Ming-Na Wen on Exploring Fennec Shand in ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’

The latest Star Wars animated series, The Bad Batch, finds the galaxy at a turning point. The Clone Wars just ended and the Empire is quickly rising to power. Clone Force 99, a squad of elite clone troopers with genetic mutations, along with a young female clone named Omega, must navigate this rapidly changing galaxy. Along the way, they are quick to learn that to play it low might be the most difficult task, when they have the likes of Fennec Shand after Omega.

Fennec Shand in a scene from “STAR WARS: THE BAD BATCH”, exclusively on Disney+. © 2021 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

Originally introduced in The Mandalorian as a seasoned mercenary and bounty hunter, The Bad Batch shows Fennec earlier in her career. Ming-Na Wen, who plays her on both shows, pulled from her personal experiences when approaching the character in these two distinct periods of her life.

“I know when I was younger, you kind of see the world as your oyster, and you’re going to go and conquer it, and you have all these goals and dreams” she explained in an interview via Zoom. “That’s sort of the ideas that I put into Fennec. You know, she’s got more energy and more focus, and she’s ruthless. She’ll take on any job, she’s out there to make her mark, and then the more seasoned Fennec is probably a bit more careful, a bit more cautious. She’s had some life experiences, probably some heartbreaks. And there’s different energy between the two characters.”

Wen also noted that just because Fennec has gained experience and insight over the years, doesn’t mean that there’s a difference in personality. It’s because she already established her character in The Mandalorian that it was a smooth transition to playing her for animation.

“Pulling from my own personal life, just because I’m older now, doesn’t mean that I’m not still the same person I was when I was in my 20s, you know, or even in my teens,” Wen elaborated. “I still geek out about Star Wars, I still love certain foods the same way, I still treat people the same way. So, I think having established her in a live character form, it’s so much easier than to go back and just put in the work as the character animation form.”

When the series creator, Dave Filoni, approached Wen about the idea of putting Fennec into the series, she was immediately fascinated. Aside from having the opportunity to explore who her character is in her younger years, she also loves animation, as she’s already a fan of Filoni’s renowned The Clone Wars.

“It is a lot easier, that’s for sure,” she remarked on portraying Fennec in animation compared to live-action. “I don’t have to get up at four in the morning, first of all. I don’t have to sweat in four layers of leather and gloves and boots and, you know, in terrain and do all this action stuff. Yeah, voice acting is great. In comparison, it’s night and day.”

Even though Wen is not new to voice acting, having to record her dialogue for the show from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic made for a whole new experience for her. “We had a person bring all the equipment to my house, dropped it off, gave me instructions how to set things up. My husband helped me set it up, and we put it all in my closet. Because with all the clothes, it was the one place that had the best buffering sound. So yeah, I did it out of my closet.”

Fennec will be reappearing in live-action form once more, when The Book of Boba Fett comes to Disney+ later this year. Having had the opportunity to explore who her character was earlier in her life, has that had an effect at all on how Wen approaches her character? While she doesn’t think it will as much had she not already established who her character is, she also remains tight-lipped about what’s to come for both the forthcoming series and the latter half of The Bad Batch.

“That’s the tease, right? By not saying anything. Just stay tuned,” she said.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is now streaming on Disney+.

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