Exclusive Emily Swallow Interview – Emily has starred in hit series such as The Mandalorian, Castlevania, Supernatural, The Mentalist & more.
Geek Network’s Thomas S. had the pleasure of asking Emily Swallow A few questions about the roles and universes she has been a part of. Emily has been a part of some of the most notable series to hit the screen. Emily portrayed the Armorer in The Mandalorian, Lisa Tepes in Netflix’s Castlevania, and of course, nobody can forget her role as Amara in the amazing CW series Supernatural. She has cemented herself in some of the biggest TV franchises to date and she continues to become a kick-ass role model for many fandoms.
You have been a part of two absolutely loved series in Castlevania and Supernatural, what is it like to see these two series get a “true” ending with a planned series finale?
It’s startling and can be heartbreaking when a show is canceled before the writers have a chance to write an ending, so it makes me feel really joyful to see both Supernatural and Castlevania end the way the writers wanted. That said, it’s also hard to create an ending that makes everyone happy. I’ve heard a lot of emotional responses from the Supernatural fans, and my heart goes out to them. It’s so hard to say goodbye!
I saw The Haunting of Mary Celeste last year, congratulations, by the way, it was a great movie! How was it working with Richard Roundtree? He is a legend and he’s SHAFT!
Working with Richard was a dream. He is an incredibly kind and thoughtful man and had so many great stories to tell! We spent a lot of time together on that rickety old boat, so, we all became close as a cast. It made the long hours go faster!
Going back to all the series you have been a part of what has been your favorite part of being a part of such big fandoms?
My favorite part of being linked to such incredible fandoms is just talking with the fans and finding out what the shows mean to them. My background is in theatre, and part of what I love about that is the immediate connection with the audience. The storytelling is incomplete until it has an audience, and I savor that relationship. When I get to meet fans face to face and hear just a little bit about how Supernatural or Star Wars or The Mentalist has meant to them, it deepens my appreciation for those stories and gives me a chance to complete that communication loop.
I am curious, you’re rocking the handle bigEswallz, is there a story behind this or are you a fan of the King of New York Biggie Smalls?
I came upon the handle BigESwallz partly because of my brother, whose nickname is Swallz, and partly because I WISH I were cool enough to deserve to be connected to the King of New York.
If I were spending all this time on these sets, I’d probably develop a case of sticky fingers and start taking props home. Have you ever taken any props home and if so, are you allowed to tell us? And if not, what do you wish you could have taken?
I would totally give myself away and get caught, so have never swiped any props, but I’ve gotten to take certain costume pieces home. I have some great jewelry and shoes that costume designers have given to me. If I could have any prop that I’ve used, I think I’d like to snag some beskar.
Something I truly admire about you is how much of a fan you are of the universes and projects you are involved in. What project or role had you completely geeking out?
The project that had me geek out the most was a play called Nice Fish. I am a HUGE fan of Mark Rylance, and he co-wrote, co-directed, and starred in it. We created certain scenes through improvisation, and it was such a ridiculously fun adventure to be on stage with him. My audition for that project will stay with me forever because of something he said; after we’d talked a bit and worked on the scenes he said “it’s clear you could do this part, so now we step back and consider what other instruments we have in our orchestra and whether you’re playing the same song.” It reminded me that, for any given role, there are a number of people with a take on the character that works, and there are many different ways this orchestra of actors could fit together. I like how that dismantles any thoughts of competition and opens up so many storytelling possibilities.
I grew up in Yuma, AZ where the Jabba the Hutt scene in Return of the Jedi was filmed and that already makes me feel like such a big part of Star Wars. Hearing you are a Star Wars fan; how does it feel to be a part of the universe?
Being a part of the Star Wars universe is a giddy adventure, I won’t lie. When I was a kid I played Ewoks in my backyard and wanted to be Princess Leia, so in a way, I’m just continuing my childhood playtime. It feels surreal to get to do this as a grownup.
I have heard your initial audition only came with a 6-word character description of the Armorer, how hard was it to nail down who the character was or that it was a character in Star Wars?
Part of being an actor is being a detective. I often get auditions without much information, and I have to fill in the blanks. I did the same with The Armorer. The casting associate, Jason, was incredibly helpful in the audition room; he took what I was doing and added to it with some helpful adjustments. After I was cast, the pieces started to fall into place once I saw the costume and especially after I got to talk to John and Dave about the world and who she is in it.
Disney brought in some help to teach Robert Downey Jr. how to solder wiring for the close-up shot in the cave scene of Iron Man, and in your case, you are working an entire forge and hammering metal in a full suit of armor, did they do anything similar for you?
Thank goodness they brought a blacksmith in to helping me with those forging sequences. I had observed blacksmiths in a general way, but having someone there to help me with the specific moves we were shooting and to give me feedback on what it looked like was a big boost for my confidence and very helpful. One of my favorite things about being an actor is that I get to learn how to do things I otherwise wouldn’t, so anytime I get to work with an expert on something new, I geek out. It was a crash course because of the time constraints, and it was challenging to feel natural with all that armor and big gloves and a mask that hindered my vision, so I was relieved someone else was keeping an eye on things for me!
You were among some very impressive women in The Mandalorian with Gina Carano, Katee Sackhoff, Ming-Na Wen, and the list goes on, and you still managed to kick ass and be one of the coolest characters in the series, but how did it feel to be a part of a cast with such strong female characters?
Star Wars has always had incredible female characters, and I’m honored to share the screen with all those women. I think it’s particularly special that The Armorer is a woman because of the relationship she has with Din Djarin; she acts as a mentor to him and, to the best of my knowledge, most of the mentors we see in Star Wars are men—Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, —so she is particularly unique.
Disney is up there with the FBI or CIA in keeping details under wraps. How hard was it to keep details about the Mandalorian a secret?
I love surprises, so I didn’t mind keeping things secret. It was a little harder with my family because I wanted to be able to share with them what I was doing, but I was convinced that, if I said too much, a Disney drone would come shoot at me, so I kept my mouth shut!
I heard George Lucas visited the set of The Mandalorian, did you have a chance to meet him? If so, how did it feel meeting the creator of a universe you love?
I was indeed there the day he came to set, and it was humbling and inspiring to be in his presence. He held court and told stories to the cast and crew and, as I stood there watching and listening, I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that he first dreamed up these stories over 40 years ago and got them made in spite of a LOT of pushback, but he’s still here to watch them continue with even better moviemaking technology and with just as much passion and drive and HEART.
The armor and the voice play an important role in the making of a Mandalorian. Do you feel like one was more important than the other or did they go hand in hand?
The armor and voice work together. The audience experiences them together, so I don’t think one is more important than the other.
We have to know, how cute is baby Yoda on set?
Oh man, he is STUPIDLY cute. It’s very easy to forget that he’s a puppet. I won’t name names, but I was not the only one to behave ridiculously around him…
We know his name is Grogu, but it seems the fandom refuses to drop the Baby Yoda nickname, what is your take on it? Grogu or Baby Yoda?
I know better than to argue with the fans!
We see characters appear in multiple projects across the Star Wars universe. Any chance or hopes of seeing the Armorer appear in other Star Wars projects? It would be awesome to see an Armorer origin story!
Are you kidding? Of course I’d love to see an Armorer origin story! Let’s make it happen!
Lastly, thank you very much Emily for taking the time to answer our questions. In this moment, right now, what do you want the Emily Swallow legacy to be?
Wow. That’s a big question. I’ve been thinking a lot about legacies because my father just passed away a few weeks ago. I’ve been hearing from so many friends and family about his impact on their lives, and it reminds me that a legacy is made in the small moments, and those moments add up. I have always respected my dad’s work ethic, his selflessness in sharing his knowledge with others, and his dedication to his family and friends. I am so fortunate to do what I do for a living, and I just try to work hard, take curiosity in the people around me and do what I can to build up this incredible community of storytellers.
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