FT – How has your appearance in The Mandalorian impacted your life?
DP – As a lifelong Star Wars fan, the experience of filming was amazing by itself. As far as with the fan base, I never thought my appearance would have had this much support where I’ve gained so many friends and fans all around the world. Ever since I started my career in 2002, I’ve always been passionate about helping others. It’s an amazing feeling to be a small ambassador for the franchise where I’m able to help others on a larger scale due to this appearance.
FT – Gekko has garnered quite a large following in a short amount of time. What does that mean to you, as both an actor and a Star Wars fan?
DP – I remember one appearance in Sioux City last year where over 200 people showed up along with the mayor to name July 19th as Gekko The Bounty Hunter day. I remember looking at my son in absolute amazement combined with wondering what Disney and the Mandalorian producers thought of all of this. I’m sure they understand how special Star Wars is to so many people where even a side character Bounty Hunter would draw so much attention. It meant so much to me and my family last year as everyone’s industry was struggling just to make ends meet. I was so happy I was able to help out over 40 comic book stores by paying them a commission of autograph sales as opposed to asking for an appearance fee. The support of the charitable organizations was beyond words: The 501st Legion, Rebel Legion, Mandalorian Mercs, Sith Dynasty, and Imperial Outlanders. So many came out dressed in costume to show their support. I was happy I was able to contribute to their local raffles and charitable causes.
DP – Spending time with my 12 year old son was a priceless experience. I have always loved to travel, but this 10,000 mile road trip was really special with him as we got to see the country. Receiving the Key to the City from the mayor of Cleveland, TN was truly a highlight. It meant so much to be able to bring some joy to so many stores due to the circumstances last year with the pandemic. My son and I had an intense schedule, but saw some amazing landmarks: USS Lexington in Corpus Christi, Field of Dreams in Dyersville, IA, Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, Graceland, Tupelo, and Disney World as well. Not to mention all of the amazing food all over the country. The Tres Leches cake at Chuy’s in Texas was one of our favorites.
DP – After 40 plus appearances, I was asked the same questions by the fans and more or less I would answer the same way. It’s a ‘you had to be there sort of story,’ but my son would imitate me in the car towards the next destination. He would ask the question and then answer it the way I would with the same mannerism etc. We had a lot of laughs from that.
DP – Many of the fans have been anxiously awaiting an appearance of Gekko in a Star Wars Marvel comic. A few close friends recommended a fan fiction one-off edition. They offered to write, illustrate, and color it. Oddly enough it’s a collaboration of people around the globe. The writer, JP Faust, is from Maryland. The illustrator, Flavio Pop, is from Romania. The Colorist, Thyago Brandào de Paula, is from Brazil. Fans were coming to me over the past year with suggestions of what Gekko’s ship would look like, what planet he was from, etc. Aubrey Eden Dukes and James Fiorentino are two other amazing artists offered to create variant covers for the comic. It’s simply a fan fiction origin story where I’ll be selling my autograph on it. There will be a limited number of issues to travel with around the country and I appreciate everyone’s support. 15% of all autograph sales will be going directly to local comic book shops hosting me, as well as local charitable organizations through my three month tour.
DP – I plan on taking both sons this year on the trip. This is all for my 15 year old son Dante’s college fund. I’m hoping this is a lesson to both my sons on how you have to work hard in order to create a following and yield success. It seems like there’s been a lot of excuses the past few years and I never was raised to think in that way. The entertainment industry has been exceptionally difficult. Many times it hasn’t been fair. Nepotism, cronyism, being too tall for the part, etc. The irony is that I accept the unfairness. This town owes me nothing. All one can do is put yourself out there and more often than not, good things will happen. I want to teach my sons this principle so they understand the world isn’t going to be handed to them. A lot of parallels with a Star Wars bounty hunter as an independent contractor trying to survive as well as in real life.
DP – Fewer movie locations this time, and a little more history. I’m in the middle of reading the Lewis and Clark Journals. I’m looking forward to visiting St. Charles, MO where they began their journey, as well as the Mandan Village in North Dakota where they spent their first winter. Over on the east coast, I’ve never been to Lexington or Concord, and Valley Forge for some Revolutionary War history. I also have a bucket list of Major League Baseball Stadiums. I have four left, and I’ve yet to visit the Miami Marlins stadium. I’ll have a day off in Nashville, TN where I’d like to visit the graves of Johnny Cash and June Carter to pay my respects. There’s also the Johnny Cash Museum I’d like to visit as well. I’m starting to improve my golf game so we are bringing my clubs for a course or two through the journey.
Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Electroplated Mug: Mandalorian @ ForbiddenPlanet.com