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He’s known as a loose cannon, a maverick filmmaker who steers his own path in order to tell the stories he wants to tell, and so it should come as no surprise that German director Werner Herzog accepted his role on The Mandalorian in order to pay for his next production, a Japanese language film with a Japanese cast and filmed in Japan called Family Romance.

Vanity Fair spoke with Herzog at the Cannes film festival about this audacious plan and his part in The Mandalorian.

There is a reason Werner Herzog agreed to co-star as a villain in the forthcoming Star Wars show The Mandalorian. And it is not because he is a fan of George Lucas’s sci-fi franchise.

“I had a very, very vague idea of what Star Wars was all about,” Herzog said at the Cannes Film Festival, dismissing a beloved, multi-billion-dollar empire as if it were a USA Network show canceled after a single season. The very German, extremely quotable, zanily profound filmmaker did, however, need money to fund one particular rogue movie idea: Family Romance, LLC.

Traditional Hollywood financiers would not have gone for the filmmaker’s latest stunt, and for understandable reasons. He wanted to use an incomplete script he wrote himself, cast Japanese-speaking non-actors, and film in Japan—a triple-axel of daring, particularly considering that Herzog does not speak Japanese. But he dedicated his first few checks from The Mandalorian to making Family Romance, LLC, and was able to scrounge up a few other strange jobs, according to Herzog. “The only thing I have not done so far [to make money for movies],” he joked, “is bank robbery.”

Don’t get Herzog wrong; he actually likes the role he took in the Star Wars spin-off. “I asked for the full screenplays, and I looked into the part, and it looked good and interesting,” he said. Herzog also had experience playing a screen villain, having faced off against Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher. “The only reason for having me in the film is they needed somebody who would spread terror, and be frightening for the audience,” he said. “I said, ‘Yes I think I can give you this stylization.’ It came with great ease.”

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