Star Wars: Benedict Cumberbatch Explains Why He Won't Be Thrawn In The Mandalorian

By Sam Hargrave Updated:
Benedict Cumberbatch and Grand Admiral Thrawn

The Mandalorian Season two proved to be extremely popular among hardcore Star Wars fans as the series incorporated story elements from books, series, and comics in the universe. 

Possibly the biggest connections were to the Rebels animated series, which concluded its story around the same era as the Disney+ series in a special epilogue featuring Ahsoka Tano. When the Jedi made her live-action debut, many were surprised to see the connections to her animated arc as she was last seen on the hunt for classic Star Wars Legends villain, Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Thrawn was last seen jumping into hyperspace with Rebels lead Ezra Bridger, sending Tano on the hunt for both of them. This has led many to speculate both characters will make their own first live-action appearances in future seasons of The Mandalorian or Ahsoka's own Disney+ series.

Naturally, this sent some fans into a fan-casting spiral trying to come up with the best actors to bring both to into the Disney+ world. Reports have suggested Aladdin star Mena Massoud is being eyed for Ezra, however, there is a clear fan-favorite for Thrawn being the MCU's Benedict Cumberbatch. 


In an interview with Collider's Steve Weintraub discussing his new film The Courier, Doctor Strange actor Benedict Cumberbatch responded to fans hoping for him to join The Mandalorian as Grand Admiral Thrawn. 

Weintraub asked the actor if he'd heard of the viral fan casting, to which he responded with confusion, clearly having not heard of Star Wars Legends. Cumberbatch responded jokingly, asking if he “turns into Peter Cushing,” referring to Cushing's Grand Admiral Tarkin:

“Grand Admiral Thrawn? Does he turn into Peter Cushing, or something? Is that…?”

Collider went on to describe Thrawn, particularly noting the blue-skinned nature of the character and the makeup process that would come with it. Sadly, it seems as if fans will need to come up with a new actor to take the character to live-action as Cumberbatch said definitively it's a “straight no from me [him],” noting his lack of time as the reason:

"That’s a straight no from me, right now. There’s no way I want to be turned blue. I turned the air blue, very recently. No no, seriously, I have precious time with my children and I think sitting in a makeup chair and being painted blue, and the amount of time it would take to do that and then take it off at the end of the day might just… it’s not the right time in my life for that."


With Thrawn clearly still on his way to live-action, Cumberbatch's comments seem to indicate fans will need to move their fan-casting over to other actors. Some other popular favorites have included Harry Potter's Lucius Malfoy Jason Isaacs, or Loki himself, Tom Hiddleston, both of which seem like incredible choices for the popular villain.

It's not surprising to see Benedict Cumberbatch isn't interested in tying himself to another major franchise with Marvel already keeping him busy as Doctor Strange. The number of projects he's involved with leaves Cumberbatch little time for his family life, which delving into Star Wars definitely wouldn't help.

The live-action world of Star Wars will next be explored on Disney+ in The Book of Boba Fett, set to debut in December.

- In This Article: Ahsoka
Release Date
August 22, 2023
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Natasha Liu Bordizzo
- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.