to introduce both to live-action, their development should have come at a similar time, giving yet another reason not to think too much of Thrawn’s portrait.