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Temuera Morrison has the only face that could bring Boba Fett back to life

Temuera Morrison in “The Book of Boba Fett.” (Disney Plus)
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Temuera Morrison vividly remembers the first time he tried on his Boba Fett suit.

He sat in a meeting room with Star Wars VIP producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, wearing a darker version of the armor he’d worn two decades earlier in the Star Wars prequels as bounty hunter Jango Fett, the man who provided the genetic material to create Boba — and he instantly felt stronger, with the urge to stick his chest out a little. There was no denying the electricity of the moment. And Filoni, one of the chief architects in Star Wars’ new era of pop culture relevance, gave a passing grade with his eyes — eyes that Morrison described as twinkling.

Filoni then said that they’d made the right decision in bringing Morrison back to Star Wars as one of the franchise’s most popular characters.

“I was so excited to attend this meeting I actually got there three hours early,” Morrison told The Washington Post. “I just wanted to make the most out of the opportunity.”

Morrison wasn’t just the right choice. He was the only choice. More specifically, the only face.

The character debuted in the infamous 1978 Star Wars animated holiday special, of all things. He then appeared in 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back” (played by late actor Jeremy Bulloch) as a bounty hunter. He died after Han Solo accidentally jammed the rocket that was on his back in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.” But he remained immensely popular with fans because he had the audacity to look cooler than Darth Vader while standing next to him. Boba Fett lived on through novels, comic books, action figures and conventions.

But death doesn’t always stick in the Star Wars universe. Especially for the most buzzed-about characters. Just ask Darth Maul, another Star Wars prequel character Filoni resurrected (in the animated “The Clone Wars” series). Favreau and Filoni crafted another back-from-the-dead revival for Boba Fett, explaining his survival in the first episode of the new series “The Book of Boba Fett,” which debuted last month on Disney Plus. Because the character is a clone of his “father” Jango Fett — who died at the hands of Mace Windu’s (Samuel L. Jackson) lightsaber in “Star Wars/Episode II: Attack of the Clones” — that meant a now-grown-up Boba had to have the same face.

Rare is the acting opportunity that allows an actor to portray both the father and the son, but if there’s one thing the Star Wars universe has always excelled in, it’s dramatic paternity issues. Morrison couldn’t be happier with the technicality that allowed him to return to the bloodline of a role he began in his 40s and now returns to in his 60s.

“It was nice to actually come back and work hard and do some good stuff in terms of the drama, in terms of the acting, in terms of the action,” Morrison said. “Especially in these mature years that I have attained.”

Morrison was given a test drive as Boba Fett in 2020 during the sixth episode of Season 2 of “The Mandalorian.” It was an action-packed affair with a wild West vibe full of laser blasts and exploding ships, directed by Robert Rodriguez. Morrison said he and Rodriguez bonded on set by playing guitars together between scenes. Shooting that episode was when he realized he could take Boba Fett further than just a cameo appearance if he were ever asked to do so.

“Everything clicked with Robert Rodriguez,” Morrison said of the director who also helmed the first episode of “The Book of Boba Fett. “I think I had to show some stuff once I appeared in ‘The Mandalorian.’ I think that gave them confidence to say hey I think this guy can handle it. To be in this family of Disney and [Lucasfilm] and having to hold the reins as a number one was a great honor.”

The New Zealand-born actor also takes great pride in the rarity of being a major Star Wars performer who comes from an Indigenous background. It’s a status he doesn’t take lightly. Morrison has met many Indigenous actors over the years who have told him his career was of great influence to them. While he was filming “Aquaman,” he was moved to learn that one of his breakout movies 1994′s “Once We Were Warriors,” about a family that descends from a Maori legacy, had a strong impact on that film’s star, Jason Momoa.

“Here’s a young, Brown, Hawaiian growing up in Iowa — he found that movie really moved him spiritually in terms of his identity. I guess at the end of the day [many] people are trying to find their roots … who they are,” Morrison said. “We’re proud of those Indigenous roots. We can take that life force that we have from our Indigenous culture, we can blend it, transform and use some of the energy to give us confidence, and also to make us perform at a level that is good so that we do get noticed. It is our power. It is who we are.”

For the moment, Morrison is mum on just how much of his face we’ll be seeing on Disney Plus outside of “The Book of Boba Fett.” There are multiple Star Wars streaming series in production (including “Obi-Wan Kenobi” and “Ahsoka”) that present opportunities for him to appear not only as Boba Fett but other clone troopers that share his face. They gained popularity in “The Clone Wars,” while voiced by actor Dee Bradley Baker.

“Well, there are people — I’m thinking of Captain Rex for one. He looks a little like me. There’s Commander Cody. What happened to those guys? There’s all those clone armies,” Morrison said. “That could be something fresh and new and exciting.”