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Jon Favreau on The Mandalorian Season 3, Skeleton Crew, Iron Man, and Elf

In the midst of this generation’s two biggest pop culture empires, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the “Star Wars” franchise, lies an architect who helped launch them into modern greatness: Jon Favreau.

Fifteen years ago, the actor-turned-filmmaker directed a movie about a B-movie superhero with an unbankable movie star when comic book movies were more smash hits than surefire hits. That movie turned out to be “Iron Man” starring Robert Downey Jr. (with Favreau also playing his right-hand man Happy Hogan) and after dozens of spin-offs, spinoffs, and box office hits, the rest was comic-book history.

Recently, Favreau traded his Repulsor gauntlets for lightsabers. It charts the future of “Star Wars” across several TV series, starting with “The Mandalorian,” the Disney+ flagship that debuted on day one of the series. The Western-themed series, Star Wars, begins its third season on March 1, and has already spawned several spin-offs and an adorable mascot with its lovable alien creature, Grogu, a.k.a.
Baby Yoda.

For his contributions to television, Favreau will receive a star on February 13 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame near El Capitan Theater, where several of his projects, including “The Mandalorian,” “The Lion King” and “The Jungle Book,” premiere.

“I have a lot of really good memories working on Disney projects, Marvel projects, Star Wars stuff. There are a lot of really special memories for me in that particular area of ​​Hollywood Boulevard,” Favreau says. “I like being part of the fabric of the neighborhood.” .”

Prior to his Marvel and Star Wars stints, Favreau landed his first movie role in the 1993 biographical sports film “Rudy,” where he meets Vince Vaughn, then credited in his debut as Vincent Vaughn. The two became friends and collaborated on the movie “Swingers” in 1996, which was quite an achievement in both their careers. Favreau wrote the comedy Friends and co-starred with Vaughn, who will also receive a star on the Walk of Fame this year.

Favreau, whom Marvel and “Star Wars” fans frequently recognize, has still been seen in Las Vegas, where some “Swingers” were filmed. “If you’re in Vegas, you’re probably ‘swingers,'” he says. “Older people tend to remember me from my previous work and from ‘The Chef Show’ and ‘Chef.'” For millennials and young adults, it’s usually Marvel because I’m Said Hogan. People know me a lot from my work as an actor. Star Wars fans, they understand my involvement behind the camera, too. I have to make an educated guess when someone walks up to me on the street and what they recognize me from, but I can usually tell you by what shirt they’re wearing or how old they are.”

Favreau enlisted Vaughn again for his directorial debut, the crime comedy “Made” in 2001, and then made one of the most enduring modern Christmas movies, “Elf” in 2003. The director was shocked to realize that “Elf” is celebrating Her twentieth birthday. year, but he says he set out to make a permanent holiday hit all those years ago.

“That was our goal,” says Favreau, “to be part of the collection of classics that families watch together every year.” “We really embraced making it feel like it could be live alongside Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It felt stale even when it first came out, because of the halting animation, themes, music, beautiful score by John Debny and, of course, Will Ferrell at its center, bringing so much humanity and humor to it. “

Although he’s expanded the worlds of “Iron Man” and “The Mandalorian” into wide-ranging franchises, Favreau says the beloved “Elf” story, which at one point had a sequel in the works, is best left alone.

“I think there’s always room for new Christmas movies; this particular one, I don’t know what story will be told next. It’s so complete,” he says.

After producing “Zathura” in 2005, a sequel to 1995’s “Jumanji,” Favreau set his sights on the fledgling Marvel universe with “Iron Man,” which celebrates its 15th birthday this year.

Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born, there was Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy and Fox’s “X-Men” and “Fantastic Four” films, but their momentum fizzled, and sequels were pushed back and reboots launched years later. “There was some skepticism if there was room for more superhero movies,” Favreau says, but it was Christopher Nolan’s dark, gritty Batman films that gave the Iron Man team hope.

“Those really brought a lot of quality to the genre,” he says. “We gave a different tone, but hopefully something equally satisfying and bring humor to it and a sense of fun, and of course Robert Downey is at the center of it all.”

Dozens of interconnected sequels and Disney+ shows later, the MCU is the blueprint for building a tightly woven storytelling universe. After directing “Iron Man 2” and executive director “Iron Man 3” and the “Avengers” series, Disney and Lucasfilm send Favreau on a very important mission in a galaxy far, far away.

In 2019, the recent Star Wars series trilogy comes to a divisive end and the culmination of the Skywalker Saga, with no plans for the beloved sci-fi franchise’s future revealed. Instead, “Star Wars” headed to the small screen. “The Mandalorian” told the story of a lone, helmeted bounty hunter, played by Pedro Pascal, who travels the galaxy while protecting Grogu, the cute baby alien. Set in the time frame between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens,” it’s an unexplored era of “Star Wars” that Favreau was free to expand on.

Favreau has already built out the “The Mandalorian” mini-universe with “The Book of Boba Fett,” which reintroduced the iconic bounty hunter, and “Ahsoka,” the upcoming series starring Rosario Dawson as the fan-favorite protector of Anakin Skywalker. Then there’s the “Skeleton Crew,” created by Marvel’s Spider-Man director John Watts, and executive produced by Favreau. Jude Law stars in the series, which is a Spielberg-esque coming-of-age story set in the same era as The Mandalorian. “Skeleton Crew” is set to air this year, but unlike Boba Fett and Ahsoka, the characters won’t be making their debuts in “The Mandalorian.”

“Each storyteller brings his own personality. The collections you work on [‘Skeleton Crew’] Led by Jon Watts, with whom she collaborated on all of the “Spider-Man” films. It was a really interesting time, and the great filmmakers he dealt with were bringing their points of view as well,” says Favreau.

When asked about bringing Mando and Grogu to the big screen, Favreau said the agenda has always been to plan “Star Wars” stories for broadcast on television.

“There’s always an opportunity when you have a group of characters and stories that people connect with and that you can move media into different areas. Marvel does that very effectively,” he says. “It’s just a matter of where we have to spend our time and what the audience’s appetite is. With all these stories we’re telling, it sure is a full-time job just keeping this going with what we’re doing now. TV has a much different rhythm and schedule than film.”

It’s a pretty cool way to build out the Star Wars universe, but Favreau says the two franchises are falling apart.

“I’m talking to [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige regularly, and we’re always watching each other’s stuff,” he says. “Obviously I’ve worked on the MCU and I’ve been dealing with people who’ve been on Star Wars for a long time. There’s a lot of overlap, definitely in the fanbase. I think one tells the other, that’s just the nature of storytelling, on the technological side as well as stylistically.”

Passionate about technology, Favreau pushed the boundaries of motion capture and CGI directing Disney’s live-action productions “Jungle Book” and “The Lion King.” In “The Mandalorian,” he helped pioneer the Vol, a massive, state-of-the-art video wall that can render complex backgrounds faster than ever before. These advancements in technology excite Favreau about the future of storytelling.

“Whether it’s displays, virtual reality, augmented reality, real-time rendering, or game engine technology, all of these things weave back and forth and inform each other. Machine learning makes it possible to accelerate a lot of technologies,” he says. “We always have to be mindful of not letting progress get ahead of us and always have a human element that guides us in the way technology is being used. I think storytelling is a really important nexus.”

advice sheet

What: Jon Favreau has received a star on the Walk of Fame.

When: 11:30 a.m., Feb. 13

Where: 6840 Hollywood Blvd.



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