Katee Sackhoff, who played Bo-Katan Kryze on The Clone Wars and in season 2 of The Mandalorian, says fans should be wary of her character’s motivations. In a wide-ranging interview with Polygon, she discussed her role in the Star Wars universe and her career as a whole — including a tease for season 2 of her Netflix science fiction series Another Life.
Sackhoff first portrayed Bo-Katan in 2011, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 4. The character is a native-born Mandalorian, and the rightful ruler of the planet Mandalore. Season 2 of The Mandalorian finds her on the trail of the legendary Darksaber — a quest that puts her directly into conflict with the series’ hero, Din Djarin, played by Pedro Pascal.
“For anyone who hasn’t seen Clone Wars, Bo-Katan didn’t necessarily start out on the right side of things,” Sackhoff tells Polygon, during a weekend appearance with Topps Digital at Wintercon in New York. “She thought that she was, but she is not completely good in this story, and she has had some some nefarious intentions, potentially, at one point. What I loved about the way that she was portrayed in [The Mandalorian] was that you don’t really know what she’s thinking, or where she lands, or if you’re supposed to like her or trust her.”
“At the end of season 2, we are in a position where we’ve set ourselves up with our hero to potentially be in conflict,” Sackhoff continues. “You don’t quite know if you’re supposed to root for her or not yet, and I love that. I love that gray area, because she’s not so black and white.”
Sackhoff rose to prominence playing another character with lots of gray area, Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, in the 2004 reboot of Battlestar Galactica. That series, and her role in particular, hewed very close to current events at the time. Battlestar famously engaged with the ethics of torture and the concept of civilian rule of the military, both hot topics after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and throughout the early years of the United States’ military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I do appreciate, in the genre, that it is allowed to talk about things that you may not necessarily be able to talk about in something that is based in reality,” she says, “because it makes it more palatable. Sometimes, when something is so heavy-handed, it is hard for audiences to want to listen, and to be able to comment on current events and things that are happening. But if you place it in a genre like science fiction, you take away that ego that says, ‘You’re talking about me,’ and allow an audience to be affected by the current event, by the statements or comments on current events, without their own opinion getting in the way.”
After Battlestar, Sackhoff starred in several different television pilots. Eventually, she found success in Longmire, a Western drama on A&E. The program was canceled in 2014, reportedly because its fanbase was too old, before Netflix picked it up. The show ran for three more seasons, ending in 2017 with a total of six.
Sackhoff says she particularly appreciates Longmire’s dedication to expansive storytelling. “There is a very specific pacing Westerns have that allows an audience the respect and the time to feel the journey and go along with them,” she says. “And Mandalorian does that too. It stretches things out, because they want to make sure that you’re with them. That’s what Longmire did, and I loved it.”
Between Longmire and The Mandalorian, Sackhoff was a producer of Another Life, a series with a decidedly younger demographic. She also played a starring role as veteran astronaut Niko Breckinridge, charged with herding a crew of young, ambitious voyagers on a mission to save the Earth. Sackhoff says the show was designed to be “popcorn.”
“It doesn’t take itself seriously,” Sackhoff says. “No one’s gonna send a group of 22-year-olds into space to save the world. These kids are out of control. I should have airlocked them all in the first five seconds. To me, it was the perfect mix of sensationalized fiction for a younger audience.”
Critical reception for the series was generally poor, but Sackhoff and her team have been given a second season, which will premiere later in 2021.
“We had some problems,” Sackhoff admits. “Going into season 2, we were aware of what the problems were. Netflix gave us the opportunity to fix them, which I love, and season 2 is insane. It’s so exciting. It takes everything that people love from season 1, removes some of the stuff that didn’t work, and then we move forward even stronger [...]. So I am really excited and hopeful that we’ll get a third season as well.”
Sackhoff has not been confirmed for season 3 of The Mandalorian, but it’s hard to see the series continuing without her. Her appearance, along with other significant changes in the story, seems to signal the next phase of its narrative, one that may focus on the iconic Star Wars villain Grand Admiral Thrawn.