Tragic Details About The Cast Of The Mandalorian

Disney entered the streaming wars in 2019 in a big way with The Mandalorian, the first live-action television series set in the Star Wars universe. Set in the years after the fall of the Galactic Empire in Return of the Jedi and before the events of the 2015 franchise reboot The Force Awakens, every episode of the cinematic, ambitious, and exquisitely realized series plays like a mini-Star Wars movie, following the exploits of a Mandalorian bounty hunter (Pablo Pascal) alternately known as Mando and Din Djarin, as he sees to the well-being of a baby version of iconic Star Wars character Yoda and along the way encounters all manner of clients, charges, villains, and allies. 

With two seasons and counting, The Mandalorian has built up its own suitably vast universe of Star Wars characters with a cast populated by actors both up-and-coming and well-known. Here's a look into the lives of The Mandalorian's actors ... and it hasn't always been pleasant for them.

Pedro Pascal was a child refugee

The Mandalorian on The Mandalorian rarely takes off his helmet, only occasionally revealing that he is, in fact, portrayed by famous actor Pedro Pascal, previously best known for his work as Oberyn Martell on Game of Thrones. Pascal was born in Santiago, Chile, in the mid-1970s, not long after the country was taken over by the brutal military junta of Augusto Pinochet, who disappeared and executed thousands of his enemies, according to The Guardian. Sadly but fortunately, Pascal's parents — philosophically and politically the opposite of Pinochet's regime — had to leave their home nation and not look back. "My family left when I was nine months old," he told Orange Coast. "My parents were young and liberal. It was a dangerous time, and they were lucky they got out with their lives."

Pascal and his family eventually moved to the United States, and he was particularly close to his mother, who passed away right after the young actor started landing small, breakthrough roles on '90s TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Undressed. In tribute, he changed his professional name from Pedro Balmaceda (his father's last name) to Pedro Pascal (his mother's surname).

Werner Herzog began life as a refugee and was raised in poverty

In the first episode of The Mandalorian, a character known only as the Client gets the action moving. He's a sympathizer of the Empire (despite its recent demise) who hires the titular bounty hunter to bring to him "the Child," a creature of great gifts who turns out to be the lovable Baby Yoda. Lending airs of menace and mystery to the role of the Client is Werner Herzog, an occasional actor who is much better known for his often deeply unsettling films, including Fitzcarraldo and Grizzly Man.

Herzog is keen on depicting the dark side of humanity, which he experienced firsthand as a toddler. He was born in 1942, right in the middle of World War II, and in Munich, a German city under Nazi rule. According to The Independent, Herzog's father left early, leaving the future filmmaker's mother to raise three boys on her own in a war zone. After a massive Allied bombing campaign on Munich, the family took refuge in a tiny, remote village in the mountains of Bavaria in a house without plumbing or running water. Herzog and his siblings stayed safe, but his mother still showed them the horrors of war. According to Rolling Stone, his earliest memory is of a time when he was about three years old, when his mother took him and his brother to look down on the city of Rosenheim after bombs had set it aflame.

Nick Nolte coped with substance abuse

It's easy to recognize in Din Djarin's ally Kuill the distinctive, raspy voice of Nick Nolte, star of big hit movies like 48 Hrs., The Prince of Tides, and Cape Fear, a three-time Academy Award nominee, and People's "Sexiest Man Alive" of 1992. Nolte is also an individual who struggled with addiction for years. According to The Independent, Nolte began drinking during childhood, and his consumption steadily increased to the point where, when he became a leading man, he talked directors into making his characters heavy drinkers so that Nolte could consume real booze during shooting. His third wife, Rebecca Linger, helped him quit drinking in the '80s, but that period of sobriety lasted about a decade. 

In 2002, Nolte went viral: His mugshot, in which he's dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and rocking disheveled hair, became infamous. According to CNN, police in Malibu, California, pulled over the actor when he was spotted "weaving and driving erratically" on the Pacific Coast Highway. He was charged with two misdemeanor counts, for driving under the influence and for having the drug GHB in his system. (He later told People that this drug "was one substance I ran into that I shouldn't have messed with." A few days after posting bail, Nolte checked into a rehabilitation facility and got sober again.

Amy Sedaris' troubled sister took her own life

Peli Motto pops up in both seasons of The Mandalorian, as she's the operator of a hangar at the Mos Eisley spaceport who helps Din Djarin with his ship as well as looking after the vaunted Baby Yoda if need be, even when it leads to her capture. It's the rare dramatic role for Amy Sedaris, an alt-comedy legend. From 1999 to 2000, she starred on the cult classic Strangers with Candy, a Comedy Central show she co-created, as Jerri Blank, a narcissistic 46-year-old former prostitute and drug addict who re-enrolls in high school. In addition to voicing Princess Carolyn on BoJack Horseman, she also stars on TruTV's surreal lifestyle parody show At Home with Amy Sedaris

Sedaris grew up in a family of six brothers and sisters, among them bestselling humorist David Sedaris and Massachusetts-based artist Tiffany Sedaris, who passed away in 2013, according to The Somerville Times. David Sedaris later shared in "Now We Are Five," a piece which first appeared in The New Yorker, that his 49-year-old sibling had taken her own life. It marked an especially tragic end to the life of Tiffany Sedaris, one marked with substance abuse issues and mental health struggles.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Sasha Banks moved a lot as her parents sought treatment for her brother

Professional wrestling involves more than a little acting, but a string of second-season episodes of The Mandalorian portraying a mysterious hooded figure marks the first time that WWE star Sasha Banks has played someone on-screen besides her in-the-ring persona. Born Justine Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado, Banks experienced a childhood that was, at times, tough, scattered, and framed by her brother's health issues. On the Talk is Jericho podcast, Banks explained that she was born on the West Coast but moved around a lot, including spells in Iowa, Minnesota, and Massachusetts, in search of schools and facilities to treat her brother, who was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum and bullied for it. 

Through it all, Banks' mother struggled to find gainful employment, and the family often lived out of hotels. When the future wrestler-actor was a teenager, her mother found a full-time job, leading Banks to quit traditional school and enroll in online classes so as to serve as her brother's full-time caregiver.

A fear of a premature death led Horatio Sanz to lose a large amount of weight

In the very first episode of The Mandalorian, viewers get a handle on the day-to-day of Din Djarin's bounty hunter lifestyle, as he pursues, painlessly captures, and transports a blue-skinned, scaly-faced man of the Mythrol persuasion. Despite the extreme makeup job, the actor playing the Mythrol is instantly recognizable from his famous face and voice: It's Horatio Sanz, a cast member of the illustrious Saturday Night Live from 1998 to 2006. A standout star on the show, he created memorable characters like the vivacious Carol; Rick, the stepfather of hyperactive kid Kaitlin (with Amy Poehler); and Gobi, the always stoned co-host of "Jarret's Room" (with Jimmy Fallon).

In 2008, Sanz walked the red carpet of a Broadway event, where a reporter from New York magazine approached him about his dramatically changed appearance: Sanz had noticeably dropped a lot of weight. He'd actually lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 pounds, but he wasn't sure exactly how much because when he reached what he felt to be his heaviest point, he didn't have an exact number, precluded by fear from figuring it out. "I never weighed myself when I was at my fattest," he said (via HuffPost), "because I was scared I might die." He slimmed down by "eating better" and exercising more.

Clancy Brown was devastated by the death of a colleague

Viewers of The Mandalorian might recognize the actor who plays Burg, the double-crossing mercenary and muscle working for Ranzar Malk tasked with transporting prisoner Qin. They might not be sure from exactly where they recognize Clancy Brown, but his face could be familiar from his work as Captain Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, Rawhide in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, or Sergeant Zim in Starship Troopers. It's also possible viewers recognize something in his voice, because Brown lends his pipes to a lot of cartoons and video games, most notably, prolifically, and successfully as money-grubbing Krusty Krab owner Mr. Krabs for 20-plus years of SpongeBob SquarePants episodes and in its spin-off movies. 

Brown obviously worked closely, and for a long time, with SpongeBob creator Stephen Hillenburg, and when the cartoonist and writer passed away from a rapidly degenerative case of the neurological condition ALS in November 2018, it profoundly affected Brown. One day after Hillenburg's death, SpongeBob network Nickelodeon announced on Twitter that it would observe "a moment of silence to honor his life and work." Brown shared that tweet with his own thoughts and commentary. "My moment of silence had to be at least a whole day. Steve's passing is so very sad but ALS is brutal, unrelenting. He was a sweet, humble dude," Brown wrote. "I owe so much to him, personally speaking. He never thought so. But I do."