Ming-Na Wen has been part of the Disney family for decades. The Pittsburgh, PA-raised actress voiced Mulan in the 1998 Walt Disney Animation Studios classic and went on to portray Agent May in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series. Now, the actress has gone on to become a fan-favorite in the Star Wars universe as mercenary assassin Fennec Shand.
Shand first appeared in Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni’s The Mandalorian Season 1, Episode (“Chapter 5: The Gunslinger”) and went on to show up again, this time as Boba Fett’s (Temuera Morrison) right-hand woman, in three episodes of Season 2 — “Chapter 14: The Tragedy”, “Chapter 15: The Believer”, and the epic season finale “Chapter 16: The Rescue”, which saw the return of iconic Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker (CGI Mark Hamill).
During their story arc, Fett and Shand teamed up with bounty hunter Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), Cara Dune (Gina Carano), Migs Mayfeld (Bill Burr), Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), and Nite Owl warrior Koska Reeves (Sasha Banks) in a bid to save Grogu (AKA “Baby Yoda”) after he was kidnapped by Dark Trooper droids on Tython.
Now, Wen’s Shand is front-and-center in the Star Wars franchise in Mandalorian spinoff The Book of Boba Fett. The series — which debuted on Disney+ on December 29, 2021 — was initially cooly received, but began gaining steam with its second episode last week, with some Star Wars fans even deeming the Tatooine-set show “more compelling than The Mandalorian.”
“It means that if you have a dream and a desire to be something now or later in your life, dream it, make it happen, because if it happened to me, it can happen to anyone. This is something that I fantasized about as a young kid, 10 or 11 years old. I’d be in my own living room, imagining myself as a Jedi or a female Han Solo. And now it’s happened. So I hope I’m an example that you can make your dreams come true.”
The 58-year-old actress went on to share details about how she met Mandalorian creator Favreau while working on Couples Retreat (2009) and, ultimately, the chance encounter led to her role in the Star Wars story:
“Sometimes, life is about relationships, and while I didn’t get to do much on Couples Retreat, I got to meet Jon. And at that time, he was prepping to direct Iron Man. So he obviously sat around a table where they said, ‘Well, Boba’s got to look like Jango [Fett], so let’s see what Tem is doing.’ So I had this wonderful opportunity to get back on this journey, this vessel, this walker, and it’s been exciting and thrilling.”
Favreau recently shared his own thoughts about The Book of Boba Fett ahead of the show’s premiere:
“There is a power vacuum. Because Jabba [Jabba the Hutt] is gone. Jabba was clearly a very strong and imposing leader, who people were very scared of, and who seemed to rule with an iron fist. You pull somebody like that out of the ecosystem of Tatooine — and Hutt Space in general — and you have the opportunity that’s ripe in the gangster genre.”
As the series continues, fans are expecting cameos from a number of popular Star Wars characters, including Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra and Crimson Dawn, Pascal’s Djarin, Timothy Olyphant’s Marshal Cobb Vanth, and, of course, a young Han Solo — CGI, obviously — showrunner Robert Rodriguez and Favreau have yet to confirm any details regarding special appearances by Star Wars fan-favorites.
What do you think about Ming-Na Wen’s “female Han Solo” dreams coming true?